It is said that nothing has any meaning except that meaning that we give it.
We decide if and when something has meaning. We decide the value of things. How many things do you walk past each day without a second glance. Did you notice the sunset on your way home from work today?
We make conscious and unconscious decisions each day to assign meaning to every object or event we see. Meaning is derived from our view of things through the lens of our own experiences. How we responded to things in our past will normally determine how we will respond to similar things from that moment onward.
Our attitude about the nature of things is also based upon our experiences. Our attitude determines not only how we assign meaning to objects or events but predicts how we will interpret those things and events.
If we think the world sucks and everyone is out to get us and all we do is terrible and people hate us and we are generally not worth knowing, we will interpret our environment as such, and assign meanings to things based on those attitudes.
If we believe that all things in the universe operate in balance, and that there is order to the world, and our place in the world has purpose, and we are uniquely inspired to create and give and grow, and our experiences only define who we are by the challenges we overcome, then we will assign value to things in our environment according to this disposition.
The was once a Chinese story about a man who owned a small farm. He woke every morning to work his land. One day, his horse ran away. The townspeople condoled his loss.
“Oh, that’s terrible.” They grieved. “What shall you do? How will you work your fields? This is devastating news.”
The man replied. “Good news, sad news. Who could tell?”
Two months later, the horse returned, bringing another horse along with it.
The people cheered. “What great fortune. You lost a horse, now you have two.”
The man replied, “Good news, sad news. Who could tell?”
Six months later, the new horse kicked the man’s son. The boy’s leg was now maimed, and he walked with a limp thereafter.
“This is horrible.” His neighbors cried. “How will your son help you on the farm? He is lame.”
The man said, “Good news, sad news. Who could tell?”
Two years later the emperor declared war on a neighboring state and conscripted all able-bodied males to fight in the army. All the sons in the village were taken except one.
The town cried out, “All our sons were taken to the war and may never come home again. Your son, being lame, was spared. He will stay with you and care for you in your old age. How fortuitous.”
The man told them, “Good news, sad news. Who could tell?”
As humans, we seem preoccupied in assigning blame or praise to events as they unfold. Many of us feel there is some higher purpose driving events to some divine conclusion, or some disastrous destination. Nothing “just happens,” rather things happen “to us.”
Again, our attitudes determine meaning. Attitudes evolve from each response we conjure to every event we encounter. If our attitude never matures, we will view each new event through the lens of the attitude developed from each prior experience.
I’m sure you know people who could fall into a porta-potty and come out smelling like cinnamon potpourri.
You likely also know someone who always has a crisis or dilemma. The kind of people who could win the lottery and then bitch about the taxes. They are certain they are the only ones with problems and their problems are much bigger than anyone else’s.
Victor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist, wrote in his seminal work, “Man’s Search for Meaning” about his three-year experience in four different concentration camps, where he witnessed unimaginable atrocities.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.”
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Another story involves a king who had a spiritual advisor. The king relied on his advice daily and deeply admired the man, save one thing. Anything that would happen to anyone, the advisor would say, “All things happen for the good.” He said this so much it was the only thing the king despised about him.
One day the king had an accident and chopped off his own thumb. The advisor again told him that all things happen for the good.
The king became so furious he had him thrown in jail.
Some time later, the king decided to go on a hunt to think. He rode off far away and encountered a tribe of savages. They captured the king and prepared to sacrifice him to their god. Their tribal priest examined the king and, having found that he was imperfect, rejected the sacrifice. The king was released.
As the king was riding home, he ruminated on this singular circumstance. His advisor was astute after all. When the king returned home, he ordered the man released from jail and brought to the throne room.
“When you told me that losing my thumb was for my greatest good, I was angered. But this defect saved my life. Losing my thumb angered me enough to throw you in prison. How did work for your good?”
“Oh, great king and long-time friend,” the spiritual man replied. “If I had not been imprisoned, I would have traveled with you. You would have been released for your defect, while I, being without blemish, would have been sacrificed.”
If we are convinced that everything happens TO us, we will never see that things more often than not happen FOR us.
I spent my entire life lifting weights, practicing martial arts, avoiding certain foods, all for the sake of health and fitness. After securing four IN state records, and injuring my back, I quit powerlifting. Within a year, I gained 100 pounds. I was 320 pounds of chewed bubble gum; a true lard-ass. I had to wear slip on shoes to the office because I couldn’t tie my shoes without nearly passing out.
Then I got cancer and diabetes and covid at the same time. While sitting on the couch recovering from the emergency surgery to remove six inches of my colon, I had to think a long while about what this meant for me.
I stared into the abyss, and found myself staring back. Why, given my obsession with fitness and nutrition, did I get sick in a way reflected by fitness and nutrition. I had to come to terms with the fact that this didn’t happen TO me. It happened FOR me. I am now healthier than I had ever been in my life. I have maintained my weight below 200 pounds for three years now. The steps I took to reverse my cancer and diabetes, I can now share with others and help them along their journey. I tell my clients that cancer was the best thing to ever happen to me. Had I not been subjected to the medical system, and decided to reject it for alternative methods, I would not have the experiential wisdom I can now share with others. I can relate on a very personal level.
It all begins with attitude. Attitude from the day I first heard the word cancer. Dec 15, 2020.
The doctor sat with shaking hands avoiding the conversation. I finally told him to spit it out because I already knew what he was going to say and that we’re both big boys. When he finally said it, I told him it was no big deal and I got it covered. I already know what I’m going to do, and it will be alright.
He said. “You don’t understand. This is cancer.”
“No,” I told him. “YOU don’t understand. This is ONLY cancer.”
I knew my attitude would determine my outcome. I made sure my self-talk was bullet-proof. I never included in my mental gymnastics that “I have cancer” or “I survived cancer” or “I am beating cancer.”
I told myself, “My body is healing. I am growing healthier every day. I had a tumor once, but they cut it out. It is all gone now. My body is rejuvenating at an alarming rate.”
Attitude makes the difference in the meaning we give to life’s events and circumstances.
What attitude is the lens through which you view the world?
Does everything work in your favor, or are you sabotaged by every facet of life?
Nothing in the world has any inherent meaning, but what we give it. What meaning do you give to everything you see around you?
Instead of searching for the meaning in all things, analyze why you give a particular meaning to things.
It makes a difference.
All the best,
Joe “Weeg” Weigant is a Massage Therapist, Holistic Health Practitioner, Tai Chi Master, Metaphysician, and Empowerment Coach. He combines bodywork, energy work, and coaching to relieve anxiety and depression and balance the nervous system. Weeg coaches his clients to drop the white flag of victimhood and pick up the banner of empowerment, inspiring them to stop riding in life’s trunk and take the wheel of their lives.
Weeg sells herbal products by Nature’s Sunshine, Pure Herbs Ltd. and Juice Plus. He teaches Karate and Tai Chi, Reiki Certification, as well as seminars and workshops in metaphysical and spiritual matters. Weeg is available for sessions at Tri State Holistic Wellness by appointment only.
Contact by text 812.568.5356, or Facebook Messenger to set an appointment.