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Sooner or later we all face death. Will a sense of meaning help us?

Seeking meaning

Most Eastern philosophical traditions appreciate the importance of death-awareness for a well-lived life. The Buddha saw desire as the cause of all suffering and counseled not to get too attached to worldly pleasures but to focus on loving others, developing a calm mind, and staying in the present.

An awareness of our mortality can move us to seek and create the meaning we crave.

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Sooner or later we all face death. Will a sense of meaning help us?

Sooner or later we all face death. Will a sense of meaning help us?

https://aeon.co/ideas/sooner-or-later-we-all-face-death-will-a-sense-of-meaning-help-us

aeon.co

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Key Ideas

Valuing life

Death and disease are unavoidable aspects of life. However, in the West, we've developed a delusional denial of this. We pour billions into prolonging life, most employed in our final years, but fail to value life. The most regrets of the dying are cited as follows:

  • I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself.
  • I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
  • I wish I'd dared to express my feelings.
  • I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  • I wish I had let myself be happier.

A reminder to live

German philosopher Martin Heidegger concerned himself with the relationship between death-awareness and leading a fulfilling life. He argued that being aware of our own passing makes us desire to make our life worthwhile and give it meaning and value.

This awareness that we are going to die is important because it reminds us to live our life to the full every day and avoid experiencing unnecessary regret.

Seeking meaning

Most Eastern philosophical traditions appreciate the importance of death-awareness for a well-lived life. The Buddha saw desire as the cause of all suffering and counseled not to get too attached to worldly pleasures but to focus on loving others, developing a calm mind, and staying in the present.

An awareness of our mortality can move us to seek and create the meaning we crave.

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Time Is The Most Precious Resource

Time is the most precious resource. Death gives a sense of urgency, as any moment could be your last. It humbles you and should also deeply motivate you to not spend your time thoughtlessly.

Emotions Come From Within

Outside forces don’t make us feel things, our perceptions of them do. It’s easy to think otherwise, but doing so harms us and undermines our self-discipline.

The next time you run into an obstacle and feel resistance, don’t look at what’s around you. Instead, look within.

The People You Respect

Whatever you do, there are individuals that you can learn from. If you can’t talk to them, you can study their story, works, techniques, successes, and failures, and discover patterns of success you can apply to your life.

Be careful not to turn it into an exercise of comparison and expect your progress to be the same as theirs. Their teachings and principles are supposed to help you grow, learn, and create. 

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Jordan Peterson

"You’re not as nice as you think. And you’re not as useless as you think"

Jordan Peterson
The Aim of Living
Psychology Professor Jordan Peterson's self-help book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos provides some out-of-the-box ways of living life, borrowing from the works of Nietzsche, Freud, Jung, and Dostoevsky, which are unconventional sources for this kind of work.
Life as a Tragedy
Jordan Peterson’s view of the world around him is complex, and he tries to simplify this with books.
  • We are just a speck in this huge, complex world, inviting us to be humble. 
  • Happiness, he says, is a pointless goal,
  • Only compare yourself with your yesterday, not with others.

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Face and Embrace Your Impermanence

Make room in this season to turn inward and become still.

Are you overcoming your fears and go after your dreams? When we can acknowledge your impermanence without letting feelings tak...

Face and Embrace Your Inner Demons

Try to identify areas in your life that make you feel all rigid inside, ashamed, judgmental or angry. Under rigidities is where your inner demons hide and when you look them straight in the eye, they tend to disappear.