May's Blog Post on Simple Rule #9: Meaningful is Out!

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Simple Rule #9: Meaningful


This month, LFC hosted a National Conversation for our Humanity First community about the ninth of our 11 Simple Rules to Create Thriving Communities for Children, “Meaningful.” Often born out of our personalities, experiences, cultures, and even more variables, what is meaningful to one person may differ from what is meaningful to another. It is our differences that make us each special, yet it is our humanity that connects and unites us.

Together, in this opportunity to explore and honor the beautiful uniqueness each of us brings, we:


  • Practiced setting intention with a focus on embracing connection with learning partners
  • Reflected on the emotions, thoughts, and associations that came to mind when we thought about the concept of ‘meaningful’ and how it relates to learning experiences.
  • Explored learning experiences we have been a part of and what made them meaningful to those involved
  • Considered how the insights of our learning partners can move forward with us


In this blog, we’ll move through the same process as the group did and consider their insights along the way.


Intention Empowers Us

Every day, we are met with multitudes of information that we can brush aside, process superficially, or absorb thoughtfully. Sometimes we are asked or expected to make conscious decisions about how to digest information, but the intuitive, often subconscious process can tell us a great deal about who we are and what is meaningful to us.


When a learning resonates, it is more likely to impact us. How do you know, in the present or retrospectively, that an experience was meaningful to you?


Opening our minds and hearts to discovering meaning can create opportunities for growth and clarity. Let’s pause for a moment and consider: what might make the experience of reading this blog feel meaningful to you? As you continue, see what it feels like to hold an intention of curiosity and spaciousness. Perhaps you’ll create connections with the insights of others and walk away with a shifted or renewed perspective.


Mutual Learning Supports Self-Reflection

Nichole introduced the concept of “meaningful” and invited the group to reflect on the ideas, words, and phrases that came to mind, either in the moment or in the past. She reflected on our recent podcast episode, where our guest, Jill Gunderman, invited us to think about how individual it is – that what we each find meaningful depends on who we are, what we know and have experienced, and what’s important to us. 


When you hear the word “meaningful,” what comes up for you?


 In the chat, the group shared their ideas. Some of them were:


  • Connects to what I value
  • Inspires us to think and act creatively
  • Elicits joy and a sense of self-worth
  • Connective and relational


Eyes lit up around the virtual meeting space as these thoughts were shared, and you could see how they resonated and ignited deeper thinking in real time. The conversation livened, and more ideas came to the surface:


  • When children find learning meaningful, they become excited and often uninhibited, and it’s our job as adults to meet them there.
  • Can we draw inspiration from the excitability of children?
  • To support others’ learning experiences, we can practice noticing, affirming, and celebrating the process.
  • We may not notice what makes a learning experience uniquely meaningful to someone else, so it’s helpful to practice opening our mind and activating curiosity.
  • When we stay present, it’s easier to practice authenticity and nurture connections between both people and ideas.
  • Exchanging “me” for “we” is at the heart of Mutual Learning.
  • It’s important to consider if an agenda is present during a learning experience, and if so, who it belongs and whether it is helpful or hurtful.
  • Recognizing that someone’s words may not reflect their true thoughts and feelings can help us cultivate understanding and empathy.


Meaningful Learning Experiences Deepen Our Relationship with Ourselves, Others, and the World Around Us

When learning feels meaningful, it’s more likely to stick. When we perceive the experience as valuable, we are more likely to engage with, apply, and share it. This kind of learning transcends “inputting and retaining information.” It can mean exploring yourself, your relationships, and the world around you. It results in deeper connections with ourselves and our community.


Let’s pause for a moment to reflect on what it feels like in our bodies to have a meaningful interaction. Perhaps you are visualizing a recent experience and noticing the sensations that arise. These feelings are so powerful. Think about how they can set a tone in your day, week, or life – how they can prepare you to move forward with greater direction and fulfillment. In the larger group, this exercise prompted these words: comfortable, safe, joyful, fulfilled, inspired, and warm and fuzzy.


When we are in touch with what feels meaningful to us and curious about and attuned to what feels meaningful for others, we not only learn more, but we also have an opportunity to nurture relationships in a deeper way.


In breakout rooms, the group used LFC’s Carousel Technique to reflect on the following question: Think about a learning experience you witnessed, participated in, or facilitated that felt meaningful. What made it that way? How did it impact each of those involved?


Fascinating concepts arose:


  • A great transformation can occur when someone offers a reframed perspective of something we’ve been struggling with.
  • Relationship dynamics evolve and can lead to new, expansive experiences that support us in feeling seen, valued, and connected.
  • Practicing vulnerability is a scary but essential part of learning, and supports us in deepening relationships.
  • Learning in spaces that LFC facilitates feels safe and supportive.


Take Action

To support themselves in positively influencing thriving communities, the group reflected on insights from the conversation they wanted to carry forward with them, including:


  • “Learning is meaningful, and I like thinking of it as being vulnerable so we can grow. It’s the cycle of life!”
  • The vulnerability that comes with openness to learning and growing happens in safe spaces.
  • Reframing challenges can better equip us to handle them.
  • Looking for the purpose that is important to the learner helps us craft more meaningful learning experiences.
  • Learning comes from being together.


The learning that happens during our National Conversations feels so meaningful to us because we get to hear your voices. We hope you will join us for the next one on June 20th at 4:00 PM EST! Next month’s topic is Simple Rule #10: Exploratory. Register here. We look forward to connecting with you!