Why Finding Meaning in Life is Elusive
Meaning and Life’s Work
You are either working with Life from its power, or your work and your life will reflect varying degrees of emotional pain and meaninglessness.
What is true work and how does Life truly work?
The five understandings of meaning …the purposeful creating of a meaningful life:
Recognize where meaning does not come from…
That meaning does not and can not come from any extrinsic values or external experiences. There is no way that anything physical can transfer, or in itself cause any form of experience, much less meaning. There are no mechanisms for material transference to any internal experiences. Further, extrinsic values have a very short duration of reward effectiveness and must be continuously replenished. Intrinsic values, on the other hand, are internally self-reinforcing and do not need any external source to validate or impart them.
Recognize there are two drives that are real living needs that must be met…
Physiological needs and the need for meaning. Physiological needs are self-explanatory. If you go without water or food, you die.
But what about “meaning” as a need? Once physiological needs are sufficiently met, “meaning” is the other life need because not meeting it is potentially life threatening. How so? If an individual determines their life is completely meaningless, they will commit suicide, or lay down and soon die. No goodbye notes, no cries for help, just die.
Realize the origin of unhappiness…
To the degree that life is meaningless, to that degree an individual lives in a hell of emotional stress and pain. This is because of what Buddhism calls “ignorance.” Before you take offense to this term, it is the root meaning of the word that is being referenced here. The root of “ignorance” is “to ignore.” Not only does the individual not know how to do anything differently then what they are doing, but they don’t know how to, or even know to look for and/or create a way of doing something, anything in a different manner. At the core of true and sustainable meaning, is the learned habits of self-reliance and creatively thinking how to make, or create something new, or anew.
Realize the nature of meaninglessness…
All meaninglessness and emotional suffering is the result of not knowing how to live fully a life of skillfulness in action. All suffering (emotional pain) to the degree it exists is the result of not knowing how to consciously create and live from meaning. Not knowing how is why there are so many successful people by worldly terms who feel they are missing meaning in their lives. It is why there is such a prevalence of dissatisfaction and impulsive or addictive behaviors to compensate for lack of consciously created meaning (which is also called mindlessness). These behaviors are ways of dealing with or escaping from the unpleasantness of mindless living. It is why there is such an incredible number of people in the world still looking for meaning in their lives. This lack of meaning is at the heart of all addictive behaviors and addictions that seem to be unresponsive to interventions or change. To add to this, people caught in addictive thinking patterns who also self-blame, experience great senses of being lost in life.
Know that all meaning, positive or negative comes from the habitual ways of feeling, thinking and behaving.
In order to experience meaning in desired ways, one must live habitually from a place of skill development specific to creating and using meaning. The skilfulness of creating meaning is a way of living based upon “education.” This is not as education is commonly taught in the Western World. Rather, it is as indicated by the root meaning of the word education.”Educo” means “to draw out.” To embody (making it habitual) a way of drawing out of oneself and creating with life is the key. The process of drawing out and creating is a pathway to certainty.
Applying the 5 Understandings:
Bend your mind around a different way of looking at the word work… Visibly or invisibly, what we really work for (not who we work for) is the value we think we are getting from whatever we are doing in life. Looking at work in this sense means that everything we do or don’t do in life is what we really expend effort for…
AND what we expend effort for (work upon) IS our meaning!
Your why is what you value and how you choose to see what you value in the world. Value is inextricably bound to your way of living, of doing anything in life. It is what you live for. This is the basis of meaning. If how you live up to your values is not decided by you, then neither will the way you experience life be decided by you. The way of living up to your values is greater than any individual circumstantial why alone because the reasons for your why can be intellectual. Way then, is what you dedicate your life to creating, to working with and working on. The way of doing your life, your life work, is your highest indestructible meaning. Change what you work for and your life meaning will begin to change. Change the way you work for what is in your life and the experience of your life will change forever and you will begin a path of life mastery.
Work, and your view shaped by valuing values (what is truly valuable to you), is the vehicle for creating meaning in (anyone’s) life. You cannot find meaning. You can only create it.
Not all meaning is desirable. As a simple way of seeing this: either we are working for joy, or for unhappiness (emotional pain). Working for unhappiness is incidentally at odds with living from success. Or it is for some-thing other, often not integrated with success.
Failure is the personalization of negative experience as one’s own meaning. In objective truth, there can be no failure. There really is no such thing as failure! There is only not knowing what to do, or how to do it.