Searching for Significance: What Gets You Out of Bed?


Human beings are hard-wired not only for survival but also ‘significance’. We spend our lives searching for significance. Significance is the need to be seen, (to be important). All of us at some point have gone through a painful experience. That experience perhaps has left us with the feeling not being important, even invisible.

Because we all need to feel significant to somebody we develop ways to cope with by pain by attempting to restore what had been lost or taken away. While some people find significance by being the class/office clown. Some find it in acts of kindness, others in obnoxious behavior. Some find it in material possessions or social status. While others find significance by starting each day deciding who will feel the force of their violent criticism and attack, be it verbal or physical. Still others start their day deciding to make a positive difference. The truth is if you are one of the latter, then the former will likely attack you for your commitment because their cynicism has corroded their belief in either themselves or humanity, most likely both. To that I would say; ‘nil carborundum illegitimi‘.

The bottom line is; we all need a reason to get out of bed in the morning. And if you don’t decide to find an uplifting and inspiring reason then you are likely to find a vindictive one.

Each of us start our day in a similar way… we awaken from little or enough sleep to be greeted by a new day. For some that awakening is to a day filled with open possibilities, for others, another day of survival and hopefully avoiding pain.

As some of you know, in June 1990 I fell while mountain climbing and quite literally got smashed to pieces. The recovery was long and grueling. I have been a therapist for more than 20 years (with a short sabbatical to recover from the fall). I still am amazed by the resilience of the human form. Our bodies are magnificent at recovering from the most horrendous of experiences. But recovery on physical level is only one part of healing.

We have all had the experience of knowing someone directly or indirectly who unexpectedly suddenly ended their life. We can all generate an opinion about it; some say it’s a coward’s way out, others say that it’s tragic. However we judge it, often the news comes as a shock. Most of the time, the person who ended their life “seemed” at the very least okay maybe even strong, funny, or successful. These people, famous or not, have left us with the biggest unanswered question of all: Why?

I can still remember back in 1990 the light pushing through the skin of my eyelids with violent persistence that I start a new day, while my mind screamed at full volume; “go away”. At that time a new day meant another very loooooooong day of excruciating pain that I had no certainty that I would be able to cope with it. Prior to that, I recall many times where a new day filled me with the potential of more joy, laughter and maybe even some insights and enlightenment. But as I lay there with my back soaked in sweat from contorting my body attempting to ease pain, I yearned to find some peace in the darkness.

During the nearly two years of recovery from the fall, in order to repair my damaged body I had to endure six painful re-constructive surgeries and many more since. The greatest challenge I had to overcome, by far, was my mental and emotional state, which had been crushed to a greater degree than any of my bones.

Within six month those who didn’t know me before the fall would have said that I looked fairly normal. The healing on the outside was very fast, however for almost two years I was never more than a thought away from absolute defeat. Many times I simply wanted to quit life…

Our curious minds searches to answer this “why” question with all kinds of psychological insights about depression, repression or even oppression but the truth is that these people for whatever reason no longer could find a reason to get out of bed in the morning, that dealing with whatever the day would bring would be so much more difficult and painful.

Many times during my recovery I simply wanted to quit life…but my burning desire to fulfill my purpose before I exited this planet nagged me to go another day. As this desire grew I made a series of conscious decisions to transform the pain into fuel – fuel I could use to power the next stage of my journey.

Very recently, I was speaking to a dear friend who has been going through a rough time. Some people around her had decided that it would somehow benefit my friend by tearing her self-esteem. It was so devastating that it shook my friend’s foundations, values, and created enormous self-doubt. Even though my friend is in no danger of ending her life, this experience has left her in a lot of pain.

During our conversation, I felt compelled to ask my friend to find the reason/s she gets out of bed in the morning.

I understand when times are tough it can be hard to remember why we even bother: So I asked my friend to remember a time when they felt totally inspired. What was it about that moment that was so inspiring?

When you feel totally inspired are you thinking of the past? EG: how far you have come, what you have already overcome. Do you think about the future, EG: The difference you can make, the lives you might positively impact, or any number of vast possibilities before you?

When you are feeling totally inspired what do you say to yourself and how do you speak to yourself? Do you tell yourself; you can do it? Maybe you tell yourself that you will not let ‘them’ defeat you; ‘nil carborundum illegitimi‘, (look it up). Do you speak to yourself in a loving and compassionate way or do you speak to yourself in a boot straps kind of tone?

When you are feeling totally inspired what do see? What kind of images do you create in your mind, are they movies or still pictures? Black and white, or color? Are you in the picture or observing the picture?

When you are feeling totally inspired, what are you believing about yourself, your situation, or other people?

And when you are feeling totally inspired what does that feel like in your body?

As the mind becomes focused on each of these elements, it takes the thoughts and produces the emotions you desire. What emotions are showing a particular significance? When the thoughts direct the emotions, feelings are generated. This becomes quantum fields of information that broadcasts out into the universe and in turn attracts to you whatever you are broadcasting out. It doesn’t matter if what you are putting out into the quantum field is conscious or unconscious, if it’s going out into the field that is what you will attract.

Each of us have our own versions of “look at me, aren’t I important”.

The question is…does yours enhance your life or keep you in your unresolved drama? Does it enhance the lives of others or sweeps them up to multiply your drama? Are you dealing with or just distracting and pacifying your pain? If it’s the latter and you do decide to take the steps to deal with whatever the pain might be for you, the need to ease it by attacking others will go away.

Gandhi said: “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”.

I challenge you to ask yourself; “Why do I do what I do? What is my intention? Make a decision about what it is that gets you out of bed in the morning.” That way when someone who can’t find a fulfilling enough reason attacks you, the anchor of your soul will remain solid in the emotional storm.

I trust that you found this article valuable. If so feel free to send this to your friends. I eagerly anticipate your feedback and comments. Please share, like and comment below!


With gratitude,

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One of Inc. Magazine’s Top 100 Leadership Speakers to hire, Dov Baron is a leadership advisor to the United Nations (UN), a bestselling author, the world’s only Corporate Cultural Momentum Strategist, and a top-ranking podcast host. He is also the leading authority on Authentic Leadership, and Leadership Succession or, as he prefers to call it, “Full Monty Leadership.” Try his Authentic Leadership Matrix for free: