The bad news is, each day bombards us with more threats to our sense of meaningfulness, more reasons to lose all faith in humanity, more stories that grip our hearts with painful feelings of shame and hopelessness, and more reminders of the universe’s sheer indifference to our plight.
But the good news is, each day is also an opportunity to prove to ourselves that meaning is made, not found.
No matter how many grim headlines we are assaulted by, meaning is and always will be the world’s finest renewable resource, of which we are the sole arbiters. And if we can teach ourselves to intentionally frame everything we do as a vehicle to create meaning for us, then the slings and arrows of ordinary misery won’t stand a chance.
Epictetus, a slave turned philosopher, wrote that nothing lies completely in our power except our judgments, desires and goals. He said that misery was a choice and not an inevitable condition. And that if we divide our life into two different categories, the externals we can’t control, and the choices we can make in response to them, then we have a useful filter for experiencing the world.
Epictetus figured out hundreds of years ago that meaning is not something outside ourselves we to search for. It is not something we either have or don’t have.
We are the source of it. We can make as much of it as we want. We can become confident contributors to every situation we encounter.
And it all begins by asking ourselves if what’s happening is an uncontrollable external, or an intentional choice.
Start there and meaning will be close behind.
No matter what headlines you may read.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you treating every adversity as the stimulus to live well, or another goddamn reason to be disappointed and frustrated?
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