Coping

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Chase Watkins
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Coping

Postby Chase Watkins » Sun Oct 07, 2007 1:23 am UTC

i dont exist.
Last edited by Chase Watkins on Sat Aug 21, 2010 3:43 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Sarcio
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Re: Coping

Postby Sarcio » Sun Oct 07, 2007 2:07 am UTC

Can't help you with the whole motivation thing. I've the motivation of a peanut.

But i know exactly what you mean. And let me express it this way. Atheism is a religion. It may be one based on logic, fact, and reason, but it is still just like any other. a religion. What's that mean? It can be wrong.

The implications?
None of us really know, for a fact, just what the hell is going on in this cosmic cesspit we call existance. Why are we here? What are we doing? What comes after it all? How do i justify anything? No answer to these questions can be given as a 100% correct answer. You may believe the answer, but you can't PROVE it.

So what is my point?
Think of something you enjoy doing. Riding a roller coaster, kissing a girl (i'm assuming by your name you're male), jumping up and down and singing "it's the end of the world as you know it". Think of that feeling that you get when you here someone say something that is just INCREDIBLY funny. Can you describe it? But it's good anyway, even though you don't have any way to express just exactly what it is, right? So there's something in this life that you can enjoy, right? Some pleasure you can gain from it? For me, personally, the look in my girlfriend's eyes the night she told me just how much she loved me...best feeling in the freaking world.

What's all that matter?
Something in this life you know exists, and you know is good. So what have we gotten in this life that we KNOW. 1) you can be happy. 2) you can be sad. 3) you're gonna die. That's honestly about all i can come up with that i KNOW. Well, #3 is the important one.
See, the question you're asking is...
if at the end, it all just goes away, what's the point of anything? How do you know it goes away? Does it? I don't know that. Reincarnation seems possible. A god seems possible. multiple layers of existance, glorious transcendance, seems possible. But we don't know any of this do we?

My conclusion:
The purpose of life is to be happy. Do whatever it is that makes you happy, and you can't be going wrong.
I find it hard to believe that we exist without purpose. There's gotta be something. I dunno what it is though. My best bet then? Be happy!
If there is a god, i'm sure he'll be understanding, i was just going off what i knew. If there isn't, if it's reincarnation, hell, i'm having fun in every life, can i really complain?? Transcendance, maybe this is the lesson to learn in this little bit of space? If we all fade into existance, i made the best of what i had, right?
And the simple fact is, you can't change any of this. If the universe means nothing, and i'm going to die within 80 years, and that'll be that, and nothing more matters...then there's nothing i can do to change that. So i might as well live my life happily.

Does everything have to have a purpose?
Must we focus on minutia?
I'm content to live happily.
I just wish the rest of the world could figure that one out.

What makes you happy?
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RAPTORATTACK!!!
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Re: Coping

Postby RAPTORATTACK!!! » Sun Oct 07, 2007 2:13 am UTC

i deal with it by assuming there is something after, not a god or some stupid 72 virgins thing, just something else.

course, there is no easy answer to this and basically you can just live your life or devote it to living longer which is usually no fun. like the guy who eats as little as possible. just accept whatever you want to and continue on, there's not really any other way.

i choose pretty much what people who have near death experience report. its pretty comforting, and it doesn't have all the problems of other religions.
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Douglas
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Re: Coping

Postby Douglas » Sun Oct 07, 2007 2:14 am UTC

Chase Watkins wrote:I've found myself fighting off somewhat of an "existential coma" where all thoughts lead to the question why and sometimes repressed tears. It may be my new found obsession with Pink Floyd, and I am an Atheist. Seeing as this is a place where one can find many of those, I was wondering how some of you cope with the near positivity that we are all just part of a random entity and will soon fall into oblivion. I've just had no desire to do anything lately and it is ruining my grades. It's just odd to think that I can be depressed and accept it as fact but still not have any power over it. Frankly, I just wish I could force myself to be Christian, just so I can have some sort of ambition in the time being.


First, I'd like to point out that Christianity is not the only religion (thank God (heh...)). If you are seeking a purpose in life, you may look to some of the others, if only for ideas.

Second, you sound depressed. I can't quite gauge where you're at, but I'd encourage you to speak to a counsellor, professor, teacher, minister, scout leader, etc. about your thoughts, especially if you've had any thoughts of harming yourself.

As for my own coping, I'm not really sure. I guess we'll all die someday (short of the singularity), and we just have to make the best of the time we have here. Living your life worried about death is a miserable existance.

I wish I had a better answer. I'll give it some thought and post more later.

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Re: Coping

Postby VannA » Sun Oct 07, 2007 2:23 am UTC

Find a purpose that appeals.

That's all there is too it.

You can't really be given one.. you have to find it for yourself.

And yes, you need to be able to either forget the realisation that things, ultimately, may not matter.. or you have to be able to deal with the juxtapositioning of having a purpose you believe is ultimately futile.
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Re: Coping

Postby chaosspawn » Sun Oct 07, 2007 3:27 am UTC

I can work up some existential angst merely by contemplating the laws of thermodynamics. Seriously, the heat death of the universe is a sad thing to think about.

But how to cope? Usually I just ignore it. I mean why be concerned with whether or not you have a purpose when there so many things out there. I love to learn about things, design, build, hang out with friends. Do I have any sort of grand goal for this all? nope.

I suppose the attitude I have is that purpose to life is irrelevant to experiencing it. Put it this way, the idea of sandbox games are pretty popular. But they have no build in goals or objectives, instead the player is merely given things he can do. It's entirely up to the player to construct any meaning for the situation, or to not and just mess around. I'm certain the analogy to life is obvious, nobody can just hand you the answer to life (the universe and everything), really it's going to have to be what you make of it.
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Latentsage
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Re: Coping

Postby Latentsage » Sun Oct 07, 2007 3:38 am UTC

It is once we realize that there is no point to doing anything, that we can truly do anything. There is no universal purpose to say what we should do...

Some cope with this by having their personal lifelong goal. Some just live with goals each day. I personally am just learning. I do things to experience them, and slowly increase my knowledge. Some may consider that pointless. That's just the point ;) .

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Re: Coping

Postby Nath » Sun Oct 07, 2007 4:04 am UTC

Chase Watkins wrote:I've found myself fighting off somewhat of an "existential coma" where all thoughts lead to the question why and sometimes repressed tears. It may be my new found obsession with Pink Floyd, and I am an Atheist. Seeing as this is a place where one can find many of those, I was wondering how some of you cope with the near positivity that we are all just part of a random entity and will soon fall into oblivion. I've just had no desire to do anything lately and it is ruining my grades. It's just odd to think that I can be depressed and accept it as fact but still not have any power over it.

I can sympathize -- it used to bother me, too.

However, the fact that you are a random creature who will eventually cease to exist doesn't change the fact that right now, you are a sentient being. Just as sentient as you would have been if you'd been created by a god. You are incredibly lucky to be a sentient being, and not a rock. Enjoy the universe. Alter it to better suit your preferences. Don't like disease? Work towards eradicating it. Disappointed by the limitations of human intelligence? Work towards creating something better. Like pop tarts? Eat lots of pop tarts. This is as good a use as any for your time.

In other words, click here.

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Re: Coping

Postby Mecks » Sun Oct 07, 2007 4:37 am UTC

I smell an opportunity to quote The Big Lebowski.

Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos.


Incidentally, the meaning of my life is to quote Lebowski every chance I get. See the beauty of the universe yet?
You can't sleep at night
You can't dream your dream
Your fingerprints on file
Left clumsily at the scene

Your own worst enemy has come to town...

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Re: Coping

Postby Iv » Sun Oct 07, 2007 12:44 pm UTC

Chase Watkins wrote:Seeing as this is a place where one can find many of those, I was wondering how some of you cope with the near positivity that we are all just part of a random entity and will soon fall into oblivion.

Vitamin C. I began to take it to cure a common cold. I then searched some things about it. I learned that the fact it could cure common cold was a urban myth but I discovered that it gave me a real motivational burst. Apparently there is debate in the medical community as to if doctors should recommend a daily intake of ten to twenty time the current recommendation. Even at 500mg a day, the effects are very noticeable.

The motivational drive is just a chemical mix. Once the reason stops to support it, you have to rely on the limbic system.

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Re: Coping

Postby pinecone » Sun Oct 07, 2007 3:20 pm UTC

I might be able to help, same kind of thought train

First, consider why you believe that a religious purpose would give you greater meaning or whatever, i assume by this you mean that the concept of being rewarded in heaven, some kind of eternal pleasure factory where you get whatever you want and things are perfect and so on, right? If its not that, then it would have to be living out of fear of messing up and going to hell to burn.

If we can assume that the "meaning of life" to put it that way, is to seek pleasure (I don't know a better word to encompass all those related emotions, happiness, satisfaction?) until we die, then the highest level of success in life would be to permanently feel the highest level of pleasure for, i guess, as long as possible. Death is often seen as a sad thing, even for a homeless guy with no friends and family, as if the person was going to be sitting around as a ghost frowning, but as an atheist (and i can only assume you truly believe there is no god or spirit-related-things, enough to live your life on the assumption they dont exist) you know that there is no sadness or happiness after death, only the emotions in the people you know that the event created (sad family members, friends etc). I am not quite sure whether dying right now or having 100 years of constant perfect pleasure then dying would be that different, i cant really see why the latter would be better, i can see why it would be better than an un-enjoyed time alive but i feel like im at some kind of mental brick wall when i get to that point, i dont understand.

Pleasure is what you should be after, unfortunately its often not as motivating as i'd like, and i have been having troubles myself recently with this, i guess im not satisfied with satisfaction? I'm sorry if this didnt help much, but its for my own benefit as well, i'd like a hand too.

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Re: Coping

Postby Sarcio » Sun Oct 07, 2007 4:08 pm UTC

Here's the way i look at what you just said pinecone.

If there IS some kind of universal purpose...death is gonna be the only way you're gonna find out for certain. But consider this: you have probably 80-100 years of life in you. The universe has been around, as far as we can document, something like 6 BILLION years. A drop in the bucket, the universal truth isn't going to simply vanish in the next 100 years. Hell, if you could live 10,000 years (how freaking boring would that be?) it'd STILL be just a drop in the bucket, and the universal truth...just as unlikely to change. my greatest quest in life, is to die.

But hell, for all i know, i've only got just this one life. I might have others, but i can't be sure. Now, i know i can enjoy this life. And i know i can hate this life. As a matter of fact, i do ample amounts of both on a daily basis. I've also discovered the beauty of irony, the simplicity of love, and the importance of staring at the clouds to see if you can find a shape or two. Just try to stay away from the ones that are near the sun, it makes your eyes hurt.

So i know at the end, i'll have this question answered. And i know that no matter what i do now, i'll never have that question answered until i get to the end. This might be the only chance i get to walk down the road. So i think the best idea right now would be to go stare at those clouds.

Unfortunately, there's no clouds in the sky today so I think i'll go throw rocks at a pond somewhere. I'm still fascinated at why that's fascinating.
Last edited by Sarcio on Sun Oct 07, 2007 8:48 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Coping

Postby Goplat » Sun Oct 07, 2007 4:15 pm UTC

If you think "happiness" or "pleasure" is the meaning of life, it follows that the most meaningful life ever is that of the lab rat with electrodes in its brain, holding down the button to stimulate its pleasure center until it starves to death. Is that really how you want to live?

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Re: Coping

Postby Sarcio » Sun Oct 07, 2007 4:20 pm UTC

Goplat wrote:If you think "happiness" or "pleasure" is the meaning of life, it follows that the most meaningful life ever is that of the lab rat with electrodes in its brain, holding down the button to stimulate its pleasure center until it starves to death. Is that really how you want to live?

no. but i don't have proof otherwise. And i'm sure there IS some kind of universal purpose. But i sure as hell wouldn't mind being the lab rat until i can find out what that purpose is.

oh, and i think my life has been a bit more meaningful. Staring at the clouds can really teach you a thing or two. Try it.

The difference is, i'm on a quest for knowledge. I enjoy every step of it, but i make meaning to my life, my life means something to me. That means that even if this is all i get, this is the end of the line and nothing more matters, it mattered to me, and if i cease to exist the moment i die, i guess i'm the most important person in the universe to please.
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Chase Watkins
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Re: Coping

Postby Chase Watkins » Sun Oct 07, 2007 6:09 pm UTC

i dont exist.
Last edited by Chase Watkins on Sat Aug 21, 2010 3:43 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Coping

Postby Malice » Sun Oct 07, 2007 6:21 pm UTC

Chase Watkins wrote:Thank you al, that was all very insightful. However, I was more asking how exactly do you just stop thinking about the world's purpose.


Wake up. Go to school. Do your homework. Talk to friends. Be with your family. Read a book. Make something. Go to sleep.

It's not any easier or harder than that.

Now, a big problem with doing what I enjoy (hanging out with friends, playing guitar and laughing my ass off) is that my being a minor in addition to my poor grades plus my strict, self-concious/anti social (I know, it's an odd combination) dad really confines me to only playing guitar and briefly contacting my friends a few minutes a day, and I live in a district where I only have, and want, a few friends because nearly everyone is so damn ignorant! And out of all of my friends, only one gives a shit about any of this kind of stuff.


1. Get your grades back up. Just take a deep breath, realize the universe doesn't care about your algebra homework, and then do it anyway. If your grades are poor because you're having trouble with the material, that's one thing, but there's no excuse for simply not doing the work. (Believe me, I've been there.)

2. Talk to your father about letting you have more time to be social. This will be easier if you've already done 1.

3. Everyone ignorant around you? Live in, say, the South? It appears you've already figured this one out, but the Internet is your savior. Go find people online to be friends with.
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Re: Coping

Postby Sarcio » Sun Oct 07, 2007 8:46 pm UTC

As for how to stop thinking about it:
staring at clouds, and throwing at rocks at ponds. That helps. have fun. it's just that simple. see, when you're having fun, the 'giveacrap' factor drops. if you continually have fun with everything you do....

as for your question:
well, i'm atheist. eternity might happen, i might not be around to witness it. either way, hell if i know! that is one of the reasons i'm quite sure that there is a purpose to this all, even if i don't know what it is. or, at the moment, care. Why? cuz i'm havin fun! :)
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Re: Coping

Postby e946 » Sun Oct 07, 2007 10:51 pm UTC

For me, I guess the fact that I can't do anything about it makes me kind of not care. What's the point of worrying about it?

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Re: Coping

Postby Razzle Storm » Sun Oct 07, 2007 11:41 pm UTC

Malice wrote:
Chase Watkins wrote:Thank you al, that was all very insightful. However, I was more asking how exactly do you just stop thinking about the world's purpose.


Wake up. Go to school. Do your homework. Talk to friends. Be with your family. Read a book. Make something. Go to sleep.

It's not any easier or harder than that.

Now, a big problem with doing what I enjoy (hanging out with friends, playing guitar and laughing my ass off) is that my being a minor in addition to my poor grades plus my strict, self-concious/anti social (I know, it's an odd combination) dad really confines me to only playing guitar and briefly contacting my friends a few minutes a day, and I live in a district where I only have, and want, a few friends because nearly everyone is so damn ignorant! And out of all of my friends, only one gives a shit about any of this kind of stuff.


1. Get your grades back up. Just take a deep breath, realize the universe doesn't care about your algebra homework, and then do it anyway. If your grades are poor because you're having trouble with the material, that's one thing, but there's no excuse for simply not doing the work. (Believe me, I've been there.)

2. Talk to your father about letting you have more time to be social. This will be easier if you've already done 1.

3. Everyone ignorant around you? Live in, say, the South? It appears you've already figured this one out, but the Internet is your savior. Go find people online to be friends with.


Don't do #3. You said you already have friends. Take the time to strengthen your relationship with them, people you know, and people who can actually make an effect on your life. The internet is not your savior. If you think all the people around you are ignorant, maybe help solve the problem. Talk with them in a calm and rational manner (I don't know what they're ignorant of) and see what they have to say. Perhaps they aren't all as ignorant as you think.

As for thinking about why you matter to the world, you don't. But you do matter to the people in your family, yourself, your friends, and probably that guy who's life you're going to save one day 12 years from now. Also, you sound relatively reasonable. Talk with your dad about what he's doing, and why. Again, don't get frustrated or angry, or that's just going to turn on the "I'm your father and that is a good enough reason for doing (insert situation here)" answer. Ask him to explain himself, calmly. If he does pull the "Because I'm your father" or "Because I'm older" or whatever lame excuse, tell him how you feel about the situation, calmly (I can't emphasize the calmly enough, no one actually listens to someone who is yelling at them). Perhaps he doesn't even realize how he's making you feel, and he won't ever realize it until you let him know.

But yeah, then find something that interests you and start the revolution.

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Re: Coping

Postby Gelsamel » Sun Oct 07, 2007 11:59 pm UTC

I can't really help you as I've never been depressed ever.

Who cares if everything is random? I'm just having an awesome time playing video games, studying physics and listening to Death metal.
"Give up here?"
- > No
"Do you accept defeat?"
- > No
"Do you think games are silly little things?"
- > No
"Is it all pointless?"
- > No
"Do you admit there is no meaning to this world?"
- > No

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Re: Coping

Postby Sarcio » Mon Oct 08, 2007 12:01 am UTC

and that, my friend, is a beautiful life philosphy.
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Re: Coping

Postby pinecone » Mon Oct 08, 2007 1:32 am UTC

Goplat wrote:If you think "happiness" or "pleasure" is the meaning of life, it follows that the most meaningful life ever is that of the lab rat with electrodes in its brain, holding down the button to stimulate its pleasure center until it starves to death. Is that really how you want to live?


If this situation of being a lab rat gives the most possible pleasure or happiness and every other emotion that is good, then logically would you ever want to do anything else, its not like you wouldn't enjoy it, i don't see how you or anybody could turn down such a chance. Perhaps its not the most "meaningful life" from histories perspective, he wouldn't have accomplished much or done anything great, but i dont think we need to focus our lives on finding a greater meaning, such things are only a means to an end, that being happiness and satisfaction of a life well lived or whatever the person may feel, all feelings which i assume would be present in far greater quantities in the rat-brain-machine thing

And to original poster, I'm trying to work out how i can just enjoy the day to day life as well, instead of worrying about things that i know dont matter, i've made resolutions to play more video games, but im trying to find some passion for some field i can work in or work towards, a career i'll love. I don't think you should try to educate your "ignorant friends", unless it really is important to chat about this kind of thing to your friends, and like you said its not a big deal to them. You dont have to forget about it, but try spending more time with your friends having fun and enjoying yourself, but if you cant (because of dad, teachers and so on) then try and decide what you want in a future, picture some time when you can laugh and play guitar all day and work towards it, work or school isnt so bad when its just the first stop on the train to pleasure town

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Re: Coping

Postby e946 » Mon Oct 08, 2007 2:57 am UTC

Goplat wrote:If you think "happiness" or "pleasure" is the meaning of life, it follows that the most meaningful life ever is that of the lab rat with electrodes in its brain, holding down the button to stimulate its pleasure center until it starves to death. Is that really how you want to live?


Do you really believe that there's no difference between physical pleasure and mental pleasure? Winning a video game doesn't cause physical pleasure (At least not directly), but it's still a great feeling, for example. It doesn't have to apply to just timewasting though, completing a project that has been troublingyou for a long time is also a good feeling, and there's no physical pleasure involved.

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Re: Coping

Postby H.E.L.e.N. » Mon Oct 08, 2007 4:02 am UTC

Chase Watkins wrote:Seeing as this is a place where one can find many of those, I was wondering how some of you cope with the near positivity that we are all just part of a random entity and will soon fall into oblivion.


Make the picture smaller. Zoooooooom in.

Now, I'm a poor example, because I've stopped caring about the existential void. But it used to concern me quite a bit. (I studied literary theory, which is basically an existential crisis with a term paper on top.)

Philosophically, I might believe in the randomness of the universe and all, but I don't think that's as important as my immediate surroundings. And I don't think I'm going to fall into oblivion "soon." For all practical purposes, we're individuals who can make choices, including chosing to get emotionally invested in other individuals. If I want to create something, I can get absorbed in how cool that thing is, and the small power-burst of accomplishment that follows. Another excuse for not doing anything is that there's nothing new under the sun -- and maybe there isn't, but that doesn't mean I've seen everything yet, and I'm still excited about the prospect of discovery.

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Re: Coping

Postby hellmitre » Mon Oct 08, 2007 4:13 am UTC

Because none of it matters in a grand scheme, all that matters is what you enjoy and what makes you feel good. If you enjoy watching Shakespeare by lightning, (points for whomever gets the reference) go ahead, it's your life you're living. See, I'm pretty much your textbook Nihilist. But I'm not angry like aformentioned Big Lebowski Nihilists, I'm happy with it. Could just be my positive outlook on life, but right now I'm doing things for my own reasons; going to college, learning cool stuffs, getting moar bettar with mah werdz. Perhaps when/if something takes a downturn I'll be less optimistic. Do you have a history of depression? A friend of mine gets depressed on occasion and his bouts are marked by a severe disinterest in life.
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Re: Coping

Postby yy2bggggs » Mon Oct 08, 2007 4:20 am UTC

Sorry, I didn't read all of the replies yet, but I'm going to post anyway.

That we're mortal means we're going to die, and then we'll be no more. That much is true, but so is this: That we're mortal means we're alive at all, and we get a nice three score and ten trips around ol' Sol.

In other words, you are alive. There will be plenty of time for being dead when you are dead, so stop being dead while you're alive.

As for purpose, here's how the man himself says it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MmpUWEW6Is
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Re: Coping

Postby Infornographer » Mon Oct 08, 2007 4:32 am UTC

Purpose? Ultimately, the universe will enter heat death and none of anything we do will have arguably made a difference within our own universe. Everything decays, eventually. Having said that, out of the 10^80 molecules in the observable universe, only a handful get to experience consciousness like we do. Enjoy your little slice of sentience, because the fact that we may lack an ultimate purpose does not take away from the fact that we feel, that we experience, and that we should enjoy it while we can.

Also, watch Feynman speak in yy2bggggs's link. :). Feynman speaks far more eloquently than I can.
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Re: Coping

Postby Sjonyonye » Mon Oct 08, 2007 7:50 am UTC

Do you know how amazing it is that you are even here? With the conscious experience you so gloriously have? You might not even have existed, but you do. And how lucky you are.

That always gets me. It instantly puts me in a mindset where I really feel things. I look around in marvel of the visual experience. I look at my hands, the hands that billions of other people share similar versions of. I think of all the chance happenings that had to occur to pave way for my existence. If any of my uncountable ancestors hadn't given birth, *I* wouldn't be here.

Maybe I just get off on this chance stuff too much. But I am so thankful for this opportunity to exist, that I don't even care if there is no foreseen purpose to it.

Now for a better version of what I was trying to say:

"We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here." - Richard Dawkins

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Re: Coping

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Oct 08, 2007 3:42 pm UTC

Sjonyonye wrote:Do you know how amazing it is that you are even here? With the conscious experience you so gloriously have? You might not even have existed, but you do. And how lucky you are.

That always gets me. It instantly puts me in a mindset where I really feel things. I look around in marvel of the visual experience. I look at my hands, the hands that billions of other people share similar versions of. I think of all the chance happenings that had to occur to pave way for my existence. If any of my uncountable ancestors hadn't given birth, *I* wouldn't be here.


No, it's if they hadn't given birth when they did, if they hadn't procreated exactly when they did.. I mean, if you go back eight generations, find one set of ancestors and delay them from procreating for an extra hour or so, odds are you will not exist, because their child wouldn't have been the same as the original, on down the line to the point where your mother's personality might have grated on your father, so rather than him finding it endearing and continuing a relationship, he would have passed her by... and obviously, you wouldn't have existed.

Every individual on the planet is the product of billions of people throughout time. Given the number of shared ancestors, if you go back far enough and change one minor thing, the world could be unrecognizable.

I was wondering how some of you cope with the near positivity that we are all just part of a random entity and will soon fall into oblivion.


I don't understand the question, as that's how I cope with pretty much every problem, to put things in perspective. "Doesn't matter how I solve this problem, I'm just the product of random procreation on a speck in the universe that's completely irrelevant to the grand scheme... so nothing I do or say will matter to anyone, so surely this decision on whether I should buy it in blue or purple is completely irrelevant. Whew... I almost took life seriously there."

Also.. yeah, get your grades up if you can. Yes, the homework is stupid and pointless. Yes, the tests just repeat the same questions over and over again. Yes, a moderately trained monkey could do it. Do it anyway. I really wish I had. Yes, it's all completely ridiculous, but I still wish I'd actually done it.
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Re: Coping

Postby FiddleMath » Mon Oct 08, 2007 6:19 pm UTC

I underwent the same issues you're talking about, from about the time that I was 13 to the time that I was about 16 or 17. During that time, I thought pretty hard about it. Now, I think I've got some decent answers. I wrote down what I've worked out, here, largely so I'd stop worrying about it. It's a little hand-wavy, and it's admittedly tailored to my own experiences, but you may find it contains some useful answers.

Mainly, the answer is this: Try to do challenging and enjoyable things.

No purpose, no meaning to your life, can be found through straightforward logic and philosophy, without taking some tenets on faith. I'm a skeptic, so I don't find that helpful. As I argue (briefly) in the above link, the question "What is the meaning of life" isn't really a reasonable question to ask. Why, after all, should life be the sort of thing that has a meaning? What should life be the sort of thing that has a purpose? Why shouldn't your life be a random speck in a limitless sea? Why should you expect anything else? And even if you had a logically sound answer to any of these questions, would you really follow that answer on a day-to-day basis? For my part, I suspect that any answer to these questions would be deeply disappointing.

This probably sounds like a cop-out, but the honest response to this question is to unask it. The question doesn't make logical sense, an answer wouldn't help much, and worrying about it makes your life worse. It's my honest experience that worrying long and hard about these questions is more likely to be a symptom than the cause of depression, though they can certainly turn a bad day into an awful one.

A surprising amount of feeling good is pretty strictly biochemical. So eat well, get enough (but not too much) sleep, get some exercise, and make a point of being social from time to time. I know you're intelligent and 13, and this makes an awful lot of people your own age seem like idiots. I was there myself. But it's way better to be around other people than it is to hold silent disdain for everyone around you. You can enjoy their company, even if they're not so bright as you. And as you said, you have some friends. Do what you need to do to spend time with them. In particular, I've found that to be around a few close friends is better than to be among a crowd of acquaintances. But this is a matter of personality, and your mileage may vary.

Another important part of feeling good, for me, is accomplishing things I'm proud of. So, do challenging and enjoyable things. Learning music is great for this; I find I need more than one passion, multiple things to work on, so that when I'm spending time alone, I can switch from one thing to another as my attention wanes and waxes.

Also, there was a particularly relevant thread on motivation here before. You should probably read the whole thread. It contains one of the best bits of advice ever:
mattmacf wrote:Action precedes motivation.


Do things that you find challenging and enjoyable.

Oh, and you really do want to pull up your grades. The material is often slow, boring, disconnected tripe, I know. It's possible, even, that school is set up specifically to make you more amenable to boring work. But the effort involved is really pretty minor compared to the difficulty of doing most worthwhile things, and having good grades now will help you in some pretty real ways in the future. In particular, you'll be more likely to get into a college where there are people smart enough for you to relate to, and this helps a lot.

But mostly, do challenging, enjoyable things.

See also: Paul Graham, [What You'll Wish You'd Known].

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Re: Coping

Postby bonder » Wed Oct 10, 2007 8:35 pm UTC

I'm not sure why everyone thinks that life has to have a purpose. Anyway, as an atheist, I don't believe in an afterlife. That is how I cope. I live based on the idea that I could die tomorrow and that would be game over, no extra guys, no continues, no more quarters. So, that's why I do things that I enjoy and try new things because if I don't, I may not get another chance.

Personally, I see the beliefs of an afterlife/reincarnation to be the ones that are more scary and should lead to more of the "why?/what's the point?" questions. Sure, skydiving would be fun, but if i don't get to do it, I'll be able to do whatever I want in the afterlife, or there's always my next life, maybe then I'll have enough money/motivation to do it.

I guess I just see the atheist/naturalist world view as more empowering than others. Maybe I'm just a natural optimist.
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Re: Coping

Postby miraidesuka » Wed Oct 10, 2007 9:49 pm UTC

Chase Watkins wrote:I've found myself fighting off somewhat of an "existential coma" where all thoughts lead to the question why and sometimes repressed tears. It may be my new found obsession with Pink Floyd, and I am an Atheist. Seeing as this is a place where one can find many of those, I was wondering how some of you cope with the near positivity that we are all just part of a random entity and will soon fall into oblivion. I've just had no desire to do anything lately and it is ruining my grades. It's just odd to think that I can be depressed and accept it as fact but still not have any power over it. Frankly, I just wish I could force myself to be Christian, just so I can have some sort of ambition in the time being.


Part of the problem is in your frame of reference. As a philosophy major, I know how easy it is to get trapped in a frame of reference that far outweighs your mental ability to comprehend it. We've probably all had the same problem when we realize that we are as significant to the universe-at-large as the specks of dust we sweep off the floor are to us. In other words, in the grand scheme of things, we're worthless. Easy trap to fall into, made worse by Roger Waters.

Chase Watkins wrote:Thank you al, that was all very insightful. However, I was more asking how exactly do you just stop thinking about the world's purpose. Also, I am only thirteen, which I find is a deppressing age therein to be worrying about these things already. Mind you, I do not want to hurt myself or anything, I am not becoming the steriotypical 'emo'. Now, a big problem with doing what I enjoy (hanging out with friends, playing guitar and laughing my ass off) is that my being a minor in addition to my poor grades plus my strict, self-concious/anti social (I know, it's an odd combination) dad really confines me to only playing guitar and briefly contacting my friends a few minutes a day, and I live in a district where I only have, and want, a few friends because nearly everyone is so damn ignorant! And out of all of my friends, only one gives a shit about any of this kind of stuff. And whenever I try to forget about my existential being, my damn hippy-teacher has to give us a bloody assignment about our goals in life! It all boils down to one thing, a philosophy, if you will, ones I came up with while mowing the lawn one day. It goes like this, if eternity is to happen, how can anything be constrained to a finite existance? I believe you are all educated enough to decifer that, for I don't fee like doing it...


I've always found that for me, the world's purpose may be {null value}, but that gives you infinite freedom to define your own purpose. Granted, social norms and customs restrict what we get to do in order to further that purpose, but from the point of view of the universe, it doesn't care. It doesn't matter to the universe what you do with your life, who you love, how you live, what you eat or drink, it only matters to you, and those around you -- if you choose to let them to be involved with your affairs. You get to make the choices, without worrying about retribution from some etherial fairy.

As a side note: I'm not a physicist, but if the law of conservation of mass holds true, and the universe is a closed system, the elements that make up your physical composition in this universe are eternal...granted it's not what makes you you, but sometimes its nice to think that you are effectively immortal.

Second side note: Middle school teachers that are giving out papers about 'goals' and 'purposes' in life can often be placated by the simple use of trite cliche'd goals. Beware, your mileage may vary.
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Re: Coping

Postby Dark Ragnarok » Wed Oct 10, 2007 11:43 pm UTC

I remember i praised Bonder for this in the past, and i have to say it again.

Thank you, for saying it again.

[Insert of Bonder's wisdom]

Seriously, take into consideration his ideas

However, just a side note, the biggest part of solving that problem (so i have seemed to find on my own) is you need to value something above everything. In a sense, i think some *form* of faith needs to be had for everyone. I take it in art and love. and principals like honesty. Once you take upon something you value above everything else then you won't really have that problem very much. Nice thing is you get a choice.

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Re: Coping

Postby bonder » Wed Oct 10, 2007 11:51 pm UTC

For a more visual example of my last post, check out this comic strip: http://cectic.com/056.htm.
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Re: Coping

Postby Goplat » Thu Oct 11, 2007 12:47 am UTC

bonder wrote:For a more visual example of my last post, check out this comic strip: http://cectic.com/056.html. (url fixed)

You seem to be under the antiquated notion that death is inevitable. What if you die, and then the next day someone finds out how to reverse aging so humans can live forever? It's very likely to happen sometime this century. These days, you'd be a fool to risk your life for anything.

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Re: Coping

Postby Dark Ragnarok » Thu Oct 11, 2007 12:50 am UTC

It's more of an attitude so that you don't waste your time thinking that you can have all the time of the world.

/speaking on behalf of someone else required response

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Re: Coping

Postby DragonHawk » Thu Oct 11, 2007 1:07 am UTC

To Chase Watkins: Don't worry, a lot of people obsess about the meaning of life at some point or another. It generally happens when you first start to become aware of yourself and how you interact with the rest of the universe, and how the rest of the universe interacts with the rest of the rest of the universe. I'm glad I have these kinds of thoughts, and pity the mundane people who can never see beyond their own reach. How drab and dreary it must be, to never wonder or worry about the more. Now *that's* a pointless existence.

The fact that you're only 13 just means you're more intelligent (but we knew that, since you're an xkcd reader ;) ). Take pride in the fact that you're smart. It may not get you much now, but it will pay off later.

I'm a strict agnostic myself (strict agnostic: it is not that I am unsure; rather, I believe it is impossible to be sure). My rational mind tends towards atheistic thinking. I think that most likely, when we die, that's it. Like going to sleep and never waking up again. I've generally made peace with that concept. It still scares the hell out of me, of course, but it's a fear I control, rather than the other way around. It took time.

I know I sound like a moldy old adult, preaching patience and all that. Unfortunately, the only way to get this outlook is to live though the experiences that give it to you. So yah, life kinda sucks at your age. But it kinda sucks no matter what. Fortunately, it's also kinda neat. It's also what we've got to work with.

Who says life (or anything) has to have a purpose or a grand plan? If there is one, they forgot to tell us. So I set my own standards. What's the point of life? Well, I dunno, really, but I figure I'll do the best I can to live it. If I get to the end, and it turns out there is more, well, that's okay, too, then. If there's some kind of test, if they weigh my heart to see if is as light as a feather, well, I always do the best I can. That will be enough for any afterlife I would want to be part of.

I'm a quote junkie, so I'll close with some quotes:

"The molecules of your body are the same molecules that make up this station and the nebula outside, that burn inside the stars themselves. We are starstuff, we are the universe made manifest, trying to figure itself out." -- Babylon 5, "A Distant Star"

"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art. It has no survival value; rather is one of those things that give value to survival." -- C. S. Lewis

"Ten thousand years wasn't enough... no life time was enough, unless you lived it in such a way as to make it enough." -- Larry Niven, "Cautionary Tales"

"Success: To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!" -- Bessie Stanley

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Re: Coping

Postby Solt » Thu Oct 11, 2007 1:42 am UTC

You only get one life so maybe you should do something worthwhile with it instead of crying about how that's all you get.

That should be motivation enough, and it should be more motivation than if there's an afterlife.

And honestly? When you're having fun and enjoying yourself it makes no difference if you believe in the afterlife or not. When you live in the moment you enjoy the moment and the future doesn't matter.

Go out and do something!
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Re: Coping

Postby bonder » Thu Oct 11, 2007 3:32 am UTC

Goplat wrote:
bonder wrote:For a more visual example of my last post, check out this comic strip: http://cectic.com/056.html. (url fixed)

You seem to be under the antiquated notion that death is inevitable. What if you die, and then the next day someone finds out how to reverse aging so humans can live forever? It's very likely to happen sometime this century. These days, you'd be a fool to risk your life for anything.

First of all, since when is this idea "antiquated?" Second, I wouldn't want to live forever. The fact that I know I'm going to die is what makes me live with a kind of urgency. If I knew I could/would live forever, where's my motivation? Sure, I could go running with the bulls, but I'm feeling too lazy this year, and I've got thousands more years in which I could do this. Also, I never really said I risk my life for the things I do, that's just the way the artist chose to represent things in his comic, but I do happen to think he has a point.

Somewhat off topic: if we find we can live forever, then we'd have to stop reproducing, or at the very least impose serious restrictions on this, because if you keep putting things in the stack and never take anything out, at some point you've an integer overflow on your hands.
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Re: Coping

Postby goedjn4 » Thu Dec 20, 2007 12:30 am UTC

From a brutally practical standpoint,
a better diet and some exercise will improve your outlook tremendously.

From an eristic standpoint, the fact that you're worrying about is clear
evidence that you don't have enough real problems.

From a philosophical standpoint:
Life isn't supposed to have a purpose, you are. or:
You don't find yourself, you create yourself.

And I suppose that if you let it, the fact that we're here and then
we're not could be depressing, but remember that many of the
most beautiful things in the world are ephermal.

A snowflake, a sunset, a flame,
these are not less for being fleeting.
Are a smile, a dance and a kiss of
less worth than a place in Britannica?

Believing in god and eternity means you don't
have to work at deciding what's wrong or right,
requires of you a particular purpose, and
allows you bask in his reflected glory,

Hubris:
To believe in yourself and no god is a hard road.
To know what is wrong with no demon for a goad.
You decide what is right with no angel for guide.
and hold yourself to it, without heaven for a bribe.
It's a harder road, yes. A harder road by far.
But what glory you find upon it, what honors there are,
Are yours, bought and paid for, by living your life.
--Goedjn
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