Should You Take Time to “Relax” Your Meaning of Life?

Meanings are an important part of living life well. What’s necessary is that, from time to time, you should be able to temporarily “relax” your meanings in life. 

These meaningness relaxations may be related to specific situations (i.e. how you think about your future career) or it could be more global (i.e. should you find meaning in ambition at all?).

The new meanings you get to may not be any better but they may help you see around obstacles that keep you from living a good life.

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Can Life Have Too Much Meaning? | Scott H Young

scotthyoung.com

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What Meaning Means

Meaning can be a feeling. When a person, thing, goal or idea feels significant to us, and when those same things feel ordinary. The difference is meaning.

Meaning is also an idea. A definition of something. When someone asks you what something means, they’re asking for you to explain it in words. 

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How Can You Have Too Much Meaning?

There's two ways- 

  1. You could feel too strongly about the significance of something which could result in anxiety and fears because of its importance to you. Like a relationship or a job that meant everything to you until it ended. The feeling of significance therefore will be useful in some contexts and harmful in others. 
  2. This is related to the intellectual idea of meaning. If you have a strong set of ideas about what something means, it can prevent you from seeing it in different perspectives which might be necessary to solve certain problems.

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How To Tell If You Have Too Much Meaning?

In politics or in your personal life, you may feel powerless, or there may be situations which are not in your control but you would still get anxious and wouldn't be able to stop thinking about it. This shows an excess in meaning because if you genuinely didn’t feel the situation was significant you wouldn’t worry about it. 

In the intellectual context, if your ideas and reasoning of the world is rigid you will get stuck when you encounter situations that fail to make sense for you.

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Is Mindfulness the Relaxation of Meaning?

Mindfulness, particularly the body-scanning methods popular among Vipassana retreats, are effectively, a way of reducing the emotional and intellectual excesses of meaning. 

By repetitive attention something that would be processed at a level of meaning dissolves into parts that lack that meaning and you start experiencing something that seems to lack connection to the meanings you had previously.

However, this may be a consequence of the thorough de-meaning-ization of your regular experience. 

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More meaning tends to be better. A complete absence of meaning usually feels awful. Similarly, a lack of meaning in the conceptual sense is confusion and ignorance. We’d prefer to say what things mean and believe it, than to simply shrug our shoulders and say, “I don’t know."

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Rigid Vs Malleable: Exploring the Ability to Change Ourselves

How much we can change ourselves can be explored by looking at the extremes.

  • At one extreme (Rigidland ), our nature is fixed and unchanging. No amount of effort or experience will change your intelligence, personality, and talents. Change is only possible in superficial ways, such as your knowledge and highly-specific skills.
  • At the other extreme ( Malleabiliverse), everything can be moulded, not just things like acquired skills and knowledge, but whether you're an introvert, how clever you are, or what music you like.

We live in neither of these realities. Obviously, we are not completely rigid nor entirely malleable. If our nature is fixed, self-discovery is essential. If our nature is malleable, self-improvement is needed.

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The Meaning Of Meaning

The meaning of life generally means the relevance, significance or value of the same.

The quest for meaning is not a simple one, but a rabbit’s hole of further queries, making the concept of ‘meaning’ confusing even for positive psychologists.

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On the Meaning of Meaning: What Are We Really Looking For?

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Too Much Meditation

The standard advice provided by a lot of people is to "meditate" when experiencing intense feelings such as rage or sadness. It does work, however, a study suggests that too much meditation can do more harm than good, such as:

  • Numbness in emotions;
  • Fully induced panic attacks;
  • Feelings of dissociation; and even
  • Insomnia

There is a threshold when it comes to meditating and we should not cross the boundary to avoid further injuries to ourselves.

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How too much mindfulness can spike anxiety

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