Author Topic: Living a more meaningful life  (Read 3740 times)

MgoSam

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Living a more meaningful life
« on: February 04, 2014, 10:42:40 AM »
Hey,

I realize that this is a very complex issue but I want to make more meaningful strides in the right direction. While I think I do a lot to live a meaningful life, I want to work harder at this and would love to hear your advice.

Right now I struggle with caring about things that I shouldn't care about. One such example is sports, aside from watching a game for entertainment I find myself actually feeling happy or sad if the team IO favor wins or loses. I find myself following recruiting for my alma mater's football and basketball team and actually caring what 17 and 18 year old's are saying on Twitter about my school, whereas in reality I should know better (I don't actually follow twitter, just see some of it reposted on a blog). While this can be a diversion and a way to relax, I am finding that it does me more harm than good and am thinking of avoiding sports cold turkey, do you think that would be helpful? Rationally I know that what my team does will not affect me directly and even any indirect impact will be minimal at best. I'm starting to realize that if I can't be a casual fan, then it would be better to not be a fan at all. What do you think?

Additionally, I am stopping watching TV or spending idle time on the computer. For this I am keeping my laptop in my bag whenever I don't need it for something useful. My time can likely be better spent on reading or other activities that provide a more meaningful utility. I want to find some additional things to do with my time and would love your input.

If anyone has any suggestions or encouragement please let me know.

tldr: Want to improve my life by avoiding things that don't help me and focus on things that do and would love your advice.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Living a more meaningful life
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2014, 11:17:03 AM »
I made the conscious decision to drop the last two sports I followed (football and MMA) last year and I've been so much happier since then.

Both cut into my limited free time way too much. Following any team sport means you spend the majority of your time angry/depressed, so what's the fun in that? Plus, I hate willingly exposing myself to advertising and the inane babble called sports commentary.

LWYRUP

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Re: Living a more meaningful life
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2014, 11:27:09 AM »
I think this is a great question, and it is a constant quest of mine (the Mustache efforts are really only a subset of my overall efforts in this direction).  The best advice I can give from my efforts is that at some point you need to turn thinking into daily action, as it seems you are doing.  Most people (or at least most people on this site already know we should spend less, drive less, exercise more, eat better, sleep more, spend more time with friends, read more, watch TV less, pick up hobbies, et cetera, the question is how to put that in action.  You can't appreciate nature by reading blog posts about how you should be appreciating nature (although they are OK in moderation), for example.  At some point you need to get up and take a walk.  Here are some things that I try to do (and often fail but keep trying again) that may be helpful:

-- Every day write five things I am grateful for.
-- Every day set daily priorities.
-- Every day bike to work.
-- Set a specific limit (time limit, page limit) on internet activites.
-- Got rid of cable and on-air TV (netflix and internet streaming with AdBlock only).
-- One cup of coffee a day; no soda; no caffeine after 4pm.
-- Every day get out of bed when the alarm goes off (no snoozing).
-- Follow a set bedtime route (unless special events intervene): no internet 1 hr before bed, no TV 30 minutes before bed, bed by 10:30 (I am married and have a young child, no reason you coudn't follow the same approach with a later deadline). 
-- Go to religious / spiritual services once a week (for me, church) and actively engage with philosophy / theology / religion to try to understand the big mysteries of life.

After a lot of reading and thinking, my primary conclusion is that the modern "mass media culture" is toxic in very many ways.  First, it is primarily designed to manipulate you into buying things you don't want.  Second, it causes people to engage in short term gratification (fun, relaxing show) to their long term detriment (huge time suck).  Third, it causes unwarranted jealousy / envy because the lifestyles that are portrayed are unreastic (as well as environmentally unsustainable) -- most TV is basically rich, attractive people in their 20s and 30s acting irresponsble and mean to each other.  Children are banished unless they advance the plot.  Elderly people disappear, except when they need to be mocked for their values.  Poor people quietly clean things in the background.  Fourth, things like professional sports and musicians are not bad in theory but in practice they crowd out space for amateur activities.  We used to be a nation of people that played sports in our fields and town squares.  Now we are a nation that grows obese as we watch others play sports in staggeringly expensive stadiums built on taxpayer money. 

Modern mass media is in my opinion a temple to all of the things people think will make them happy but will not.  Time spent consuming various forms of mass media (TV, corporate websites, glossy magazines, etc..) should be limited as much as reasonably possible.  Our culture has become so warped by it over time that to live a normal satisfying life you need to be countercultural (although perhaps not outwardly so).  If you simply follow the average American (or increasingly, average British, German, etc...) path it will be extremely difficult for you to create a meaningful life.
 
« Last Edit: February 04, 2014, 02:49:21 PM by blinx7 »

Cheddar Stacker

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Re: Living a more meaningful life
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2014, 11:54:51 AM »
Right now I struggle with caring about things that I shouldn't care about. One such example is sports, aside from watching a game for entertainment I find myself actually feeling happy or sad if the team IO favor wins or loses.

I have no good advice for you, but I fully understand this statement. I've always been a sports fan, not quite a fanatic, but really vested in local teams.

In October, while watching the Cardinals lose the first game of the World Series with a small crowd at my house, I had a brief moment where I did not like the person I had become during this 3 hour period. It was eye opening. I was very sharp responding to my wife a few times, which was followed by a very depressing and angry attitude for a few hours during/after the game. Once I realized what was pissing me off, I spent the rest of the World Series knowing it had absolutely no bearing on my life. It no longer matters to me if a team wins or loses, and I'm much less interested in even watching.

Good luck in your quest for meaning. I hope to do the same.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Living a more meaningful life
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2014, 11:56:28 AM »
Two things that have really helped me:

Circle of Control versus Circle of Concern (see: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/10/07/how-big-is-your-circle-of-control/ and the post on the Low Information Diet linked right at the beginning). This has done so much to improve my happiness.

David Cain's mantra: "right now, AT THIS MOMENT, what is the best thing for me to do?" Don't remember the URL, but that really stuck with me. It's important to plan for the future, but when future-focused, it's so much easier to procrastinate and kick things down the road. "Oh I worked hard today, I deserve an hour of TV" etc.

Victorious Secret

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Re: Living a more meaningful life
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2014, 10:39:30 AM »
Given that we humans are tribal and groupish by nature, I think following your alma mater's sports teams can be a great way to build relationships and memories.  As long as you approach it knowing that it's "just a game" for the purposes of fun competition, bonding and socializing, rather than a matter of life and death (like a lot of sports fans seem to think).  Following high schoolers on twitter, though, well that's another story...

ender

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Re: Living a more meaningful life
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2014, 11:13:59 AM »
blinx7 hits it on the head.

The only thing I'd add is spend some time thinking about your macro life priorities and goals to some extent. Most people don't have well defined life priorities and this means it's really hard to even have any comparison to "is this worth it to me" - you have to be able to check against something.

MgoSam

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Re: Living a more meaningful life
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2014, 11:42:07 AM »
I completely agree with everything that has been said. Right now I am going through somewhat of a slump but it is important for me to remember that this will only be temporary and that I must continue to do the right things and move in the right direction.

Instead of thinking about how I feel right now, I am trying to remind myself to think 6 months in the future. For instance, I want to drop my weight to a certain level. That isn't going to happen overnight, instead I have a goal in my head and my goal is to reach it by June 1st. I agree with what enderland said in that having the idea of "is this worth it to me," is a great way of doing things. When I want to do things like eat junk food, I have relied on remember my long-term goals as a way of avoiding it. Over time I am noticing that my food preferences are evolving and hopefully this will lead to in a more positive direction.