It might be that for several days, weeks, months, years, or even decades, everything in your life has worked out well. Your life seems it has meaning. In your younger years, you also have lots of energy, and with our species’ natural longing to fit into society, you worked hard at making your life work.
Even if you didn’t consciously work at making your life work when you started your adult life, there were so many new things that occupied your time, you might not even have realized that the things you were busy with just incidentally worked out for you. Even while still in school, you might have been good at academics or a sport—or possibly good at academics and sports—so things worked out very nicely.
Our Life Has Meaning, Or Does It?
(There are of course students who do not like academics or sports who usually struggle at school. They might not yet know where their interests are. And there are those students who have interests elsewhere that might not be catered to. However, here, we’re exploring where students excel in academics or sports or both.)
So imagine that year after year, or possibly even decades have gone by with everything just falling into place and working out exactly for you. Well, almost exactly. From time to time, things might not work out. But with some effort, you got yourself back on track and maneuvered things until they worked out.
No doubt, everyone reading this can empathize with the above scenario. As we all experience, when things work out for us, we’re on top of the world. We feel we can conquer everything. And, we experience that when things turn out slightly differently than we expected, it doesn’t feel that good. We might even feel down. And then we find something or do something to get us out of what brings us down so we can stay on top. After all, being on top certainly is a good feeling. And by comparison, being down doesn’t feel great at all. In fact, we’ll do almost anything to avoid feeling down.
So far, we’ve looked at the smaller “down periods.” But what about when something happens and we’re down for an extended period, say, a month or even a year? What if we have an experience and are down for, say, five to ten years, and it turns out that we cannot see why we’re down, but no matter what we do, we stay down?
What, then, if we’re down for extended periods? As we all experience, a down period that only lasts for an hour or a day feels terrible. So what about feeling down for months, or a year, or even longer? Could anyone who hasn’t experienced that even know what it feels like? Most probably not.
Our Life Has No Meaning
During these periods, we feel as if our life has no meaning, and we might become desperate to find something that’ll get us out of “the down” just so we can feel alive again.
But perhaps we cannot get out of feeling down, so we stay down.
There are certainly people who seem to make things work out all the time. Their lives always seem to go well, and they probably don’t know what it’s like to have an extended down period. Of course, this is highly unlikely, and outside observers don’t know everything about these people’s lives. But it’s still possible these people have never experienced an extended down period.
Either way, if our circumstances result in a feeling that our life has meaning, and then those circumstances turn to ones where we feel our life no longer has meaning, it begs the questions: Did our life have meaning to begin with? Had we actually been deriving “meaning” from our circumstances working out, and then lost our “meaning” when our circumstances didn’t work out?
Our Meaning Is Influenced By Circumstances
Is this indeed meaning, when the supposed meaning is influenced by circumstances?
Looking very carefully at meaning and circumstances, note that circumstances are things outside us. Yet our meaning isn’t something that exists outside of us, but inside us. In What to Do if You Feel Your Life Has No Meaning, the author states: It varies from person to person, as each individual needs to embark on an inner journey to find their own meaning.
So when things work out, and it feels that our lives have meaning, is that indeed the case?
Is it also possible that even if our life works out during our whole lifetime, that our life perhaps isn’t based on us living our meaning?