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What makes life worth living?

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I fully accept what Objectivism says on how to live and be happy, but never in my life have I honestly been able to say "It's great to be alive; I love life." I find it hard to significantly value life, probably because I've never been able to justify life as being worthwhile. I like dedicating myself to certain people and activities, but it's a minimal amount of them that I enjoy - I don't want it to be a minimal amount; I can't find more. So I don't think the problem is my philosophical values. I think it's either this world (not providing enough things to potentially stimulate me) or it's me (not finding those potentials or having a personality that doesn't impress easily).

The more new experiences I try that fail to stimulate me, the more apathetic I become towards life and it lowers my optimism for the potential. I hate being bored all the time, but I'm running out of things to try; I'm struggling to figure out any other methods to help me uncover the worthwhileness of life.

I would like to know who can honestly say that most of the time they love being alive. What are you doing or experiencing that makes you feel this way? My life experiences make me come to the conclusion that most other people I'm regularly around feel similar to me. They are disinterested with their job and their personal lives consist of only occassional bright spots; a lot of it purposely avoiding consciousness.

I haven't given up yet. I would like to know how to make my life worthwhile.

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I find myself in a life enjoying mood most of the time when I'm being productive. Granted, it isn't some intense adrenaline spike but it is a passive life is good and I'm happy with things sort of feeling. Along with this feeling I try to keep the positive spikes high and the negative spikes low.

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I fully accept what Objectivism says on how to live and be happy, but never in my life have I honestly been able to say "It's great to be alive; I love life." I find it hard to significantly value life, probably because I've never been able to justify life as being worthwhile. I like dedicating myself to certain people and activities, but it's a minimal amount of them that I enjoy - I don't want it to be a minimal amount; I can't find more. So I don't think the problem is my philosophical values. I think it's either this world (not providing enough things to potentially stimulate me) or it's me (not finding those potentials or having a personality that doesn't impress easily).

The more new experiences I try that fail to stimulate me, the more apathetic I become towards life and it lowers my optimism for the potential. I hate being bored all the time, but I'm running out of things to try; I'm struggling to figure out any other methods to help me uncover the worthwhileness of life.

I would like to know who can honestly say that most of the time they love being alive. What are you doing or experiencing that makes you feel this way? My life experiences make me come to the conclusion that most other people I'm regularly around feel similar to me. They are disinterested with their job and their personal lives consist of only occassional bright spots; a lot of it purposely avoiding consciousness.

I haven't given up yet. I would like to know how to make my life worthwhile.

1)From my experience, self growth (practicing the virtues) is the best way to enjoy life. Being virtous will not make you happy, so don't go in expecting that, but it will give you the ability to be and the ability to be, for lack of a better term, serene. Peikoff called this "Benevolent Universe Conviction".

In concrete terms, I suggest picking a goal that you always dismissed that you couldn't do, and actually look at it and see if you can, then continually work towards it, make sure it is a long term goal. I don't know how far you are in your education or career, but don't undercut yourself with irrational doubt. If you want to be a doctor, don't say you can't handle the math, you can handle the math if you work at it, and even if you really can't handle being a doctor, there are lots of similar things that you could do.

As a disclaimer however, choosing these goals is extremely complicated.

I said all of these things because you were talking about your routine. Hobbies, pleasures, activities, etc. I don't think it is a good idea to think you can find the perfect routine that is separate from any long term goal. I have a lot of things that are physically and intellectually pleasurable, but I will feel stagnant if I do not know where I am going with my life.

2) There are other things that can be interfering with your ability to enjoy life. Don't rule out your diet and exercise habits, or the kinds of medication you are taking. Eating sugar all the time, taking the wrong pill, and not moving around enough will make you miserable no matter how rational you are.

3) You might also actually need to find new friends and hobbies.

One thing I have discovered is that I tend to be unimpressed or fearful of new things. I don't know if this is common or just me, but I will often look at something new and be very pessimistic about how good the thing is. When I finally try it I feel very silly for thinking that at all.

So yeah, be adventurous.

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After reading the other responses here, I had an idea. It seems that your error is that you don't yet have an hierarchical over-view of your life. Life is composed of the large and the small, the short-range and the long-range, the important and the lesser. All of those, however, can be, and ought to be integrated into your chief purpose.

They are integrated in a means-end hierarchy that forms one unit of who you are and all that you do. It is from their position in this hierarchy that so many minor things in life are experienced as worth-while and rewarding. They are the means to significant ends, you see?

Of course, it takes purpose and planning to get your life arranged in this way, it doesn't happen on its own. My 16-year-old daughter doesn't look to the future with excitement and confidence. She doesn't yet know what she wants to do or be, yet she feels pressure to know that. I tell her her job now is to explore everything, both explore herself, as in what human beings are, what powers they can have, what men may achieve, and how that happens, and to explore the worlds of nature and society, to see what the fundamental rules of each are, to see where they are good, and poor, and dangerous. To notice specifics of how the good parts come to be, and how the bad parts do, and how those might be changed.

In exploring all of this, one naturally finds their own likes and dislikes, preferences, etc. One learns to be a-theistic in the sense of seeing that most of human life involves the man-made, and what is man-made may be equaled or changed. It shows that things are not writ in stone, that corporations and governments and beliefs and mores are not just there, and immutable, but optional. It turns out, by the way, that a good deal of this requires psychological explanations, why people can be terrorists, why people like Obama want to control others, why there is so much intimidation, and, especially, why people fail to grasp the obvious.

Perhaps some of that process would work for you. The quote on OO's front page, about the lonely individual's achievement, about don't let your spark go out, is perhaps a good summary of the overall understanding of the world, people, self, and life which this process is intended to make possible. It is a sense of life and a comfort with one's own identity, a confidence in being the creature man is, and security about being in the world as it is. It is a realization of man's potential that bequeaths that 'bring-it-on' attitude of heroes.

So, the symptom that you don't have your life "in hand" in this way would be just the zig-zag, linear or cyclical progression of separate events such as you describe. When you have an over-arching goal and purpose, everything relates to it as means-to-an-end, including rest and relaxation, etc. and that relationship gives each such thing value you can experience (and enjoy.)

Mindy

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In concrete terms, I suggest picking a goal that you always dismissed that you couldn't do, and actually look at it and see if you can, then continually work towards it, make sure it is a long term goal.

That's what I would like. I have never been able to think of something that peaks my interest enough though. I'm 25 and I'm getting impatient.

My 16-year-old daughter doesn't look to the future with excitement and confidence. She doesn't yet know what she wants to do or be, yet she feels pressure to know that. I tell her her job now is to explore everything, both explore herself, as in what human beings are, what powers they can have, what men may achieve, and how that happens, and to explore the worlds of nature and society, to see what the fundamental rules of each are, to see where they are good, and poor, and dangerous. To notice specifics of how the good parts come to be, and how the bad parts do, and how those might be changed.

It looks like I'm in the same position as your daughter. I follow your advice already: gaining new experiences, trying to find things that interest me. I find a lot of things that I'm somewhat into, but it's so hard to find just one that I love and would consider making it my life. Maybe one day I'll figure it out.

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It looks like I'm in the same position as your daughter. I follow your advice already: gaining new experiences, trying to find things that interest me. I find a lot of things that I'm somewhat into, but it's so hard to find just one that I love and would consider making it my life. Maybe one day I'll figure it out.

My impression, admittedly made on minimal grounds, is that you live passively. You look for the world to attract you, perhaps to entertain you. Going out on a limb, I will say I suspect what you haven't "found" is yourself. Life is active. The rewards of living are rewards of one's actions.

What are you good at? Do you not get a thrill from that success? When things go wrong, don't you hate that? Do you not feel resolve to take control of things so that you succeed and enjoy, rather than fail and suffer? If the things other people do are only mildly interesting, can you invent or devise a course that's better, much better, superb?

Regarding life, you have to make it happen.

Mindy

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As trite as this sounds, I think what you need is a broader perspective to give you an appreciation for those things you have now that you take for granted. While you look for "stimulation", many, many others struggle merely for sustenance. Consider what these souls would think of your "predicament" and how many would gladly relieve you of it by trading places with you.

This world can and, if you're not vigilant, will provide you with far more "stimulation" than you imagine. Be careful what you ask for.

Edited by Alfred Centauri
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I would ask, what would make life not worth living? For me, I can't think of many realistic scenario where I would choose death.

Simply, I would rather suffer consciously, than be unconscious. Every day of life is a gift, allowing me another day to experience new things in this world we live in.

Everyone is presented with a road to choose, and the beauty of life is that you have the power to choose which one to take. Given the choices in life, I always want to take the road that will provide me with the most personal growth. To make higher ground in my journey, I need to become stronger, smarter, and wiser. I must keep pushing for higher ground to avoid stagnation.

There is no salvation I'm seeking in any particular goal I set, but given my abilities, I have no option but to try my best - otherwise there is no point in trying. There is always room for improvement.

I'm not exactly sure of the destination of where I'm going, but that is always secondary to the journey at hand. While there is joy to be found in material things, I recognize that they are all temporary, and never enough to satisfy me.

Like everyone one, I sometimes struggle to make sense of my own life - but these are the values I strive to live by. It is what make most sense to me.

Edited by catalyst
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  • 5 weeks later...

I fully accept what Objectivism says on how to live and be happy, but never in my life have I honestly been able to say "It's great to be alive; I love life." I find it hard to significantly value life, probably because I've never been able to justify life as being worthwhile. I like dedicating myself to certain people and activities, but it's a minimal amount of them that I enjoy - I don't want it to be a minimal amount; I can't find more. So I don't think the problem is my philosophical values. I think it's either this world (not providing enough things to potentially stimulate me) or it's me (not finding those potentials or having a personality that doesn't impress easily).

The more new experiences I try that fail to stimulate me, the more apathetic I become towards life and it lowers my optimism for the potential. I hate being bored all the time, but I'm running out of things to try; I'm struggling to figure out any other methods to help me uncover the worthwhileness of life.

I would like to know who can honestly say that most of the time they love being alive. What are you doing or experiencing that makes you feel this way? My life experiences make me come to the conclusion that most other people I'm regularly around feel similar to me. They are disinterested with their job and their personal lives consist of only occasional bright spots; a lot of it purposely avoiding consciousness.

I haven't given up yet. I would like to know how to make my life worthwhile.

Well, the first thing that I recommend is for you to select a primary productive purpose. That is, choose a career that you love and aim to achieve it. This will enhance your self esteem, and actually make you happy; it has in my case.

I have found difficulties whilst pursuing my chosen career, but the major benefit is the fact that it has give my life a direction. That is I no longer feel that I have been cast adrift in the world.

The second thing is to take long breaks from the media especially the news, which portrays a negative view of life. I usually read my news online, but it sparse quantities. I don't need to watch it; the world will still be here tomorrow whether I watch it or not. This way you begin to pay attention to how you feel more.

Although my life is far from perfect. The fact that I haven't given up in the face of often overwhelming adversity, has endowed me with a certain level of maturity and pride.

All the best.

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Is the universe to you as something unintelligible? Do you experience fear from things around you that you don't understand? I think there are two things required to make a person feels happy, the confidence of his control over his own destiny, and the achievement due to his intellectual effort. Those two must coexist in any man, the achievement depend on man's power to control his life, and the kind of power to control one's life comes from his achievement.

I don't know what you mean by "stimulate", entertainment or hobby? Truth is, there are lots human activity that people mistakenly regard as "enjoying life". For example: drinking in the bar, or having some meaning less party with bunch people hanging around doing nothing, the list goes on... Human beings are not animals, they don't enjoy their life by sensory stimulation alone. Human happiness require an activity of his mind, he will not be satisfied by the physical pleasure of his body, that is a necessary but insufficient condition. Many things that labeled as "have a life" are ways to let people ditch their mind by utilizing material comfort, they run away form effort of thinking or real life problems by temperately reduce their stature to the animal level.

I agree with Dynamite's opinion, do something productive, something that you felt passionate. The effort you have done with a career will give you the self-esteem you are looking for, and reinforce your ability manage your life. I am not a native English speaker, so, welcome to catch syntax, grammar, and argument errors.

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  • 1 month later...

So far, I have found at least four things to live for.

1. Pleasure - This is the most basic physical pleasure that you can get from your five senses. Some examples include sight: looking at a beautiful painting, hearing: listening to music, taste: eating desert, smell: smelling aromas, and touch: feeling stimulation or anything good. If I were to stop here at pleasure, as some do, that would be hedonism.

2. Knowledge - Discovering interesting and relevant truths about the universe is always satisfying and a great reason to live.

3. Achievement - There is reason to suffer a great deal of suffering for achievements. Someone climbing Mount Everest might suffer from the cold and exposure, but it's all worth it in the end.

4. Relationships - Having a deep, meaningful relationship with others is important, especially because humans are social creatures. Make sure, however, not to sacrifice your other 3 values for someone else.

Now, just fill in the specifics for each of the 4. If anyone has any general things to add to the list, I'd love to hear it.

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I would like to know who can honestly say that most of the time they love being alive. What are you doing or experiencing that makes you feel this way? My life experiences make me come to the conclusion that most other people I'm regularly around feel similar to me. They are disinterested with their job and their personal lives consist of only occassional bright spots; a lot of it purposely avoiding consciousness.

I haven't given up yet. I would like to know how to make my life worthwhile.

I don't think that anyone else here has said this, but the answer is simply "Life itself makes life worth living". To ask for any reason for living beyond life itself is self-defeating. Anything we might cite to you as a value will rely on your life as the standard that makes it good. Simply repeating certain actions won't make life worth living for you until you've accepted the precondition that makes it possible. Once you accept the choice of living a clearer hierarchy of values will begin to emerge as you evaluate certain facts/actions/things as good or bad for your life.

Edited by Sir Andrew
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Progressiveman,

Quit your job tomorrow and start your own business. Or you can be a chicken and stay in your boring job.

I submit to you that you CHOOSE to be bored and will always pick the safe option and then moan about it being boring!

If you have the guts for it, you can choose to make your life exciting.

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First, realize that at 25 you are still maturing philosophically (my sense is that most men don't fully mature until at least 35 if not 40 years old). At some point, if you are reasonably successful at living, you will find your confidence reaches a plateau which it never again falls below, even if circumstances get dire. This seems to me related to Ayn's idea of "pain going in only so far".

Now, what you want to do is accelerate your development. My suggestions, in order:

0) Use downtime to read. Standing in line? Read. Commuting? Read. Walking down the street? Read. On the toilet? Read. Maybe not whilst driving tho'.

1) Read Peikoff's book. Over and over again. Until you understand it in your bones.

2) Read all of Ayn's writings; reread as the mood strikes you.

3) Find a few intelligent, articulate, driven people to share ideas with, and perhaps to associate with in a professional sense, too.

4) If you aren't married yet, wait.

5) If you don't have children yet, wait.

6) Wait to commit to an "ultimate lover" until you are mature enough, in your own estimation, to make a good choice.

7) Don't buy expensive things (such as cars or houses) on credit unless you are accounting them as investments intended to provide you more value than they cost -- and even then, be very careful.

8) Work for/with experts in your chosen field to refine your skills

9) When prepared, start your own thing, maybe with a few friends, and kick it. Hard. Work your dang butt off -- which will be easy to do if you pick a field you like and have talent for.

10) Once your success is more or less predictable, and your view has resolved into a long-range, clear perspective, start searching for your "ultimate lover" (no need to refrain from love in the meantime, just reserve the right to change your mind if you discover that you need a different kind of lover). Never compromise your principles to attract a lover ... if you are mature and rational, then in a world of 7 billion you'll have a pretty good chance of finding someone who agrees with you in principle -- or is interested to learn.

11) Now that you are happy, enjoy life as long as possible!

Cheers,

- David

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  • 3 weeks later...

One cannot objectively answer a subjective question.

Happiness is a relative assessment of your current circumstances.

Since subjective thought is too often based on the shifting sands of

emotion and feelings, such an answer is subject to change in reaction

to new circumstances.

Worth is a subjective assessment which depends upon your decisions on

what is relevant what is not.

But, you have in part posed some solutions in your missive. What you do

and who you do it with has a bearing on what makes it worth doing.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I fully accept what Objectivism says on how to live and be happy, but never in my life have I honestly been able to say "It's great to be alive; I love life." I find it hard to significantly value life, probably because I've never been able to justify life as being worthwhile. I like dedicating myself to certain people and activities, but it's a minimal amount of them that I enjoy - I don't want it to be a minimal amount; I can't find more. So I don't think the problem is my philosophical values. I think it's either this world (not providing enough things to potentially stimulate me) or it's me (not finding those potentials or having a personality that doesn't impress easily).

The more new experiences I try that fail to stimulate me, the more apathetic I become towards life and it lowers my optimism for the potential. I hate being bored all the time, but I'm running out of things to try; I'm struggling to figure out any other methods to help me uncover the worthwhileness of life.

My tip is: Find what it is you do not like about yourself and apply discipline and a plan to change it to what you do like and find inspiring. This kind of lethargy comes when you don't find being with yourself much fun, when you don't find yourself inspiring.

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"I find it hard to significantly value life, probably because I've never been able to justify life as being worthwhile."

I find that sort of a strange thing to say, because I don't think anyone gets up one morning and says, "Hey, life's worthwhile. How 'bout that!" Actually, life brings with it problems and obstacles. It's up to you to overcome them. You seem to look for "stimulation" from life. Ain't gonna happen, kid. You must provide that for yourself. Find something, ANYTHING, that's worth doing. Just keep doing it. Try to get better at it. It'll give you a sense of accomplishment that will drive you to go further.

Is is possible that after reading some of Rand's fiction (like AS), you've decided whatever you want isn't attainable and that people really aren't worth it? That's twisted thinking because you need to GO AFTER SOMETHING before attaining it. Life isn't going to provide you with it. As for people, have you decided that anyone who isn't John Galt isn't worth your time? You might want to rethink that. Many years ago, someone lamented that he couldn't find anyone "rational" enough to play golf with. Another person in the room asked. "What are you looking for in a golf partner? A discussion on Aristotle or the type of game that will challenge yours?" Think about it.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I like dedicating myself to certain people and activities, but it's a minimal amount of them that I enjoy - I don't want it to be a minimal amount; I can't find more. So I don't think the problem is my philosophical values. I think it's either this world (not providing enough things to potentially stimulate me) or it's me (not finding those potentials or having a personality that doesn't impress easily).

I suggest to check first with a psychiatrist if you have a depressive disorder. Believe me, this is important.

Until you're sure your brain is working right, from a physical standpoint, you can go ahead to ask yourself about your premises, values, etc.

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