The Meaning of Life

Posted by Rex Alexander on Mon 5 Feb 24 in Depression, General Semantics, Happiness, musterbation, musty thinking, Religion |

Perhaps there are such people as “pure philosophers” who placidly think about the “meaning of life” as a kind of “recreation,” and are not motivated to do so by existential angst.


Perhaps, but I don’t know. However, I doubt that most happy, productive, engaged people spend a lot of time ruminating over the “meaning of life” and such. Do you think that people who avoid these “deep” questions are inherently shallow and callow?  Or possibly is it that they just intuitively sense that such questions are pointless and troublesome? Some do think about the “big questions”, of course, and those are the philosophers. However, I think the problem of the “meaning of life” is a sort of semantic hangover. If on some level you did not have a very strong belief  (typically Christian) that life MUST have meaning, it simply would not be an issue, would it?


How to Stubbornly Refuse to Make Yourself Miserable… by Albert Ellis


I guess it is glib to point out that if life has no absolute meaning, many people certainly find solace and comfort and encouragement in the relative meaning they bring to life. Not in the sense that they discover the meaning of life, but that hey assign meaning to life by virtue of involvement with activities that create joy and fulfillment and “meaning” for them. Let me emphasize for them, because what brings me meaning to them may seem vacuous and foolish to you, and vice versa.


Bottom line, I am not knocking philosophy or philosophers, not by a long shot. However, I do know  that much of the garden variety rumination over the meaning of life that people do is morbid and pointless, even pathological, and represents nothing more than irrational, distorted thinking and self-defeating automatic self-talk that generates feelings of depression, despair, hopelessness and helplessness.

It is not my intention to upset anyone, although this observation often seems to:  In my experience, most of the time (but not always) an over-concern with the meaning of life and other witless abstractions is a symptom of depression or other emotional disturbance.

How to Develop a Sense of
Purpose and Meaning

Participate meaningfully in your life, have rewarding relationships, do work that is fruitful and satisfying, develop engaging pastimes and hobbies, be generous and do for others, have a sense of humor,  live a healthy balanced lifestyle and it is unlikely you will have much time to worry about the so called “meaning of life.”

On the other hand, if you are not doing these things and you were to suddenly discover the Meaning of life (with a capital “M”), what good would that do you?

From A Guide to Personal Happiness
by Dr. Albert Ellis (1982), p. 176-179

Suggestions for Enjoyable Pursuits

Aesthetic Appreciation
Attending ballets, art galleries, concerts, mime performances, museums, plays, serious motion pictures, etc.

Clothing Activities
Designing, Dressing, Making clothes, Photographing, Researching, Shopping, etc.

Child Care
Babysitting, Bathing, Big Brother and Big Sister activities, Dressing,
Nursing, Playing with children, Teaching, etc.

Books, Bottles, Cans, Coins, Comics, Match covers, Metals, Stamps,

Calisthenics, Cross bars, Gym horses, Jogging, Punching bag, Running, Shadow boxing, Skipping rope, Weight lifting, Yoga, etc.

Daydreaming, Dreaming, Imagining, Planning, Plotting, Scheming,

Financial Activities
Balancing checkbooks, Bill paying, Bookkeeping, Budgeting, Playing the stock market, Taking financial courses, etc.

Food Activities
Baking, Barbecuing, Collecting recipes, Cooking, Eating out, Preparing gourmet meals, Reading cookbooks, etc.

Anagrams, Bridge, Cards, Checkers, Chess, Crossword puzzles, Go, Jigsaw puzzles, Love and sex games, Monopoly, Scrabble, Word games, etc.

Garden Activities
Flower arranging, Gardening, Landscaping, Mowing the lawn, Plant ing, Raising plants at home, Visiting the botanical gardens, etc.

Graphic Arts
Cartooning, Collages, Drawing, Finger painting, Lettering, Lithography, Painting, Photography, Water coloring, etc.

Handicraft Activities
Basket making, Bookbinding, Crocheting, Embroidering, Jewelry
making, Knitting, Leather making, Lace making, Metal work, Model making, Refurbishing furniture, Stained glass making, etc.

Helping People
Advising, Counseling, Comforting, Cheering, Companioning, Hospital and institutional activities, Psychotherapy, Group therapy, etc.

Humorous Activities
Cartooning, Collecting jokes, Fun-making, Jesting, Joke-making,
Joke-telling, Playing practical jokes and pranks, Punning, Writing humorous songs and stories, etc.

Martial Arts
Aikido, Guns, Fencing, Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Karate, Wrestling, War games,

Mechanical Activities
Carpentry, Fixing appliances, Fixing apartments and houses, Wood working, Working on cars and boats, etc.

Outdoor Activities
Backpacking, Bicycling, Bird watching, Climbing, Butterfly catching, Canoeing, Camping, Fishing, Hiking, Horseback riding, Hunting, Ice skating, Kite-flying, Motoring, Picnicking, Racing cars, Skating, Skiing, Sleigh riding, Sunbathing, etc.

Performing Arts
Acting, Ballet, Dancing, Debating, Mime, Modern dance, Singing, etc.

Breeding, Caring for pets, Showing animals, Training animals, Assisting in an animal hospital, etc.

Political and Economic Activities
Campaigning, Discussing, Ecological causes, Consumer groups, Political groups, Proselytizing, Political writing, etc.

Browsing, Reading fiction, nonfiction, plays, poems, Reading aloud,
Play readings, Poetry readings, etc.

Relaxing Activities
Bathing, Chanting, Massage, Meditating, Muscle relaxation, Smok ing, Soaking, etc.

Religious and Mystical Activities
Chanting, Church going, Meditating, Praying, Reading, Preaching,
Studying religion, Teaching Sunday School, etc.

Scientific Activities
Anatomy, Anthropology, Biology, Chemistry, Herpetology, Astronomy,
Medicine, Physics, Psychology, Sociology, Zoology, etc.

Sex and Love Activities
Anal sex, Caring, Caressing, Heterosexual activities, Homosexual
activities, Helping, Kissing, Loving, Making sacrifices, Oral sex, Petting, Pornography, Sexual intercourse, Saying kind and loving things, etc.

Bar hopping, Clubs, Dinner for two, Dinner parties, Conversation,
Fraternal organizations, Giving parties, Group activities, Partying, Rap
sessions, Social functions, Visiting friends, etc.

Concert going, Listening to music, radio, etc., Watching circuses,
movies, pageants, parades, plays, sports, TV, etc.

Badminton, Baseball, Basketball, Dancing, Football, Golf, Gymnastics, Pingpong, Pool, Running, Skating, Swimming, Tennis, Track, Water
sports, etc.

Art, Language, History, Math, Music, Science, Social science, etc.

Therapy Activities

Group therapy, Individual therapy, Self-help groups, Therapizing
Dthers, Therapy workshops, etc.

Foreign travel, Local trips, Reading and observing travel books and
films, Sightseeing, etc.

Useful Activities and Chores
Cleaning, Cooking, Dishwashing, Home improvements, Ironing,
Mowing the lawn, Shopping, Washing the car, etc.

Venting Feelings
Hitting, Picketing, Punching pillows, Protesting, Screaming, Talking, Writing, etc.

Volunteer Activities
Volunteering for charitable groups, Boy Scout and Girl Scout groups,
child care groups, camps, hospitals, nonprofit organizations, political
groups, etc.







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Originally posted 2015-03-11 05:39:27.

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