Meaning of Life — Life as We Know It and the Pursuit of Happiness
Ever since I last wrote, I’ve had every intention of writing more frequently. I started a laundry list of interesting topics of the day. Or just random thoughts I had in the moment that felt worthy of my next blog entry. But of course, the operative word being intention, I never got to them. My writing topic list got longer and longer and frankly, I’ll have to salvage it from my laundry list of notes…
Anyway, so my husband gave me time away from kids to work on some interview homework I have been procrastinating on. And so on a Saturday morning (yes, I am aware it is not a weekday), while my family is out having fun somewhere– albeit messy, loud, mind-losing fun, I am sitting at a CB trying to get started. My BPC has not kicked in and so while I wait, I thought, aha! perfect time for my blog. And of course, I’m having writer’s block and can’t think of a specific topic to write about. It’s probably because I’m just waiting for the BPC to hit my brain capsules so they can start releasing and firing off brain energies to my case study. My brain isn’t functioning properly that I’m making up random word connections… hey, if it makes sense, then we’re good, right?
Just planning on writing freely today. Whenever I listen to classical music while writing, I get pretty somber. It may also be because the grandma ladies behind me are talking about how they’ll survive life once their husbands die– how they don’t even know all their estate planning things… uh, great Saturday morning coffee talk.
Anyway, so here goes my brain spitting out random misfires on a Saturday morning-almost afternoon. I read recently that we shouldn’t be striving for happiness because the pursuit of happiness is what makes people unhappy these days. They found that people that pursue “happy” are so focused on making themselves happy, that they are more selfish. They pursue check-the-box items that with each item checked, they figure it will make their lives incrementally a little happier. But the article continued to say that, animals live like that too. Hungry? Get food. Horny? Get sex. Hot? Get A/C. You get the point. Basically those pursuits of checking-the-box won’t really bring happiness and in fact, some of the pursuits are much more difficult and lengthy that it was never worth it from the beginning.
Okay. Got it. So no check-the-box happiness goals. They just make us more selfish. Got it.
Then what? What’s the magic bullet that brings us ultimate happiness? Unfortunately, there’s nothing. But. The article went on to say that from historical data and random studies (e.g., holocaust survivors), the best pursuit of life should be finding meaning. People that try to live with purpose and have meaning in their lives- communities, families, etc… they live the most fulfilling lives. What? Let me try to explain from my POV.
So first off, people that live for meaning, they won’t have the happiest lives. Inherently being connected to families, friends and communities will naturally make you entwined in their lives, which ultimately will include their misfortunes. By being so connected, you will be less selfish because you will have to give more of you to others (think opportunity costs). You will have moments of happiness and moments of sadness, even moments of depression… but when your life is full of meaning and purpose. (e.g., doing good in the community, fighting for something) then it makes life worth living. The holocaust studies from the article showed that the people that fought the hardest and longest in those concentration camps were people that had meaning in their lives. Fighting to live one more day of struggles and torture so that they can maybe see their kid or whatever else was outside of those camp walls that gave them “meaning” to fight to live.
Thank God we are not in those situations. But life outside is harder than it used to be. Life seems harder than when my parents were growing up. Maybe not. Maybe it’s the generational “our generation has it the hardest” mindset. But our generation– with so much convenience, easy access to anything and everything, easily being able to keep in touch with anyone and everyone, networking being as easy as befriending on linkedin, money being relatively easy to come by, people traveling everywhere and “trying local eats” becoming a cliche, from organic baby food coming in pouches to food being delivered at my fingertips– yet we are the most medicated, depressed society… ever. Maybe our generation expects so much happiness, constantly at a certain high and always. Maybe we are the ruin of instant gratification gone wild. Maybe nothing will ever be good enough.
It makes me sad. Sometimes when I think of society as a whole, see social media, see everyone’s own pitch and branding. It makes me sad. I wish Brene Brown and Mitch Albom (Tuesday’s with Morrie) could be exposed to everyone so that people could be disillusioned by all the bad pursuits of happinesses.
Anyway, so for me. I don’t know why but lately, I’ve just taken a look at my own life. Maybe it’s from keto clarity. I really wanted community and frankly yearned for it. I’m not going to lie but there are some days where we have too much on our plate and I want to cancel on people but I’m so grateful for how much community we have built. Just this weekend alone, we had a playdate yesterday and church event. Today we have a friend’s bbq and tomorrow we have a classmate’s birthday. Next weekend is already booked too. As much as I might complain, (see “never good enough”) I am so thankful. We no longer live on our own family island. In fact, I’m excited to make my little mommy group Friendsgiving/Christmas gift exchange next year. We’ll see if it all pans out. Sometimes I can get pretty fantastical…
Ok back on topic. So after reading that article, I thought, do I have meaning? And I believe I do. I’m grateful for it. I try hard not to be plugged into social media too much. I have a family that I love so much. Even though my older son sometimes asks me to punch him in the face with all his misgivings and the younger one is like a sour and sweet gummy candy, I love them more than they will ever understand. My heart feels like it’s going to burst out of my chest whenever they laugh uncontrollably or when they just give me a look and then break out in a big-all-over-face-smile– serious heart-melt. Every night, after I nurse and put down the younger maniacal son (AT), I go into the older son’s room (CA) and I give him several kisses while he’s sound asleep and I tell him how much I love him. When I leave his room, my heart feels full in that moment. It really does. And I’m so grateful to God for giving us these 2 special creatures.
My husband, (KM), sure, sometimes I wish he’d help out more. But I’ve already learned that I’m such a control freak, that I only want him to help me on certain days and the way I would do things only. There is only ONE way to fold laundry and sort the kids’ clothes for the car, for the closets and for the dressers. Don’t get me started with the dishes… And so it’s really a losing battle for him. ha. But I don’t think there’s anyone else that can deal with my BS, help me to stop and appreciate life in the moment and love me unconditionally. I know we talk about it a lot but I truly can’t wait for the days when the kids are gone living their lives and we travel the world and “try local foods” together. Can’t wait for that– maybe we’ll have the french riviera property (or KM’s mexican property).. but we can always dream until then. I don’t think I ever told KM this but he has this laugh when he’s really cracking up… but it makes me genuinely happy. He used to laugh like that because of me but lately it’s usually because of the kids… but yesterday, I got one from him when I told him a joke about a real life scenario and called it “facebook post gone live.” He was cracking up… and it made AT crack up from the backseat, not even understanding what we’re talking about, but knowing his dad’s laugh was genuine–was reason enough for AT to laugh with us. It’s those moments that I try to never forget. And it’s that special laugh from KM that will always make me smile from ear to ear. (I’m smiling as I type this now)
I wish my family back where I grew up was healthier and happier. Sometimes I wish they weren’t running 1000 miles a minute or dreaming for even better days… but all I can do is pray. I love them to death but I’ve learned that the equation of me having no control over their lives, coupled with living close by and seeing their day to day livings, causes me to be physically stressed and makes my ED rage. I wish my dad would find meaning that he could thoroughly enjoy. Maybe his grandkids… Anyway, my brother once told me a story about a porcupine and to live a healthy life with family, you live like the porcupine. Sometimes you put more space and sometimes there’s no space– whatever the situation deems fit. And as much as I’d love to see my family more often, the physical distance has been working out. I know they try hard in life. Want to do good and be good. And I admire their tenacity and heart.
I challenge you to think about your life’s purpose and/or meaning. What is it? Are you a check-the-box happiness pursuer? If you were a prisoner in the concentration camp, what would be your motivation to make it through another day? Do your actions or time spent show this to be true? If you died tomorrow, was it all worth it?
For me, my life isn’t near perfectly happy. I don’t have a lot of check-the-box happy boxes. So I don’t get to check off a lot of happy boxes (my to-do checklist is another story). While I wish I was fully confident in my skin and loving thyself, I still have days of disliking my body. Keto flu, kids, lack of sleep and money, sometimes makes my life feel miserable. But I try to be a good person, try to live by example with the kids, try to be a good wife, daughter, sister, friend, etc. I try to do good and be good. And I do so because it genuinely brings me happiness (even momentarily). I try to be generous and kind. I try to bring joy to others. Random acts of kindness truly make me excited…
And after 35 years, I’ve realized that these are the things that bring meaning to my life.
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