Finding Meaning in Life and Embracing Non-Effort: A Journey of Self-Discovery

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Glasp

Aug 02, 2023 β€’ 4 min read

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Finding Meaning in Life and Embracing Non-Effort: A Journey of Self-Discovery

Life is a perplexing journey filled with questions and uncertainties. Many of us spend years searching for the meaning of life, hoping to stumble upon some profound revelation that will bring clarity and purpose to our existence. However, after much contemplation and introspection, I have come to the realization that the search for meaning is futile. Life, in its essence, is absurd and devoid of inherent purpose or explanation.

This revelation initially caused me great anxiety. I had always held the unconscious belief that there must be something out there meant for me, a grand destiny that I needed to uncover in order to live a fulfilling life. But the truth is, the world is a construct of our own making, a place where rules are arbitrary and meaning is subjective. We cannot 'find' meaning; we can only invent it. Life only gains significance when we commit ourselves to a particular purpose or belief.

The prevalence of a sense of meaninglessness in society is a result of our collective subscription to the idea that each person has a predetermined mission in life. This belief has been deeply intertwined with religious ideologies, but as more and more people distance themselves from traditional religious structures, the concept of a divine purpose becomes increasingly elusive.

Existentialists, such as Jean-Paul Sartre, grapple with the absence of God and the subsequent absence of a universal moral framework. They find it deeply unsettling that without a higher consciousness to conceive of absolute values, there can be no inherent good or moral imperatives. Instead, they argue that man first exists and then defines himself through his actions and choices. Life itself is devoid of meaning until we give it one, and value is nothing more than the meaning we assign to it.

This notion of constant becoming, of continuously evolving and redefining ourselves, is at the core of our humanity. We are not static beings; we are in a constant state of flux. Denying our freedom to define and redefine ourselves at any given moment is what Sartre refers to as 'living in bad faith'. It is a refusal to acknowledge our agency and the responsibility we have in shaping our own lives.

Committing to something, whether it be a career, a relationship, or a personal goal, is a terrifying act. It requires us to close the doors of possibility, to make ourselves vulnerable to the unknown. However, it is through this commitment that we truly become something, that we invent our own values and carve out our own unique path.

Living authentically, in alignment with our true selves, means embracing the freedom to be the sole creators of our own values. It means acting according to our best understanding of who we are and what we want. Love, for example, is not some abstract concept; it is manifested through our actions and deeds. Genius is not an innate quality; it is expressed through works of art and creative endeavors.

To undertake anything in life, hope is not a prerequisite. We must commit ourselves first and then act accordingly. Viktor Frankl, a survivor of four concentration camps, speaks to the remarkable resilience and capacity of humans to defy even the harshest conditions imaginable. His experiences are a testament to the indomitable spirit of mankind and the ability to find meaning in the face of adversity.

In the pursuit of meaning, it is essential to be honest with ourselves. We are more complex than any label or societal expectation can capture. Embracing the inherent ambiguity of life allows us to explore and discover the intricacies of our own being. Through commitment and perseverance, we develop the granular parts of ourselves, unraveling the true essence and meaning of our lives.

While the search for meaning may be futile, there are actionable steps we can take to navigate this absurdity and embrace the wisdom of non-effort:

  • 1. Embrace the freedom to define yourself: Recognize that you have the power to shape your own life. Refrain from living in bad faith and embrace the responsibility that comes with freedom.
  • 2. Trust yourself and choose from the heart: Cultivate a relationship with life that is founded on trust and surrender. Make decisions effortlessly by listening to your intuition and trusting that something meaningful will emerge.
  • 3. Practice non-effort: Notice when you're caught in the trap of efforting and pushing. Take a moment to pause, relax your body, and breathe deeply. Trust that something will emerge from a place of non-effort and allow yourself to flow with the natural rhythm of life.

In conclusion, the search for meaning in life is a deeply personal and subjective endeavor. It is not something that can be found, but rather something that must be invented. Embracing the wisdom of non-effort and committing to our own values allows us to navigate the absurdity of existence and create a life of purpose and fulfillment. As Jean-Paul Sartre eloquently stated, "In life, a man commits himself and draws his own portrait, outside of which there is nothing."

Resource:

  1. "You Can’t Find the Meaning of Life", https://mythirdbrain.substack.com/p/you-cant-find-the-meaning-of-life (Glasp)
  2. "The Wisdom of Non-Effort - zen habits", https://zenhabits.net/wisdom-non-effort/ (Glasp)

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