- Thoughts for inspired living

May 15, 2008

This Means That

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:07 am

We often confuse math and meaning. We often apply math in an area where it doesn’t belong.

In math, you can have a provable equation where A=B-C. You can defend and prove that B minus C equals A. In life it doesn’t work that way but we operate as if it does.

How often have you taken a set of thoughts in your head and added some form of “this means that”? What you are attempting to prove is that a set of circumstances that you are intellectually entertaining, has a provable, universal meaning. The formula would be Circumstances = Meaning I Ascribe.

Trouble brews quicker than instant coffee when we attempt to give meaning a solid value.

Meaning is always an afterthought and never part of the real equation. It’s an effort to explain a set of facts. The difficulty arises when we discover that there are countless interpretations of the unscientific equation, Circumstances = Meaning I Ascribe.

You only have to poll one jury to convince yourself that meaning has a mind of its own and is divorced from the facts. The O.J. Simpson trial of the 1990’s is a prime illustrator of how meaning gets molded regardless of the facts. Just take one fact from the trial and see how different meanings acquitted O.J. At the crime scene they found a size 12 Bruno Magli shoe print in the blood. This was a specific model of the shoe with limited sales. O.J. owned a pair of these, limited edition, size 12 Bruno Magli shoes that matched the shoe print found at the crime scene. One of the investigators admitted to having used a racial epithet in the past. The jury turned math into meaning.

William Shakespeare said it best in Hamlet:

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

He could have easily substituted the word “meaning” for thinking and not skipped a beat. Meaning is what we think it means and rarely does that equate to the facts.

Let’s take a real life example from the therapist’s couch. “My husband cheated on me because he has an enormous sex drive that I cannot possibly accommodate and I know he is not attracted to me anymore after the baby was born because I haven’t lost all the weight I gained during the pregnancy. He claims it was a one-time thing but I know that he will do it again because once men cheat they always go back for more because they can’t help themselves. I’ll never be able to trust him again.”

This statement is all too familiar and dripping with meaning. What are the facts? The husband cheated, said it was a one-time thing and she had a child. Everything else is meaning.

This is not to say you cannot apply logic to a set of facts and forecast a future result. This is more an exercise in noticing “this means that” in your thinking.

The meaning we give something takes on a life of its own and eventually becomes a “fact” in our head. We think we are operating on the factual data but, in fact, the data has been so distorted by meaning that we can only come to a faulty conclusion.

Notice that meaning doesn’t exist in nature – only in our head – and different heads come up with different meanings. Imagine the daffodil saying to the crocus, “The only reason you bloom before me every year is so you can get the attention of the other flora and bees and show off.”

Want to add some meaning to your existence? Take meaning out of your life for just a day and truly find the value of 1 + 2 = 3.

All the best,


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