Embracing the Absurdity: Finding Meaning and Making Decisions


Hatched by Glasp

Aug 14, 2023

5 min read


Embracing the Absurdity: Finding Meaning and Making Decisions

Introduction: The Absurdity of Life and the Search for Meaning

Life is a perplexing journey that often leaves us questioning its purpose and meaning. We yearn to find that elusive essence that will guide us towards a fulfilling and meaningful existence. However, after a year of deep contemplation, I have come to realize that life itself is absurd. It offers no inherent purpose or explanation. This realization can be anxiety-inducing, as we are conditioned to believe that there must be something out there meant specifically for us to discover and pursue in order to live a good life. But the truth is, the world is a construct, a product of our collective imagination, and it operates without any predetermined rules. Therefore, we cannot "find" meaning; we can only invent it. The essence of life only comes into existence when we commit to a certain path or belief. We are free to define our own purpose and are responsible for the choices we make.

The Prevalence of Meaninglessness in Society

In today's society, a sense of meaninglessness seems to pervade our collective consciousness. This can be attributed to the pervasive belief that every individual has a predetermined life mission. As more and more people distance themselves from traditional religious beliefs, the concept of a divine purpose becomes increasingly elusive. We find solace in stories and narratives that provide assurance that our lives have significance. Existentialists, however, grapple with the discomfort of a world devoid of God, as it eliminates the possibility of finding objective values in an intelligible heaven. Without an infinite and perfect consciousness to conceive of them, concepts like good and honesty lose their a priori existence. Existentialism posits that man's existence precedes his essence – we materialize in the world, encounter ourselves, and only then define ourselves. Life itself holds no intrinsic meaning; it is we who give it purpose. Value is merely the meaning that we assign to it.

From Human Beings to Human Becomings: Embracing Change

We are not static creatures; we are in a constant state of transformation. It is through assuming complete responsibility for our lives that we mold ourselves into something greater and invent our own values. Denying our freedom and refusing to define and redefine ourselves is what existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre refers to as 'living in bad faith.' This entails dismissing the ability to shape our own identities at any given moment. Committing to something, even in the face of uncertainty, requires shutting the doors of other possibilities. This can be daunting, as we fear making the wrong choice. However, it is through living authentically – embracing the freedom of being the sole creator of our values and consistently acting in alignment with our understanding of ourselves – that we truly become who we are meant to be. Existentialists argue that love, genius, and other profound aspects of life emerge only through action and manifestation. Therefore, we must commit ourselves first and then act, even without the guarantee of hope.

The Role of Emotions in Decision-Making

Contrary to popular belief, emotions are not the enemy of good decision-making. In fact, they can serve as valuable guides if we learn to harness their power. The key is to take the time to identify the emotions we experience when faced with a decision and the emotions we desire to feel when reflecting on that decision in the future. By naming our feelings, we create a space between our emotions and our actions. This distance allows us to examine our emotions, acknowledge them, and prevent them from overpowering our rational thought and agency. Visualizing our success and the accompanying emotions can provide clarity and direction. How would it feel to have made a successful decision? Do we experience a sense of accomplishment, relief, or a clearer path for the future? By applying emotional bookends to our decision-making process, we can better understand and tolerate our emotions, enabling us to make informed choices that align with our long-term goals while honoring our present feelings.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace the Absurdity: Accept that life itself is devoid of inherent meaning. Instead of searching for a predetermined purpose, embrace the freedom to define your own path and invent your own values.
  • 2. Commitment and Authenticity: Do not fear committing to something despite the ambiguity of life. By fully embracing your responsibility in shaping your own identity and consistently acting in alignment with your understanding of yourself, you will discover the granular parts of your being that contribute to the meaning of your life.
  • 3. Harnessing Emotions: Rather than viewing emotions as obstacles, learn to identify and acknowledge them. Visualize successful outcomes and the accompanying positive emotions to guide your decision-making process. Apply emotional bookends to better tolerate and understand your emotions, enabling you to make decisions that align with your long-term goals and personal growth.

Conclusion: Your Self-Created Portrait

In the grand tapestry of life, each individual has the power to commit themselves and draw their own unique portrait. Life may be absurd, but within this absurdity lies the opportunity to find meaning through our choices and actions. By embracing our freedom, embracing change, and harnessing our emotions, we can navigate the inherent ambiguity of life and create a meaningful existence. Remember, we are not merely human beings; we are human becomings – constantly evolving and shaping our own destinies. It is through this process of becoming that we find our true selves and give our lives the significance we crave.

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