Make Life Meaningful

Is it possible to make life meaningful for 15 year old Angie? On a Yahoo web page, she seeks advice with her posting of despair. Her life has really become pointless. She hates her mother, who constantly yells and screams at her over tiny little things. She is not allowed to go out. To escape from the crushing nagging, she has decided to stay locked up in her room upstairs. She plans to leave home as soon as she reaches 18.

But, even freed from her home, she finds nothing she can look forward to. She just wants to die. She also writes “And please don't say God has a plan for all of us or anything like that because I DO NOT believe in God or anything to do with that.” Can Angie ever be happy, confined as she is to the sullen misery of her room? 
Yes. She can discover a purpose, which can grant her happiness and make life meaningful for her.

Angie's attitude to life is not her choice. Her nervous system triggers multiple 
emotions within her. Her mother's harsh words anger her. Her inability to move out of her home frustrates her. But, most of all, an inability to see any real point in her life envelops her in despair. Anger, frustration and despair are neural signals triggered by her mind, which senses disturbing patterns.

Evolution programmed emotional signals to produce decisive behaviors in animals. Those signals take control of memories, attitudes, internal systems and behavior. Anger makes animals strike out. Fear makes them freeze, or run away. And, like a wild bird flailing in a cage, despair makes their systems seek self destruction. Unable to see any hope in her life, Angie's system triggers despair, an emotion, which seeks to destroy her.

  • Angie's despair is the emotional response of her nervous system to its distorted perception of her world.
  • Despair is self destructive. A purpose in life overcomes despair and brings back normality.
  • Religion offers a grand purpose to life. But, for skeptics, that purpose lacks credibility.
  • Through millions of years of evolution, life developed a grand purpose - be happy and contribute to life.
  • Each person's contribution is insignificant in the larger context. But, through its interdependent life, every living thing contributes. Never trouble yourself about not contributing.
  • Your contribution to the outer world will always be insignificant. But there are vast inner worlds within you. Make a change where it matters - fulfill your inner world.
  • Still the turmoil in your mind and bring in calm common sense. This website suggests ways in which you can do just that.
  • A calm and helpful perspective will change the quality of life for every person, who touches your life.
  • Look within and find your niche - those patterns, which bring you joy.
  • Use mindfulness meditation to fill the uneventful moments of your life with intense attention to the small things you do.
  • Patiently wait for that opportunity in life, which you can capture and succeed. Even if you never fulfill that grand dream, you will still make life meaningful, because you lived life the way nature intended you to live.

Make Life Meaningful - A Purpose In Life Is Pivotal
To cope with her life, Angie needs a purpose. The human mind needs a purpose to live. The famed psychiatrist, Frankl, reported that the lack of such a purpose would effectively kill a person. He had lived through the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps to narrate the dreaded moment, when a fellow prisoner ceased to struggle for life. Usually, the prisoner refused to go out on to the parade grounds. 

“He just lay there, hardly moving. No entreaties, no blows, no threats had any effect. He simply gave up. There he remained, lying in his own excreta, and nothing bothered him any more.” Such people died soon thereafter. Frankl found that it was a purpose, which helped those who survived the deathly internment camps. The purpose could be to meet up with loved ones after the war. It could even be to just to survive till the end of the war. Deciding merely to survive is hardly the way to make life meaningful.

Make Life Meaningful - Skeptics Find No Comfort In Faith
Unfortunately, religion also does not offer a credible purpose in life to Angie. In the midst of earthly suffering, it is religion, which offers a compelling vision of a grand purpose. All things happen for the best. That omnipotent intention acts in the best of all possible worlds, for the well-being of all. If you suffer pain and distress, the beneficent deity has ordained it to steel humanity to ever greater triumphs. Genuine faith in a divine purpose aligns the believer with the creative flow of life and helps to make life meaningful. 

But, Angie does not believe that her suffering will meet a noble purpose. Why should misfortunes be needed for the betterment of humanity? Do famines and earthquakes benefit anybody? It stretches her credibility to believe that cruel mothers and confining rooms are beneficial. Lacking the support of a deeply held belief, she is convinced that there is no point to her life. But, Angie can make life meaningful by aligning herself with the purpose of life itself!

Make Life Meaningful - Life Has Gifted Angie A Purpose
The dictionary definition of “meaning” is “what is intended to be.” Consider the intention of life as it evolved. Science suggests that a unique assembly of molecules originated life on earth. As those early life forms kept multiplying, their internal intelligence adopted better and better tools for survival. The early brains supported survival of the fittest, ruthlessly eliminating the weak. 

But, as evolution reached the mammalian stages, these life systems recognized the need for group survival. Animals developed the emotions of joy, love and compassion to enable their herds to survive. Those emotions are at the root of advanced life. The desire to be happy and to contribute to humanity is the primary drive in the human mind. Angie does not need to discover a purpose. She has inherited one. That purpose can save her from her misery and bring her happiness. It can make life meaningful for her. But, she may feel discouraged about the trivial value of her own contributions.

Make Life Meaningful - Every Living Thing Contributes
When you live, you contribute. Contribution is not really about “making a difference” to the world. It is also about just living. Every living person participates. The consumer is as important as the producer. Industry cannot survive, unless people buy things. The electricity utility needs people, who switch on lights. Schools need children. When you consume, you contribute. When you read, you empower the writer. 

Even the Olympic winner's glory comes from the admiration of his fans. Neither are contributions over in just a few moments of glory. Paul Revere contributed as a craftsman in Boston long before his famous midnight ride, which helped America to win its war. Never trouble yourself about not contributing. It is an irrational anxiety. From the moment you are conceived, you contribute to life. But, those contributions are insignificant in the cosmos. Whatever your accomplishment, it will still be trivial in the long march of history.

Make Life Meaningful - Make Your Contribution Decisive
Since your contribution to the external world is trivial, make a difference to the vast worlds within your on mind. The massive power of our senses makes us see the external world from a distorted perspective. We feel important. But, when viewed from just 500 feet, we are merely like swarming ants. In our vast cities, the absence of one person's efforts will seldom be noticed. 

Even if you solve a huge problem, other issues will soon take its place, in an endless stream. Finally, in the vast reaches of cosmos, nothing we do matters. But, while we are mere specks in the outer world, we do sense endless worlds within our own minds. We are blessed with an infinity within us. We have the power to fill those vast reaches with joy. So, make a difference where it counts! As the pitiless outer world thunders on, add a new purpose to your life. Fill your inner world with joy, while contributing your mite to the outer world.

Make Life Meaningful - First Sill The Turmoil
Negative emotions dominate Angie. For her, peace of mind and joy will not be available off the shelf. She is actually a troubled spectator, watching the habitual thought patterns of her mind. Its inherited circuits apply animal instincts and her sad experiences to torture her. She communicated her despair to the vast internet. Like Angie, many of the great sages from the past were also consumed with despair. Their earnest searches discovered a method of reaching a calm mind, in a world of grinding misery.

The idea is simple. Never reason with your anger and despair. Still them from the outside by switching off those circuits through physical and mental exercises! The 
Mind Control Tips in this website suggest ways of accepting life as it comes and stilling negative emotions. Those steps can tune out the noisome turmoil. When equilibrium comes, Angie's common sense will take control and a quiet peace will surround her. She can do all this, without moving out of her room. But, mere words cannot convey to her the contentment of a tranquil mind, or the joy of exciting work. Her inner being has to visualize and desire those goals. Can you help Angie? Maybe not. But, when you see what is possible, you can at least act to make your own life meaningful.

Make Life Meaningful -  Common Sense To Lighten Your Life
A tranquil mind will transform Angie. She will see new opportunities in the internet. She will attend to the tiny little things, which distress her mother. Her helpful attitude will have an impact on her mother. We are built with “mirror neurons,” which sense the emotions of others and produce the same emotions in us. Anger triggers anger and a smile is rewarded with a smile. 

Angie's new composure is likely to bring calmer responses from her mother. If Angie's mother does not respond, it will only be because she suffers some deeper pain, which cannot easily be healed. A calm Angie will feel compassion for her mother's distress. She will let her sharp responses wash over her with impunity. An insult will be seen to be just “like a bird in the sky.” Angie will know that she needs to 
love and protect her mother. That love will also calm the troubled life of her mother. In the meanwhile, Angie can plan for her life, when she reaches 18.

Make Life Meaningful - Find Your Own Niche
Angie can seek to bring meaning to her life. But, meanings differ for different people. While one person finds joy in compassionate acts, another enjoys creating something new. One person loves history and another delights in relationships. So you have to find your niche. Look back on your life and recall those events which brought you a sense of fulfillment. Think of those things, which made you feel good.

Can you build a career around it? Can you do it as a hobby, in your spare time? If you can achieve that, you are set for life. When you apply your special skills, you will discover new challenges. Each victory will add to your confidence. Because, the things you love to do are usually also your areas of excellence. It will be easier for you to solve those problems than for others. Unfortunately, circumstances make it difficult for most people to find their own special niches.

Make Life Meaningful - Live Your Routine Life Fully
Even if Angie has stilled her mind, life will continue to be full of tedium. The modern world has softened the ancient struggle for survival. But, life is now filled with long periods of inactivity and much tedious and repetitive labor. Writing accounts, or waiting at a table does not require your full attention. If, as a result, your mind is left as a void, negative thoughts can come rushing back. 
Mindfulness exercises can fill that void. Decide to live your life more fully. Do everything you do with focused attention.

Attention is the process you use to learn anything new. Focused attention constantly adds sensory knowledge to any activity. Attentive execution will transform your routine tasks into works of art. Your whole being will be involved in the process and your mind will gather a world of insights about the movements of your muscles while eating, reading, or even dressing for work. You will slowly transform your life, bringing joy in the achievement of excellence in the simple aspects of your life.

Make Life Meaningful - A Meaningful Patience
Ultimately, patience is needed in life, while you wait to make that big contribution. Religions believe that each one of us was brought into the world for a purpose. But, what purpose does a child dying of malnutrition in Darfur achieve? The skeptic can only hope for an opportunity to make a significant contribution to life. Angie may, or may not meet her dream of success in fully applying her talents. That opportunity may also come late in life. 

Paul Revere did not make his contribution to America in his youth. Often, you may not even realize that you did make a major contribution. You may have lent a shoulder to lean on, or a given a valuable word of caution. Just being there for her mother, or her children may be Angie's major contribution to life. Nature endowed her with the emotions of joy and happiness as her reward for living a full life. Patiently reaching for that happiness will always make her life meaningful.


This page was last updated on 07-Jan-2016



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NEED MORE?

For my peace of mind, I earmarked 20 minutes for meditation on the terrace. With my eyes closed, I sense my hands on the chair and feel the numbness in my feet.

I feel my breath flowing through my nose, my throat, my chest and my stomach. I can hear the chirping of birds, the phut phut of auto rickshaws, the occasional roar of a truck and the insistent hooting of horns.

When I open my eyes, I see a pale moon over two hundred thousand miles away. I see the nuclear fires, blazing for millions of years in the pale globe of the setting sun. A star millions of miles away in space.

I can see green shoots coming up on a tree, watch the dives and swoops of birds, the great circles of the hawks and flocks of birds flying home for the night.

Diffused light from the sun reflects off a parrot on the tree and enters my eye through a pinhole opening. I sense the bustling mood of the bird, even though it is smaller than a drop of water in my eyes.

All these things are seen and felt by me in a few brief minutes. In the distance, is the head of a man seeming to be no bigger than a pea. Yet, that head too sees and feels such things. Ten million people in this great city see and feel in ten million ways.

My mind wanders to a misty view of postwar London; an exciting glimpse of Disneyland. An awed view of Tiananmen Square. The looming Himalayan ranges. My mind takes me to distant galaxies.

It carries me into the heart of millions of invisible neurons, where electrical charges flash thousands of times a second powering my contemplation. I see the campaigns of Julius Caesar and Alexander. I feel the longings of Jehangir.

Already my mind has taken me to palaces, battlefields and even the stars. And yet, the 20 minutes hang heavily on me. If I lost everything, but can just see and feel, in just a few brief minutes, my mind can travel the world, or imagine the cosmos.

Life has already blessed me with over twenty million waking minutes. I have an infinity of time on my hands. Have I a right to expect more from life?

COMMENT:
I really loved the self improvement plan post. Its great food for 
thought and the steps are actually actionable as compared to many other self help sites out there.
Joe Glen USA.

COMMENT:
As a clinical therapist, I have found your site very useful!
I love it. ...
Andrew Montgomery USA.