Life becomes tough when one doesn’t see meaning in it. This is an issue that philosophers have grappled with for millennia: nihilism. Nihilism refers to many different beliefs, of which all aren’t hopeless or bad. However, here, nihilism refers to a belief that everything is meaningless or baseless. 

While people don’t commonly endorse the belief, they do feel it. A feeling of meaningless can quickly cripple our enthusiasm. Here are some ways to fend off nihilism and find meaning in your life.

Reflecting on What’s Important and Expressing It

The notion that all meaning is baseless is, ironically enough, based on a presumption: a meaning-based is out there. One response to this came from the existentialists, who, and this is a gross oversimplification, said we create our own meaning. In other words, all our meaning is based on our feelings, beliefs, etc., instead of something “out there.” 

You should focus on what qualities, experiences, and things matter to you and try to express them. For instance, if you admire your creativity or value it in others, take a moment to express it with something else you enjoy, such as writing or exercise.

Look for Purpose in the Ordinary

Another response to nihilism came from, unbeknownst to him at the time, Aristotle. A significant part of his philosophy focused on telos, the Greek word for “purpose.” Aristotle believed that everything in existence had a purpose or was designed to serve some function or end. Though you can contest the veracity of this position, it’s still instructive.

We often go through life without consciously recognizing the purpose behind our small acts. Whether you give charity, help your child with their homework, take your pet for a walk, or something else, they all have purposes. Recognizing that keeps your life filled with meaning.

Find Meaning in the Small

Meaning doesn’t have to stem from something grand or overly complex. This idea is perpetuated by multiple media that implicitly suggest grand things are the only things that are meaningful. Contrary to that presentation, meaning can from everywhere, even something as small as disposing of some trash on the road or eating something succulent. Try to accept that meaning can come from everywhere, and you’ll be happier and more fulfilled with life.

If you’re dealing with anxiety or depression, get in touch with me. My name is David E. Myers, and I’m a licensed anxiety and depression therapist. I provide my services in Birmingham, Gardendale, Hoover, Vestavia Hills, and Mountain Brook, AL. 

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