This is the third in a series, about how we need to seek challenges, and how those challenges bring meaning and fulfillment to our lives. In the first post we looked at the Unabomber and how he was driven by his belief that the hard goals – the difficult problems the world needed to solve – were already done. The only goals left were the easy ones and the impossible ones, thus no real meaning or fulfillment in life, no reason to continue.
My thesis is that you need stretch goals which are difficult to achieve, to live a life of meaning. And when you don’t have them, you live a life of existing and distractions.
Even more important though, than having those goals, is the thought process you need to go through to develop them...
Doing the process of setting those goals make you think about your future, and accept responsibility for your own life. You lead a more mindful and proactive life, which is conducive to creating meaning.
Organized religion has inadvertently led people away from the critical thinking necessary to create meaningful lives. Because not unlike the Unabomber, religion discourages the hard questions – the ones that require real introspection and analysis – and lead you to meaning.
Religion believes there are simple easy “truths,” and they program those truths into children at an early age. (An example would be the stories in Christianity around Jesus and the manger, the three wise men, etc.) Then there are the unknown, mysterious things that cannot be explained, because only god knows. (Why a quarter of a million people die in a tsunami, why kids get cancer, etc.) So we have the easy truths and the unknowable ones. Then things fall off a cliff.
Because all of what’s left is the doctrines and dogma, which must never be questioned if you’re a good Christian, Muslim, Jew, etc. Most of these doctrines and dogma are sky god superstitions from the Stone Age, requiring the person believing them to disengage their curiosity, critical thinking and rationality. Hardly a good formula to discover meaning.
What do you think?