I’ve been there. I get it. I’ve been at the point where I ask myself “Why does life feel so pointless?” over and over again. It’s a terrible place to be in. You feel like the only thing that is waiting for you in the future is more of the same inane, boring drudgery, caught in an ever-repeating loop which only ends once you’re dead and buried.
I’ve asked myself “What’s the point of it all?” I still do, sometimes.
How can we find meaning in this seemingly absurd existence?
There actually is an answer to your question. But I can’t give it to you. I can, however, tell you how I arrived at my answer.
When Life Started Feeling Pointless For Me
As a child, I found meaning in playing video games. I loved playing them, I could spend whole weekends playing a single video game without tiring of it. And since I always had access to video games, I never questioned the meaning of my life. I was happy as a clam, blessed in my ignorance.
Then as a teenager and young adult I went to college. I made great friends, got in shape, had a girlfriend and I did well in school. I believed I was setting myself up for a memorable, meaningful life.
My life began feeling pointless around the age of 25. I needn’t go into the details here. You can read more on that in this article, if you’re curious. I began settling into a self-destructive routine. This continued for around 2 years, during which I wondered if this was it for me. If this was all I could expect from life; a series of identical days until I finally kicked the bucket.
Then heartbreak unexpectedly came along and threw a wrench into the treadmill of similarity I was walking on. It blew everything apart. And I found myself, for the first time, questioning the meaning of my choices.
That was when I began searching. I didn’t know what I was searching for. I just knew I was searching for something. Something to end the pointlessness of everything.
I was searching for meaning.
What Happened During My Search
I truly believe that life gives us exactly what we need to experience when we need to so that we may grow into the best versions of ourselves. The universe is the pinnacle of elegant complexity. There is no way it can be any different.
In this way, the meaninglessness I experienced in my mid twenties (and which you may be experiencing as you read this article) was exactly what I needed to live through so that I could dig deep and reach for my best self.
I can write that now in hindsight, of course. If someone had told me that back then that the meaninglessness I was going through was for my betterment I would have punched them in the face.
But life doesn’t come with meaning. We give life meaning. Meaning comes from us.
So the question “What is the meaning of life” is backwards. The valuable question, the question that unlocks the gates of our perception, is “What meaning do I give life?”
Once we understand that we give life meaning, everything changes.
When I say “understand” I mean “understand as clearly as night follows day.” You understand it, overstand it and innerstand it. It’s so clear to you that you feel it, down your core. You take it as a given. Like the fact that you need to breathe to live.
No one can give that understanding to us. Just like no one can teach us how to walk. As babies we have to fall over and over before we can finally walk. It’s something we have to learn for our own.
But while I can’t give you the understanding, I can tell you how I came to understand.
How I Came To Understand That We Give Life Meaning
I now understand that the meaningless I was experiencing in my mid-twenties was my doing. That was the meaning I was giving life; meaninglessness.
If you believe life is pointless it’s because you are making it pointless.
Does this sound like a contradiction? Is it confusing? The mind has trouble holding conflicting ideas such as that one. It’s part of the mind’s requirement to operate; the mind needs cause and effect in order to function; without cause and effect it can’t predict.
What I’m trying to say here is that using the mind to understand that it’s us who give meaning to life is impossible.
The way I came to understand that was by letting go of the mind.
What Do I Mean By “Letting Go Of The Mind”?
I mean stepping out of your thoughts. I mean existing in the present moment and accepting the moment as it is, as if you have chosen it. That’s where you make meaning. If you’re trying to understand what I’m saying with the mind then you are again falling into the cycle of cause and effect.
You are again engaging the mind.
Western philosophers will argue and intellectualize and overcomplicate things. They’ll say life is meaningless or we find meaning here or there. Western philosophy is one major intellectual exercise. It’s all of the mind. A good way to pass the time, but a tough way to find meaning.
But like I’ve said, your true meaning exists beyond the intellect. You cannot intellectualize your meaning. Your intellect is, by it’s very nature, limited by experience. And your Being is limitless. You can only be your meaning.
The moment I stepped out of my mind was the moment I began appreciating the meaning of my life.
There’s a test to determine whether or not you can step out of your mind.
Can You Choose To Stop thinking?
That question makes it seem like you have to force your mind to do something, which is not the case. A more accurate question is; Can you watch your thoughts come and go without grabbing on to them?
Answering “no” means the mind is your master. If your answer is “no”, don’t sweat it. Almost everyone answers no. A few years ago I would have answered “no” as well.
But through steady practice I became capable of watching my thoughts come and go without becoming attached to them. The thoughts came and went, like clouds making their way across the sky.
Like clouds, our thoughts can get in the way of the sun which is our being (and meaning). The more we hold on to the clouds the more they cover the sun. Sometimes our internal clouds can amass and create storms!
But when we allow the clouds to come and go, we can remain at peace in the knowledge that just because the sun is covered now, it doesn’t mean it’s gone for ever.
And the more we let go of the clouds (thoughts), the fewer there are to cover the sun.
Until All That’s Left Is The Radiant Light
Eventually I became capable of stopping thought. I can quite literally make my mind blank. Sometimes for several minutes in a row. Again, if you’re trying to think about how that would be, you’re already putting more clouds in front of the sun. It’s self-defeating.
where thought ceases.
We can’t force our minds to do this. We can only guide them there. That’s where the process of meditation comes in.
So I’ll state it flat-out: Meditation allowed me to understand that I make the meaning in my life.
That’s all there was too it.
Meditation Allows Us To Be In Meaning
I have written several articles which focus meditation and/or the transcendence of thought. You can read them, if you want:
- What Is The Science Of Meditation? – Systematic Training Of Attention
- The Power Of The Moment – Be Here, Now
- The Treasure Of Time – Why Peace Creates More Peace
This website is called Explode Your Wealth, because I want to show people what they can do today to start living lives wealthy in peace, joy, love and money.
I believe that purifying the mind through meditation is the most valuable activity anyone can undertake today. We don’t realize it, but being caught up in our minds produces great suffering for us (called dukkha in Buddhism). It’s a suffering nothing from the outside can soothe. And we’re so habituated to it, while being totally unaware of it, that we keep repeating the same patterns over and over again, expecting them to give us different results.
When all we get from following them is suffering.
Some people reach a point where the suffering becomes so great they can’t take it anymore and they undergo a spontaneous transcendence of the mind. That’s a rare occurrence.
Most people who transcend the mind are like me. We suffer so much that we reach the point where we choose for ourselves to escape suffering. We then embark on a quest for answers and come to find them within themselves.
I Found My Answers Through Meditation
I’ve been meditating for a little over three years now. My meditation practice is fundamental to my happiness, peace of mind and meaning. I estimate that by now I’ve meditated around 1,500 hours. I didn’t start off with transcending the mind. Like everyone, I started off wrangling with my thoughts, identifying with them and holding on to them as they blocked the sun.
But gradually, with time and persistence, I began to let go of the clouds.
There is always work to be done, of course. But today I am so glad and grateful for the choice I made 3 years ago to start purifying my mind.
I can now exist in the sunlight, at peace with what is. Not all the time, of course! I still hold on to clouds, very often. But I now know that the sun is always shining behind them, no matter how thick they become.
What’s The Meaning Of Your Life?
I hope this article has inspired you to work on purifying your mind. I speak from the heart when I say that it’s the most valuable task any of us can undertake these days.
When we get the inside right, the outside falls into place. It takes time and effort, but it really is that simple. But most of us don’t ever learn about the power we have to craft our own meaning, and so we live on ignorantly making choices which create suffering for us.
Degrees, fancy titles and possessions cannot give us the peace which comes from letting go of the mind. They are all poor replacements, and no matter how many of them we accrue, we will never find satisfaction in them. This doesn’t make these things bad. But finding meaning in collecting things is bound to create suffering. Because things come and go, and when we’re attached to them, we suffer when they go.
Like those of us who become attached to our youth, beauty, money or fame and then suffer when it goes away. And it will, because everything that has a beginning has an end. Being at peace means being alright with that.
What I do is work towards what I want (financial freedom through service), while remaining at peace with what is. I engage my desire, I allow it to direct my energies, while also taking time to be happy in the moment.
In my humble experience, this balance has allowed me to craft deep meaning in my life, while allowing me to work for a better future for myself and those I love.
And what more can we ask for in life?
To our wealth and success.