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What do I want out of Life… May 5, 2009

Posted by dmb677 in Uncategorized.
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Most of the time I run around so quickly from distraction to distraction, I am at work, then I come home and turn on the television, or cook something to eat, or I worry about something I forgot to do, or something that I want to get done.

Seldom do I sit down and think, “Am I living the life that I want to live?” It is such a difficult and usually disappointing question. That is probably the reason it is so easy to find something to distract me from thinking about it.

But really what question is more important?

With my relentlessly hypercritical mind, I think just because on the surface I might want something does that mean that I should actually strive to obtain it? The root of the desire is probably from some deep biological impulse forged from millenia of evolution, or perhaps it is just social conditioning. And if this is the case, what nobility is there in striving for some desire that was in a sense forced on me anyway.

Then I think about evolution itself, the incredible complex process that forged this beautiful thing we call life. It didn’t have any goals, it wasn’t trying to “create” humans. Molecules just did what molecules do, and what do you know a few billion years later here I am, thinking, and typing, and blogging. 

So if the most creative power I know of in the universe can function without goals and desires, why should I be so attached to having and obtaining my goals?

Even as I write that last sentence though, I know it isn’t right. I have spent days in bed before lying on a pile of dirty laundry because I was too lazy to get up and pick up my room, and I don’t need to tell you that I felt like crap. That isn’t right. That is no way to live.

It appears anyway, that just living a life of doing “whatever I want, whenever I want” doesn’t hold the same satisfaction of working towards a goal, and trying to live a fulfilling life. 

Then it must be fulfillment, I should try to live a life full of fulfillment. But that is just playing with words, what is fulfillment anyway, and how do I get it?

So I started reading up on psychology a little bit, and as people have been interviewed the ones that are the most happy are the ones that have the following things in their lives:

1. Relationships. We need close intimate relationships, and we need even broader ones. We need to feel like we are part of a group, part of something bigger. Maybe even something divine. This “need” must have evolved as our ancestors stood huddled in cold lonely corners of the African savannas and the ones that learned to rely on eachother stood a better chance of survival.

2. Work. We have to feel engaged. I read the book “Flow” by Mihay Csikszentmihayli. They did a study where they placed beepers on people. These beepers would go off randomly, sometimes when the person was at work, and sometimes when they were at home. The point was that the person wouldn’t know when it would go off, but the instant it did they were supposed to write down what they were doing and how fulfilled they felt at the moment. The strange part was that people, although they said that they wanted to be home more often, were actually more fulfilled at work. The book argues that this is because people usually just sit and watch TV, or do something else that doesn’t challenge and engage them. He wasn’t necesarily saying that people need to work more, but at least they should choose leasure activities that are more challenging.

I think both of these things, must be vitally important, written deeply into our DNA. I think they open up a hole lot of more questions?

Like who and what types of relationships should I have? What type of work and play should I be involved in to make sure I am feeling sufficiently engaged? Maybe these are too individual of questions and cannot be generalized, but at the least I think they provide the framework for a more fulfilled life.

Then, once you decide how you want to live, you have to figure out how to get from where you are to where you want to be. Maybe that question is even more difficult that the original one.

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