Baumeister writes that suffering is often linked to a meaning vacuum. He also says that people add meaning to their lives by deepening relationships, commitments and obligations.
And so, the antidote to our suffering is to compensate. To reengage with the rapture of new meaning.
For example, when I’m feeling sad and uninspired, I prefer to take long walks and make phone calls to friends and colleagues. The combination of the physical movement plus the social context overwhelms my suffering with feelings of connection, cocreation and contribution, and helps me escape my meaning vacuum.
Other times, when I’m feeling disconnected or lonely, I prefer to volunteer within my community. The combination of the social obligation, the physical labor and time commitment refills my meaning reservoir and erases whatever suffering previously existed.
And so, the goal is know yourself so well, that the moment you catch a whiff of meaninglessness, you know exactly how to compensate for the vacuum.
Think of it as an early warning system, a personal seismograph that helps you take preemptive action against impending inner turmoil and anxiety.
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