Five Steps to A More Meaningful Life

Neil StraussNeil


They spell out the unfortunate acronym: A SCAG.

I’m sure I could find a better acronym and write a book about it one day, but it would require changing the words and concepts. And these are the words that matter.

What’s important is that the words listed below are not meant to be used as thoughts or ideas, but as the basis for a regular practice.

I encourage you to have your own understanding of each word, but here are a few thoughts for those who need the direction.


Let us not look back in anger nor forward in fear but around in awareness.James Thurber
Awareness is the gift of living not in the small reality of distorted thinking, but in the big reality of truth.

But it is more than that.

It is also the knowledge that energy follows awareness.

Having and making the conscious choice to direct your awareness toward the things that enrich your spirit is the biggest transformation you can make.

Here is a post from an online forum from a woman with terminal cancer on making this shift:

“I have had a couple of personal, unforgettable moments since I have been living with [metastatic cancer]. One day, I went to the local grocery store to pick up something for dinner. As I got out of my car, I noticed all the folks walking in the parking lot — some towards the stores, some away from the stores. On previous occasions in groups of people unknown to me, I had sometimes felt “different” from them knowing I had a terminal disease. But at this moment, I looked at these people and felt an overwhelming love and awareness flow from me for them. I felt how wonderful it was that these folks were just going about their everyday lives and that I was a part of it. I felt they were all very dear to me. I also felt that I knew that some of them were very troubled and unsure in their lives and  that I was not really different from them, just that our concerns and fears were different, but somehow the same. I felt warm and embracing towards these strangers. It was a most beautiful, unexpected moment for me.”


All man’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone.Blaise Pascal
A lot has been said about being in the moment and the now, and you all are in a practice so you get this.

Just remember: If you could just shut off all that internal dialogue, you would see that it is not protecting you, it is keeping you away from life.


No man is an island, entire of itself; Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or thine own were. Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.John Donne
The greatest pain we face is separation and all separation is an illusion. So most of the pain we hold onto is also an illusion.

If all atoms were pink, we would see that the connectedness of all things is not a metaphor or new-age concept. It is simply the truth.

And from there, you must make certain decisions that will guide your life and your values.

Are you going to feel like a victim of the world, or are you going to accept that you are the world?

Are you going to change the world, or are you going to recognize that you are the world?


Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.Lao Tzu
 This is among the most difficult of these five practices. And though at first glance this seems to be about accepting the people, events, situations, and things we can’t change around us, the toughest part is actually accepting something much closer to us: ourselves, because most people talk to themselves far worse than they would ever allow anyone else to speak to them.



One regret dear world, that I am determined not to have when I am lying on my deathbed is that I did not kiss you enough.Hafiz
We are in a culture of want-more-faster-bigger-better. But what we have is so much more than what we don’t.

As the Buddhists put it: “Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.”