"Life is suffering"
The reason I like this is because it assumes that the default state of humans (and I'd say all living things) is suffering, pain, 💩, etc.
That might seem dark BUT it also cuts us (humans) some slack. 🤪
Culturally/societally/whatever --> in our generation we've been told "be happy". When you ask a parent what they want for their child, most will say something like "we just want them to be happy". Which is noble and good - who wouldn't want to be happy!
BUT what this cultural narrative does is it makes us assume that HAPPINESS is the default state. I.e. humans were meant to be happy.
And I think this is bad bc it makes people think that something is wrong with them IF they are NOT happy. 🙁
I find "life is suffering" liberating. By taking this different outlook, you can kind of be like "well, life is gonna be tough and things are going to go to shit! Might as well make the best out of it." It reminds me of the quote:
"Don't take life too seriously; because you're not making it out alive."
As an aside: Buddhists don't mean the same suffering when I say suffering. It doesn't translate well to what they mean. I will need to explain it sometime else.
Goal/purpose of life is to be happy.
I don't like when people say this and it's not because I think they are wrong BUT I think that most people have not thought for themselves what they want and so they just copy whatever everyone else is saying #MemeticTheory #CtrlC #CtrlV
I'm going to put some random unconnected thoughts below:
1. When you think about it, we are sort of just monkeys on a rock floating around in space (stole from Roger).
When you look at it like that point of view, the answer to "what's the purpose in life" is really = um there is no real purpose lol. We are just like pigeons or bears or whatever just hear on this rock floating around in space, trying to survive. We just happen to have consciousness.
2. Stole this from
As I mentioned, what I find frustrating is people just say "happiness" but they don't preface their answer with what type of happiness OR say that there are different types of happiness.
Most people say happiness and then I'll challenge them back and say, "well why don't we just go do meth and have orgies all day long?" With that, I'm referring to Springboard's definition of "momentary happiness".
If someone was to say to me "the purpose of life is happiness and by that I mean a deep seated sense of peace, equanimity, etc. Because you're at peace with where at." I would be much more willing to go along with that. But most people just shoot back "happiness".
3. I'm not sure if this is Nietchze or Viktor Frankl or Jordan Peterson :
Humans are meaning making machines. We need to have a WHY behind what we do. When the going gets tough, we need to know WHY we are doing what we are doing.
So if that's the case you could say the purpose of life is to strive to create meaning.
This might sound dark but like what keeps you from jumping off a bridge?
It's probably meaning you've created in your life. You love your family and _______________ (not sure what to add here). You want to continue these relationships. Maybe you love to learn and you want to learn more. Or, like me, you promised that you need to see the Leafs' win the Stanley Cup before you die. Talk about life being suffering being a Leafs' fan...
Happiness = Reality - Expectations. I.e. if you have very high expectations and reality is lower, you're going to be in the negative, i.e. sad. I totally buy that line of thinking.
What I like about having a "why" and "life is suffering"
I think these two concepts blend well together.
Life is suffering -- the going is going to get tough. Shit is going to hit the fan. 💩
BUT, if you have a deep-seated why (i.e. you have a why behind what you do OR have created some sort of meaning), you are able to transcend (or, at the very least, push through) life being suffering. 🤕
Think of a mom who has a baby. Having to deal with all the shit (metaphorically and literally) that comes along with a baby, it's probably not sunshine and rainbows for mom. Sleepless nights, bit nipples, no ability to rationally reason with the baby, etc.
But, mom's do it anyway because it is a meaning making device?__________________ (not sure what to add here) (this is why I find it funny when people say "the purpose of life is to be happy" lol bc like a little baby throwing a temper tantrum is probably not happiness for the mom. But there's something that transcends that and keeps moms persisting. There's something beyond the shit of every day life. I'm not sure an exact word(s) for it but hopefully you feel me).
This idea reminds me of Viktor Frankl and his observations going through the Holocaust. He said that generally speaking there were 2 groups of people: 1. people who wanted to go home, were hoping the war would end AND 2. people who realized they were in a very terrible situation AND made it their mission to make it through the Holocaust so they could tell their story. The former ended up dying off in droves, the latter survived (this is a HUGE generalization but hopefully you feel me)
Just find your passion.
Generally speaking, throughout my life I've been in the "find your passion" camp. You want to do something you love and enjoy doing. I used to always think about the quote "find something you love to do and you'll never work a day in your life." Also, Naval is actually a fan of doing what you enjoy for work -- "do what others think is work but you think is play."
Someone close to me used to say they weren't a huge fan of what they were working on but it seemed like a means to an end. As in, they would do this now so that they could launch a huge company and get rich AND THEN focus on what they want to actually do. This would be sort of like Naval's trading money for time. Work now, make a lot of money, and then spend your time doing whatever the fuck you want.
Well, I used to think this person was bonkers BC I was part of the passion camp. "How could you waste your life not really enjoying doing what you're doing I thought?"
When I read Cal Newport's "So Good They Can't Ignore You" in June 2019, I thought the guy was on crack.
Now fast forward to the last year and a half for me.
I would spend countless days in existential anxiety because I couldn't figure out "what I was meant to do with my life". I wanted to find my passion (or something like that). What that ended up doing though is, for me at least, created a lot of anxiety. "Is this my passion? Well it feels good, but maybe there's something better out there?" "Maybe this is my passion? Well it doesn't seem as good as teaching."
I think this is sort of like the "just be happy" thing. When we frame life as "just find your passion" you start to wonder if there's something wrong with you because you don't know what your passion is. And even if you do, there is still anxiety around "Is this my real passion?"
I don't know what changed for me but around June of this year I started to read about, focus more on finding and building RARE AND VALUABLE SKILLS. And then taking the Naval approach of trading those rare and valuable skills for money and trading that money for time (to do whatever the F you want). Some books / articles that probably shaped it were:
- So Good They Can't Ignore You
Now I sort of see where Cal and the crew is coming from. You don't want money. What you really want is time to do what you want. And, given the way our society is set up, you need to get money in order to do that.
It also made me wonder if we have the passion thing backwards. I'm assuming it's a bit both ways (you need to be into something to even start in the first place) but here's Tymo explaining it:
It's sort of a chicken or egg type problem. What comes first?
I think conventionally, people assume passion comes first and then you get really inspired and then you get really good at it.
But I think there's truth to what Tymo and others say. A lot of the time it's "you happen to get good at something", you get validation from others that you are good at that thing --> which makes you feel good --> so you do it more and then you get really good at it and it makes you feel good and then you sort of have your passion.
I think it's probably a blend of these two extremes. Obviously it's less likely you're going to do something in the first place IF you don't enjoy it or like it.
For me growing up, I didn't really like school until grade 7. But it was only then when I started to get validation from peers and teachers that "I was smart" that I started to be like, "Wow, it's cool doing these projects" and "It's fun getting the highest mark in the class." This was also helped by the fact that my grade 7 teacher had us do interesting projects that I found really cool and I could come up with creative solutions to.
Ultimately, I think that more #RESPECT needs to be given to the other side of the story we usually hear as a cultural narrative --> that maybe being good at something and getting the validation of that, well that makes it easier to become passionate about.
Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.
Written: October 25, 2020
- Gap Theory of Happiness