The Meaning of Life

Most of us worry, at least at some point if life, about not having a goal or meaning in life.

But ‘Meaning of life’ is hard to define. When you think about something that’s hard to define your inner voice will lead you to worry sooner or later.

So we tried to find something less vague. We compared two opposite states that happen to us:

State 1) It’s hard to get up in the morning. It’s hard to focus and stay on any task. We have to force ourselves to do anything. We take many breaks. We think a lot about the meaning of life, so naturally we worry.

State 2) It’s hard to sleep because we can’t wait to get up and get to some task. It’s hard to take a break because we’re so focused and engaged in the task. We don’t worry because we’re thinking about the task all the time.

We identified that what we feel in State 2 is excitement about one or more tasks or objectives. Great, ‘excitement’ is much easier to define than ‘meaning of life’.

The book “Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explains nicely when we feel excited about a task. When we are in the state of flow, fully immersed in a specific task. When we have a seemingly inexhaustible amount of focus. It’s when we do something that’s slightly above our skill level but challenging. And the challenge must be achievable.

Not only the new things are excited. It’s often just a new angle. A new small discovery in a know space that requires upgrading your skills slightly. And poses a challenge that’s exciting but doable. Here are two examples. They are simple, but before you tackle a big thing in life you can practice on small things.

Example 1

Let’s imagine you feel like you don’t enjoy playing the guitar any more. Instead of looking for another instrument you can make the guitar more exciting. You can try to create a state of flow. You need to understand your skill level and find a challenge slightly above it. Maybe learn to play with a metronome or a drum machine (you can install one on your computer). Learn one pentatonic scale and start improvising.

Additionally you can make the environment more exciting. If you played in the living room before, now visit each room (even bathroom) and find out which one has the best acoustics. Or get a microphone and use it to play with headphones to hear more and add special effects. We got a Tascam DR-07 and use it with all our instruments. It improved the experience a lot.

Once you feel bored again – increase the challenge slightly. Then try to observe other areas of your life and do the same to them.

Example 2

I you jog google some tips to improve your technique. A good technique can significantly increase your capacity and lower the impact running has on your joints.

Take a different route each time you run. You can even turn your running into sightseeing (:

Get a GPS watch that tracks your pace and heart rate. Set a new (just slightly higher) speed or distance goal every time.

How to approach it

The easiest thing you can do is to set up blocks of time to think about excitement in your life.

You can analyze your day and write down all the major tasks. Then next to each task write:

  • Does it excite me or is it something I feel like I have to do or is boring?
  • Do I look forward to doing it?
  • Does the time fly when I do it?

Then for each task spend a few minutes trying to think: How can I make it more interesting? Can I substitute it with something more exciting of the same purpose? Do I really have to do it or can I eliminate it? Can I look at it differently to change my feelings about it?

Commuting to work may be a must you can’t avoid. But feeling negative about it is a result of your approach to it, your angle. And that’s something you can change.

And really set a time for doing this. Even 5 minutes per task. Use a stopwatch and force yourself to focus on thinking about it during the time. It will feel awkward first. Then very awkward 🙂 But it’s practically guaranteed that if you don’t give up you’ll find something. And once you do you’ll be amazed. And after some practice it will not feel awkward any more.

Finding something new

If you want something new set a separate time to explore new things. People didn’t find gold on the street. They were digging for it, sometimes for years. So dig. Edison didn’t happen to invent a light bulb as a result of a single idea. He tried 10,000 things before finding the one. So keep trying.

Some examples:

  • Buy an hour of ping-pong instruction.
  • Subscribe to Skillshare and watch a fragment of a different course each day.
  • Ask a friend to take you to his/her training next time.

How do you do it?

Please share how you approach adding meaning and excitement to your life!

(This post is part of Goalist Training)

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