“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”
― Viktor E. Frankl
Nothing means anything unless we decide it does. Think about it, only when we decide something has meaning does it. If we decide it does not have meaning, it becomes irrelevant. Research discusses who we look for self justification. In technical terms this can be referred to as confirmation bias. That is we seek information or pay mind to information that supports our beliefs and ignore information that suggests otherwise. It is what we do to make life livable because life is difficult. Without meaning and predictability in life, it makes life more difficult.
Meaning is a human construct and meaning is a figment of our imagination, according to David McRaney in “You are Not So Smart”. He explains that we use the Texas Sharp Shooter Fallacy, or artificially construct patterns in randomness. The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy is if we had a barn wall with random shots all over the wall, we would draw a bullseye around a cluster of shot holes to create the impression we were had good marksmanship. This is an example of paying attention only to what could be meaningful, the signal, and ignoring the noise, all the other shots. He details how we do this regularly in mind and through life to find meaning.
However, as he says, this helps make life more livable. If we also connect it to our values and paneugenesis, the practice of generating comprehensive improvements by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits, it is about more than us. We also must remember, what we do affects everything else. We also know as shown previously, what we think does change our physiological reaction as demonstrated by Dr. Alia Crum’s work here.
Of course the big question is what does it all mean or does it mean anything? In a short 5 minute presentation, Don Ardell explains why life is meaningless. While he argues there is no meaning, it seems he also suggests we create meaning.
This is well supported by science. If this is so, shouldn’t we then endeavor to create all good by generating comprehensive improvements through interactions from which everyone and everything benefits? Doing so will help us create data that supports our belief we have a purposeful meaning and that makes us feel good about ourselves and others feel better too – Yea.
Feeling good about yourself leads to positive ripples. As Dan Ariely and others have shown, the emotional state we have going into an interaction determines the result of that interaction. Going into an interaction with positive emotions creates more beneficial interactions than if we go in with negative emotions. Feeling good about ourselves, by contributing to the common good will create positive feedback loop that keeps paying it forward. Even if life is meaningless, at least we made an effort to create meaningful experiences in our life.
My recommendation, if you want your life to mean something good, work to generate comprehensive improvements by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits. A way to do this is to use the 7C’s – Accept the Challenge, Have Courage, Make a Commitment, Develop Competence, Create Connections, Provide Contributions and Build on those Consequences for continuous and never ending improvement. If you are interested, more detailed 7 C discussion is available here.
To reinforce these ideals, Maria Konnikova explained in her interesting book, The Biggest Bluff: How I learned to Pay Attention, master myself and win” ©2020
Chance is just chance – it is neither good, nor bad, nor persona until we supply it with meaning.
Enjoy Don Ardell’s 5 minute talk: Life is Meaningless