Creating a Meaningful Life

Simple living, extreme early retirement, being wealthy, ...
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slowtraveler
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Creating a Meaningful Life

Post by slowtraveler » Wed Jan 04, 2017 4:35 am

Does anyone else experience challenges here?

I have everything I need-food, water, family and friends who love me, nature, a role I can contribute in, enough wealth to feel some security yet I feel I'm missing something. I heard in a Stanford happiness lecture that we're wired to feel dissatisfaction so maybe I'm asking too much of life.

Sometimes I wonder if more adventure, travel, or love would solve this but they come with their own challenges and feel like a cover when approached from that perspective. Long hikes and meditating have helped me create more peace but I still feel I'm missing something.

I'm about to start a free online happiness course to address this but I'm still curious about others' experience here.

vexed87
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Re: Creating a Meaningful Life

Post by vexed87 » Wed Jan 04, 2017 6:20 am

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow's_ ... y_of_needs

Have you met all your needs? If not start there.

Meeting my wife certainly filled a big gap, and it made me miles happier than being a singleton, but I still feel niggling discontent from time to time, so its no solution. It can be hard one to put a finger on sometimes, but in the end it was simple for me.

Do you feel challenged enough? I found I needed to keep myself busy, and not with busywork, like household chores or the day job which I can now do with my eyes closed. I needed something to work towards in my spare time and buck the urge to kill time with leisurely consumer pursuits or waste time on the internet*. I needed a project** to be passionate about, to keep me from twiddling my thumbs. Everyone's different, and the challenges we enjoy are as varied, so there was no one solution, but a challenge or two to work on will go a long way to warding off discontent. Humans have unlimited wants, and we can't fulfil them all, but if you can direct your wants into productive pursuits that challenge you, the discontent can be kept at bay. Also see stoicism.

*Not that reading and learning is a waste of time, but sometimes it can be without direction and unfulfilling.
** I often have several on the go, so I can switch between when I'm feeling burned out with one.

BRUTE
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Re: Creating a Meaningful Life

Post by BRUTE » Wed Jan 04, 2017 10:19 am

opium

ducknalddon
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Re: Creating a Meaningful Life

Post by ducknalddon » Wed Jan 04, 2017 11:41 am

BRUTE wrote:opium
Only if having coronary artery disease contributes to a meaningful life.

George the original one
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Re: Creating a Meaningful Life

Post by George the original one » Wed Jan 04, 2017 12:58 pm

I'm a smurf, so "wired to be unhappy" seems contradictory to my experience. Yes, winning battles and solving puzzles is rewarding (and the opposite, failure, is disheartening), but you are likely in control of the battles & puzzles that count.

There's also a trap in "create a meaningful life". Too many people use it as an excuse. My sister, for instance, hasn't worked in the past decade because she can't find meaningful work... now she is retired and attempting to live on a t-i-n-y social security payment and food stamps because she squandered student loan money & refused to work. Basically she gave up.

Dragline
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Re: Creating a Meaningful Life

Post by Dragline » Wed Jan 04, 2017 1:19 pm

@Gtoo -- We seem to have the same sister!

@Felipe -- what you are talking about generally -- that predisposition to dissatisfaction once basic needs are satisfied -- is called "hedonic adaptation." It's the main engine of consumerism, but applies in a general sense, too.

What you are looking for are activities that contain three components: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose, the latter being the most subjective. I would take the free course, but then start looking for something that involves either creativity (art, music, writing, building, etc.) or engaging in social interactions with other people or animals, either in joint pursuits or teaching/tutoring.

And its better just to go try something and quit if you don't find purpose in it after a few months than to think too hard about finding the "perfect" antidote for your ennui.

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jennypenny
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Re: Creating a Meaningful Life

Post by jennypenny » Wed Jan 04, 2017 1:49 pm

There have been a few discussions about this topic on the forum resulting in different recommendations from members. This thread has several good links in it. A search for Maslow's Hierarchy will also give you some good posts.

The current obsession with the search for meaning is a pet peeve of mine. It's gone from Frankl's attempt to find meaning in a horrible meaningless situation to the search for meaning in every mundane activity. It sets people up to be unhappy. It's as bad as the terrible advice for people to follow their passion.

This isn't a criticism of you, Felipe. I'm critical of the invented drama of searching for meaning in a first world life. My only advice is to avoid equating boredom with meaninglessness.

cmonkey
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Re: Creating a Meaningful Life

Post by cmonkey » Wed Jan 04, 2017 3:57 pm

Coming down off my renovation project, I have been feeling a bit of listlessness. I first learned of the term 'ennui' a few months back and now it pops into my mind every once in a while since I've been done. Winter time is particularly bad because I only even see the sun for a few hours a day outside of work. So I have 6 hours each evening to fill now, where for the last year I have been building. I think I'm still decompressing and will probably find something.

stand@desk
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Re: Creating a Meaningful Life

Post by stand@desk » Wed Jan 04, 2017 5:06 pm

Might I suggest what I call "defensive living"

-Making sure all useful inventories of groceries and household supplies are full and stocked up and well organized.
-Having your financial records and history nicely organized with tranaction histories and yearly records of your balance sheet etc. Try and better your position as you get older.
-Having your living space organized and tidy and owning little posessions, mostly on the ones that add value to your life.
-Read more books from the library
-Keeping your posessions in good shape, maintained, dusted, washed etc.

-Having room to add things into your life (people, experiences etc..and having time to sit and ponder and putter around.)

-Give up many ofthe things that are not serving you.
-Maintain an exercise program which may involve walking x miles a day/week or running x miles a day or week etc.

This is how I find life meaningful..

Dragline
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Re: Creating a Meaningful Life

Post by Dragline » Wed Jan 04, 2017 11:06 pm

cmonkey wrote:Coming down off my renovation project, I have been feeling a bit of listlessness. I first learned of the term 'ennui' a few months back and now it pops into my mind every once in a while since I've been done. Winter time is particularly bad because I only even see the sun for a few hours a day outside of work. So I have 6 hours each evening to fill now, where for the last year I have been building. I think I'm still decompressing and will probably find something.
i dont miss winters in Iowa! But I loved breaking ice dams in March as a kid walking home from school. There was purpose in making the water flow.

Ennui is a great word because it describes first world navel gazing/hedonic adaptation

slowtraveler
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Re: Creating a Meaningful Life

Post by slowtraveler » Thu Jan 05, 2017 2:42 am

I always find this group insightful.

@ Vexed87 I find your posts relatable, I feel the same way about love. The love/belonging in Maslow's hierarchy is where I feel drawn to. After my last break up, I dated a lot but didn't find anyone I felt compatible enough with to commit to.

I feel somewhat challenged. I started a VITA class and will soon apply that to helping people in the real world. I'm working on an interesting work project and gauging whether automating a piece of the business is worth it or not. Honestly, my biggest challenge is quitting some unwanted behaviors but I don't think this fills the role of project.

@ Brute I belive Charlie Munger said (paraphrasing) taking heroine will make the next month of your life more enjoyable but it would destroy you over the long haul. Do you happen to be an opiate enthusiast?

@Dragline I knew of hedonic adaptation but only applied it to shopping. That's dead on now that I think about it. I've been drawn to teaching/helping people. I think VITA will fuflill some of that and then finding some way to keep helping people with finance or working in nature could do it for me after.

@JennyPenny If I understand you correctly, you're saying this is a first world problem and after my basic needs, it's all in my head and pondering this question will lead towards more dissatisfaction? I wouldn't be surprised, not the first time my problems haven't been "real" in a sense.

@ Stand@desk I have most of those handled, I love minimalism too at this point. Exercising is lacking though. I bike some every day and hike a couple of miles 2 or 3 times a week but I'm craving more of that.

Thanks for all the suggestions.

vexed87
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Re: Creating a Meaningful Life

Post by vexed87 » Thu Jan 05, 2017 6:13 am

Felipe wrote:
@ Vexed87 I find your posts relatable... snip

...Honestly, my biggest challenge is quitting some unwanted behaviors but I don't think this fills the role of project.... snip

@ Stand@desk I have most of those handled, I love minimalism too at this point. Exercising is lacking though. I bike some every day and hike a couple of miles 2 or 3 times a week but I'm craving more of that.
Maybe I'm reading too much into this so just ignore what follows if I'm wrong, maybe your discontent can be attributed to cognitive dissonance. You mention behaviours your unhappy with, and then mention your exercise is lacking and you crave more. So from that I might infer that you are unhappy with some current behaviour and wish to replace it with another, more exercise? Good news, that can be easily fixed by learning about good habit formation, and creating a strategy to address the behaviour.

Being 'healthy' is a problem that I have personally grappled with... I was never into sports as a kid, I guess my aptitudes weren't catered for at school (I have since found my sport!). I became pretty sedentary as I went through higher education/university, I couldn't cook, I spent my spare time gaming and ate a lot of take out/junk. I was pretty damn unhealthy. I now consider myself a healthy guy, but there's always more we can do right? (Hedonic adaptation? :roll: ). I bike every day, walk the dog 5 miles a day, eat a healthy home cooked mostly plant-based diet... yet I find myself endlessly worrying about lack of exercise. I know I need to get more resistance exercise in, but have really struggled over time to build that habit, and even when I eventually succeed, I'm sure I'll find some new problem to focus on! Curse of being a rational perhaps?

My main outlet for fitness is road cycling, and to excel you need to cross-train to eliminate weaknesses in areas of your body that don't get trained as much in the saddle, so I have my perfect motivation to develop my resistance exercise regime, just overcoming that inertia and breaking the bad habit is a challenge in itself, not because its tough, but deciding that now it's the time to focus that energy on that problem. Not sure this will help address your discontent over the long term, but turning your unwanted behaviours around can easily be turned into a project. Just get over that hump. Then you'll be left dealing with another problem :lol:

Alas, I think it human nature.

FBeyer
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Re: Creating a Meaningful Life

Post by FBeyer » Thu Jan 05, 2017 8:58 am

jennypenny wrote:It's gone from Frankl's attempt to find meaning in a horrible meaningless situation to the search for meaning in every mundane activity. It sets people up to be unhappy. It's as bad as the terrible advice for people to follow their passion.
Odd, I think gratitude sets people up to be happy with basics, and thrilled with everything beyond that. What kind of mundane activities are long-term harmful to be appreciative about?

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Ego
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Re: Creating a Meaningful Life

Post by Ego » Sat Jan 14, 2017 8:28 am

A good long read on the meaning of life.

http://www.thebookoflife.org/the-meaning-of-life-2/


We have to work out, by a process of experience and introspection, what counts as meaningful in our eyes. Whereas pleasure manifests itself immediately, our taste in meaning may be more elusive. We can be relatively far into our lives before we securely identify what lends them their meaning.

The Sources of Meaning

Love
Family
Work
Friendship
Culture
Politics
Nature
Philosophy


Obstacles to Meaning

Vague self-understanding
Provincialism
Selflessness
Immortality
Storytelling

stand@desk
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Re: Creating a Meaningful Life

Post by stand@desk » Sat Jan 14, 2017 8:46 am

@Felipe
Have you thought of really turning up the exercise almost to the point of stupidity? Well not quite, but dial it up a fair amount. More body weight exercises like many many pushups till you can't do anymore, chinups, mountain climbers, run a lot. The endorphins will make you feel great and from that state of mind you will find more meaning imo. It is definitely helping my wife and I as we have turned it up a bit more lately.

thrifty++
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Re: Creating a Meaningful Life

Post by thrifty++ » Sat Jan 14, 2017 2:38 pm

I think the main way to generate happiness is to focus on kindness to others, being generous, helping others, and perceiving everyone to have positive intentions until they prove otherwise. I dont always practice what I preach as it requires discipline, at least initially. I have however experienced bouts of extreme happiness from this approach for weeks and even months at a time.

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