What is people’s biggest problem today?
Trying. To. Be. Happy.
Nassim Taleb writes, “Happiness, we don’t know what it means, how to measure it or how to reach it, but we know extremely well how to avoid unhappiness.”
Look at the mass neurotic triad- Depression, Addiction, and Aggression.
In one study of alcoholics, 18 out of 20 looked upon their existence as meaningless. People are more likely to feel aggressive when they feel life is empty and meaningless.
Criminality and purpose in life are inversely related.
Motivation by the pleasure principle and the will to power are substitutes for a frustrated will to meaning.
Lack of meaning and purpose is indicative of emotional maladjustment.
Normally man does not seek pleasure or happiness, it is a side effect of living out your purpose and the self transcendence of existence.
Nassim Nicolas Taleb writes, “Games were created to give nonheroes the illusion of winning. In real life, you don’t know who really won or lost (except too late), but you can tell who is heroic and who is not.”
Only a brain that is functioning pathologically is characterized by the attempt to avoid tension unconditionally.
It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness.
“I went to a happiness conference. Researchers looked very unhappy.” -Taleb
Despair is suffering without meaning.
The apparent meaninglessness of life is a human achievement. No animal cares whether its life has meaning. The courage to question whether life has meaning should be matched by patience-wait until meaning dawns on you.
The existential vacuum derives from
- Not knowing through instincts what to do
- Not knowing by traditions and values what to do
- A person doesn’t know what they must or should do, so they don’t even know what they basically WISH to do.
- Instead, they wish to do what other people do, which is conformism, or they do what other people wish them to do, which is totalitarianism.
So how do you find meaning?
Meaning must be found, it cannot be given. In other words, you must discover meaning, you cannot be taught or instructed in it. Meaning is not merely what is, but in what can be. It is the free contemplation of the possible.
“Mental clarity is the child of courage, not the other way around. The biggest error since Socrates has been to believe that lack of clarity is the source of all our ills, not the result of them” -Taleb
If I take man as he is, I make him worse. If I take him as he ought to be, I make him become what he can be. -Goethe
A. Maslow says “the business of self actualization can best be carried out via a commitment to an important job.”
Self actualization can be obtained only through a detour, through the fulfillment of meaning, so identity is available only through responsibility, through being responsible for the fulfilment of meaning.
Are your goals mere means, or meanings?
The will to meaning is a reliable criterion of mental health.
Do not think that going to therapy for 10 years is enough. Patients are suffering a lack of life content- rather than clinical symptomatology -and this may well account for interminable analyses- because in such cases the psychoanalytic treatment becomes the only life content available to the patient.
Meaning may be found in:
- Creating a work
- Doing a deed
- Encountering someone
- Experiencing something but also
- The way in which you stand up to suffering.
The measure of a man is the way in which he bears up under misfortune. – Plutarch
3 Facts of Human Existence
- A Will to Meaning
- A Meaning in Suffering
- A Freedom of Will
Ontologized morals in Frankl’s Logotherapy simply state:
- -what is good- that which fosters a more meaningful life
- -what is bad-that which hinders a more meaningful life
Protesting is struggling FOR something. Antitesting is against something.
Caught in an existential vacuum, they did not know of anything worth fighting for, and there were so many things to be against!