Meaningful experiences (from the Me perspective)

By Neil Turnham

What do you need to do to create more meaningful experiences in your life?

This month my Partners and I are going to be writing about meaningful experiences and what it means in the context of purpose. 

The concept of seeking out and/or creating meaningful experiences, has shown up countless times in our Live & Lead with Purpose programs, and the theme has been a common aspiration with participants. Many people have centred their own purpose statement and actions around enjoying and gaining energy, strength and optimism from experiences that have a special meaning to them. 

There was a fantastic example the other day when, in the early stages of the program, one of our participants shared that they had experienced one of their greatest meaningful experiences to date and, that if it would be repeatable in any way, it would give her and her family such positivity and optimism, that it would be transformational. The participant’s ultimate purpose statement referred to intentionally creating meaningful experiences and ‘living them’ in the moment.  

In this example, it was the most fantastic rainbow noticed by the little kids whilst playing outside on the front porch, they ran in to tell the whole family who all enjoyed it for some time. The photograph is testament to the fact that it was indeed a magical event and, with all the family there, an undeniable ‘meaningful experience’ for them all that won’t be forgotten. 

Clearly in this example the event was an unpredictable, natural event, however, through that heart-warming, positive experience our client’s mood was lifted, outlook was optimistic, focus and love for the family complete, and you could tell from the smiles an experience doesn’t get more meaningful! So, what if we could all be intentional about creating meaningful experiences for ourselves and our family i.e., routinely plan them in when sometimes it might seem easier not to. What would happen if you did?  

The subject doesn’t need to carry importance for anyone else; but it does need to have a high degree of resonance for you and, by focusing on creating that meaningful moment, it will ‘do its job’ for you. By that I mean, depending on what you hope the positive outcomes are from engaging with your chosen meaningful experience, there is a realisation of those potential positive effects. Whether that be on your mind, body or relationships, to name a few beneficiaries.  

What would you need to do to make experiences such as these happen more regularly in your life? Have a think and visualise the impact such an experience could have and what the benefit would be to you and those closest around you. Hopefully, that will give you some motivation towards making them happen.  

I’ll give you an example of a meaningful experience that happened to me last weekend, entirely intentional and linked to my purpose. I took my eldest son to his first ever music concert and it was a big one. In fact, huge, seeing Iron Maiden, the biggest heavy metal band on the planet, (yes, I know other people may debate that!) along with 20,000 other people. I have loved rock and heavy metal music since my early years and so has my son, it’s also a purpose-driven activity for me, I’m on the Board of a heavy metal charity and I have personally seen and experienced just how supportive a community it has been over the years…anyway, I digress. 

What made this one of the most meaningful experiences for me and my son is that, although we planned it in minute detail, it was a one-off non-repeatable event. We’ll see Iron Maiden again (I hope!), but it will never be my son’s first concert again, it won’t be that night again, and there won’t be those same tears of joy for the impact of it all again. It has parallels to my client’s story, a few weeks back, she’ll see another rainbow with her daughter again, but it won’t be the same one, at the same time, in the same place, in that same moment.  

However, we are all in control of trying to find meaningful experiences, or indeed planning time to spend on meaningful experiences, which create true positive impact upon ourselves for whatever reason. We all have our own idea and opinion of what those experiences may be; going to a certain place with the family, building something in your garage, getting involved with a particular project or sport, whatever, it is doesn’t really matter to anyone other than you, but once you’ve had that meaningful experience and drawn whatever positives you hoped from it, I suspect that you will want to seek out a few more!