Ideas and resources to enhance your life.
The last given of life is the fact that life seems meaningless. Just by itself, without any teaching, life doesn't seem to have any meaning to it. You live, you die. There is no inherent point to it. Without getting into any religious or traditional teaching about the meaning of life, lets take a look at this.
Some of us, at some point, have thought to ourselves, "what is IT all about?" And, we have done so, not just in a quick moment of rare quiet, but really intensely with much discussion and conversation. And it bothered us. People who have struggled with depression often struggle with this point. They say things like, 'there is no point', 'what's the point', 'I don't know what to do with my life'. These thoughts can be found in anxiety as well. If you feel like there is no point to life, it's hard to decide what to do with it, and that insecure and unattached feeling can be experienced as anxiety. It can also make it hard to decide that the life we are living is worth it, because we have no good ruler or guide against which to measure our life.
The meaningless of life problem is, in my opinion, mostly a result of a wealthy western lifestyle that affords us time and space to questions these types of things. It also stems to a large extent from the general move away from religion and tradition, and the rise of science and technology. Like Nietzsche said, "God is dead". I believe Nietzsche is misunderstood as just saying, "There is no God." What he was getting at was this. If the enlightenment resulted in the loss of a belief of God, then where does humanity turn to answer some of the hard questions? In a way, science, technology and the enlightenment have created the meaningless of life, and Nietzsche realized this could have dire consequence for humanity. And here we are.
How to address this then. The next post will get into general responses to all of the givens of life, but for now consider this. Modern psychology often deals with the meaninglessness of life by getting people to create their own meaning. If you find yourself in a position where you don't follow an overarching system of beliefs that gives you meaning, then you can create it for yourself.
Spend some time figuring out what you value in life, and then organize your life around those values. For example, lets say you value creativity, family, freedom, and responsibility you may decide to live near family, visit them weekly, spend time each day on a creative expression, spend weekends camping or hiking, and have a job so that you can pay the bills for a modest house for your own family. Alternatively if you value justice, equality, and fun you may decide to enter a demanding career as a police officer, volunteer for an organization that helps underprivileged children, and go on holidays every other month to a fun and exciting destination for a week.
It is surprising how many hours a person spends on something they they do not value. Some people work at a job they don't like, to earn money they then spend on things they don't need to impress people that they don't like.
Other ways to address meaningless may include the following: If you left a faith out of bitterness or hurt, you may be able to tap into that faith again, in a way that better matches you, now that you are older and more mature. Alternatively, you may never have looked into your family or people's traditional ways. There may be teachings there that can guide you.
In the next post I will cover some overarching responses to the 5 givens of life discussed so far. Stay tuned!
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