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Life "purpose"

Discussion in 'Spiritual and Mental Well Being' started by Lifeapprentice, Feb 13, 2016.

  1. Lifeapprentice

    Lifeapprentice Well-Known Member

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    So I was searching for what people had to say on the net about how they found their life "purpose" .
    I say " purpose" as I do not think life has any purpose other than itself, and that's one of the problems, but on the other hand I feel like I need to do some valuable stuff.
    Some people are lucky enough to have a "passion" (passion do not exists when performed for hours daily) from childhood or adolescense onwards .
    However I'd venture to say for most of us important questions arise at key times and crossroads are found a few times along the way .

    I came across this excellent article, and a lot of the stuff on the site is interesting:
    http://markmanson.net/life-purpose


    What are your views on these questions, how did you handle them yourself? Are they still alive ?
    Did you even have the opportunity to ponder them or did you have to work very early to earn decent wages? Are those who wonder about this dirty spoiled brats who have too much time on their hands ?
    Is it just a matter of picking something and sticking to it? Is it bout the inner drive you carry into what you do?
    Did you follow the path which was the most obvious and accepted by your environment? Was it smooth sailing or did you feel you had to take your life into your own hands and screw whoever thought ill of it?

    One thing which occurs to me is that to answer these questions , or even dare to ask them, one has to do stuff, one must not be motionless , this is a recipe for being depressed and adding heaps of unanswerable questions.


    Share your thoughts!
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2016
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  2. Lifeapprentice

    Lifeapprentice Well-Known Member

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  3. Mebs

    Mebs Active Member

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    I only recently stumbled on Mark Manson's site,very philosophical stuff.

    Great thread idea Apprentice,will come back to it once I have a think about it a bit more and read those links.
     
  4. Corvid

    Corvid Active Member

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    I tried writing a reply to this twice and gave up. There are so many grand things that can be said about life purpose, but ultimately nothing really means anything. I'm not sure that anyone so much as "finds" their passion or purpose so much as they decide to do something, end up doing something or are just like a robot obsessed with doing something. That's not everyone. So many people throughout history just live their lives in obscurity. They are driven to preserve themselves and their genes, so they do. Reasoning about passions and purposes is a product of modern living – we are removed from many of the survival aspects of life so we have much more time to think than probably any preceding civilisation. We can literally decide almost anything, be almost anything, and the weight of that knowledge hangs around our necks and drags us down.
    Buddhism infers that too much choice is a bad thing, because a simple life is easier on us and makes us happier. We have almost unlimited choice in many areas of our lives. I have a friend who finds the choice of what to eat on a particular day crippling. He freezes and spends more time thinking about what to eat than he does cooking or eating.
    Simplification works for me. As much as possible, I remind myself to be grateful for the small things, not just as a figure of speech, I really practice this often. There's so much to be grateful for. Like the feeling of being wrapped up in a warm bed, in a safe house, in a safe country. Getting up and having a forest nearby to walk in, fresh clean air to enjoy. Sitting by a warm stove with the curtains drawn watching your favourite show on a miracle box that connects you to most of the world. Just being alive in this time is incredible. I think I could sit for a very long time just reading books that I get for next to nothing online, watching documentaries, talking to friends great distances away and getting instant responses. We can get the answers to questions that men spent their whole lives pondering in mere seconds.
    Despite this, some days are bad, we get bored, depressed, we question everything. But that's just part of life.
    Often I feel like nothing is happening, then I look back and realise that somehow lots of stuff got done. And for most of that time I felt like I was going nowhere, or that every bad situation I was in was going to last forever. Life is constant change, but it happens gradually, so we don't perceive it as it goes.
    When it comes to passions and goals, I tend to gravitate towards broad things rather than something specific. Freedom is important to me, and it requires compromise. You can be free in many ways, some of them don't require anything. I like to learn for no reason other than I like it. I play an instrument for no other reason than I enjoy it. I write sometimes just to express myself. I don't care if anyone ever reads it. I don't feel as bad as I used to about long periods of "inactivity", or even depression. It's just part of life. Restlessness is part of life, particularly when you're young.
    So I don't really know what to say in closing as these are just thoughts really. We, in the first world, get to decide what we become, but we don't necessarily have to become anything. (I read a story the other day about a young woman who wants to be a cat. I admire her clarity of vision and direction) We don't have to define our lives by the amount of wealth we produce, or status we attain, or approval we gain from others. Realistically, fuck other people and what they think. (As in, look at what our current value systems are perpetuating in the world) We have to remember to relax and not be too hard on ourselves. We can't all be Einstein, and we don't all worship money and the Donald Trumps of the world. It seems to me like a lot of the talk about passion and purpose relates back to status, productivity, financial gain and social acceptance. ​
     
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  5. BurtMeister3000

    BurtMeister3000 Staff Member

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    Great post!
     
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  6. Mebs

    Mebs Active Member

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    Wow brilliant post,ha how does anyone follow that?! :)
     
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  7. Kitsune

    Kitsune Staff Member

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    Excellent post Corvid . The saying, an "attitude of gratitude" came to mind while reading. It's true, we take a lot for granted, being used to all the luxuries we are surrounded with. In the grand existance of humans, it wasn't long ago people we're content to just wake each day and survive. Keeping things in perspective really brings awareness that good enough is not only just that, but a gift. Someone, somewhere else may be tickled to have the "problems" I do. I try not to moan too much. But even that is human too, I suppose. If there's nothing wrong, why advance. Why progress, personally, or collectively.

    So, to the original question...purpose. Well, I think purpose is influenced, and subjective. One person's life goal may be a complete waste of time to another. One person's contentment could be another's complete misery. And beliefs come into play. Religion, family, personal values.

    I agree with Corvid, a lot of focus is put on outside expectations and response. We shouldn't. I think purpose is about a combination of things. And even the link you gave (didn't read the second ones) covers this in general too.

    Being happy, because life is meant to be enjoyed, and lived. Not all the time, but overall. Whatever may do it, just being satisfied that whatever you spend your time on, is time well spent to you.
    Learning, and growing. Making mistakes, trial and error, and overcoming your own barriers to do and be whatever you like. Enjoy the journey, take the long road, and take in the view.
    Giving back some too. Because that's what helps each of us along, and makes the trip a bit more pleasant. Share the ride, the stories, and the lessons learned.
     
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  8. Lifeapprentice

    Lifeapprentice Well-Known Member

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    Excellent posts guys .
    You have fulfilled my expectations .
    Haha just joking.. :cool:
    Hold on I don't mean you did not, erm... you got the idea right?

    I agree with you on many aspects corvid and kitsune.
    I also practice being in the present, entirely into what I do at this precise moment (whether it's washing the dishes , sitting, learning new stuff etc..). I would not say I am always grateful for it though, but what usually happens is questions and dark or positive thoughts die down , and I can just live , I am. There is a feeling of inner peace and wellness as buddhism suggests.
    I agree that the lack of a need for survival and action makes many of us (plenty of people still have to survive) ponder these questions when others don't have the luxury to do so. I would venture to say this is one of the main reasons behind depression, one of the most important disease of the past fifty years if not more.


    As corvid and I agreed on (not sure you were ok with the idea kitsune as you wrote "life should be enjoyed"), life has no purpose and meaning in itself.
    If life has no meaning and no purpose then why the need to improve ourselves? After all at the end of the road we will all end in the graveyard , our flesh will become rotten and soon enough bones will be the last remnants of our past series of success, failures , improvements, work, love (charming right? :cry:) etc... This is where , imo, a bit of spirituality is needed.
    The following is not the kind of spiritualiy I meant but I read that buddhist monks , when they're about 20 yo, have to meditate on a corpse. They sit the whole day next to the same dead body, for weeks and have to meditate while looking at it. I'm pretty sure it would put things into perspective for a lot of us!

    As far as I know , contrary to animals we are aware of our life, of time (=future) and of death. This knowledge creates a need for a meaning , a need for a purpose, a need to make something out of our life , a need of a way to approach life. This , as you both suggested, may be as simple as trying to enjoy daily stuff we are lucky to experience (warm bed, warm spouse , warm steamed endives etc...), or it could be as difficult and far fetched as trying to become the next Justin Bieber (when you're bald) , the next greatest mathematician, the best plumber in the neighbourhood , you name it.

    The first option has, in my opinion, many benefits over the second one. The second one is close to what you both described as it stems from the social circle, ego, expectations and so on and so forth. This, in my opinion , sets up for unhappiness, disappointment and many more joyful feelings and realities.
    Why? Pretty simple, if you fall short of them (very likely) your ego and social circle will let you know you're worthless and a failure, if you succeed, the artificial meaning you gave to your life (when in truth it has no meaning other than what it is) will vanish and you will realize there was never one . Then you can decide either to be full of yourself and what you "achieved", push your goal further away (I wanted one house, now I need a mansion and a sports car), to be depressed, or to start enjoying the simple things as in the first option.
    It is obvious why the first option looks wiser.

    On the other hand is ambition a flaw? Is drive to succeed a bad thing? Could we ever have set a foot on the moon without ambition ? Doesn't ambition helps us achieve whatever we start quicker? Doesn't it spur us on and help us live fully in the present as long as it exists (by working wholheartedly on achieving one particular thing, everyday)? Do we need to be snails who rejoice in what they have and never look for more (I like the idea)?

    A third option, and I'm sorry to say I have to go back to my original question, is the following ( different from what I understood you both described in your posts):
    Instead of phrasing it as a "passion", a "purpose", I will put it into a very practical way : an activity we have a good deal of interests for so that we can spend hours a day doing it , be involved and not feel like we have accepted to waste our time 40 hours a week to finally enjoy our free time when it's done. I did not mean an idealistic idea we have to achieve before we die, I did not mean something driven by a result (as opposed to a process, very important), something influenced , again, by expectations , acknowledgements from others and ourselves.
    It may very well be different from any artistic or fame pursuit. You can feel very fulfilled fixing cars (although in this example you may still enjoy fame and it may be a kind of artistic performance in some ways), you are completely into it, you enjoy seeing the results of your work straight away, social interactions you have with customers, fixing the brakes so that dirty old fat ugly whore of a neighbour dies in the following days under misunderstood circumstances (;)).

    And does the last point I made suggest the activity/job could be anything , we are the ones who have to find the interest into it , and basically a hundred of different jobs could work for each of us?
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2016
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  9. Lifeapprentice

    Lifeapprentice Well-Known Member

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    By the way I feel like stepping out of life with this post haha :D.
     
  10. Corvid

    Corvid Active Member

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    Good posts from both of you. I can't add or subtract anything from what Kitsune said. For Lifehacker, with your meditating monks, you reminded me of a story from Ancient Egypt. When they had a large meeting and banquet for important people, periodically 2 slaves would stretcher the bare bones of a corpse through the crowd to remind people of their mortality and to prevent people from getting too full of themselves in their roles.
    Regarding what job you can do to fulfil your purpose, the job itself doesn't have to be your purpose, it could just be a job that provides for the lifestyle you choose to experience. Then, some jobs get better and easier as the years pass. Unless you're in some soul crushing occupation like telephone sales, or prison warden.
    I'm reading a book at the moment called: "Man's search for meaning", by Victor Frankl. Frankl was a doctor, psychiatrist and an Austrian Jew in WW2. He was imprisoned in the concentration camps for 3 years and survived. He saw a lot of people die, he saw people lose hope and die within a few days of it. He made some keen observations on the attitudes and mentality of people in the worst of situations, and noticed distinctions between certain people who died and those that survived. He believes that a person's ability to choose their attitude towards their life is one of the fundamental freedoms that can't be taken away no matter how bad the circumstances. In some cases, it was attitude alone that saved the life of an inmate. Here's an extract I read shortly after I read your post, which some of you might call a synchronicity.

    "An active life serves the purpose of giving man the opportunity to realise values in creative work, while a passive life of enjoyment affords him the opportunity to obtain fulfilment in experiencing beauty, art or nature. But there is also purpose in that life which is almost barren of both creation and enjoyment and admits of but one possibility of higher moral behaviour: namely, in man's attitude to his existence, an existence restricted by external forces. A creative life and a life of enjoyment are banned to him. But not only creativeness and enjoyment are meaningful. If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. without suffering and death, human life cannot be complete.
    The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity - even under the most difficult circumstances - to add a deeper meaning to his life. It may remain brave, dignified and unselfish. Or in the bitter fight for self preservation he may forget his human dignity and become little more than an animal. Here lies the chance for a man either to make use of or to forgo the opportunities of attaining the moral values that a difficult situation may afford him. And this decides whether he is worthy of his sufferings or not."

    Unfortunately, no one can answer deeper existential questionings but the person suffering under them. You may accept one set of answers naturally, or choose to accept a faith because the unknowing abyss is too much to bear. There's lots of people like that in organised religion, they know that the religious doctrine is false, but the truth about the apparent emptiness of reality is too much for them to bear. Or perhaps the burden of taking the responsibility for their own lives and own answers is too much to bear. Ambition isn't always a bad thing, yes, we put a man on the moon.(I think?) We have improved our lives in myriad ways. In fact, we've improved our planet to the point that it's possible we might not survive at all.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2016
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