Ask Ed: Comforting the Crushed

Ed ponders helpful advice / Contributed Photo

Hi Ed.

I’ve been feeling crushed by my cosmic insignificance lately. I can’t seem to find meaning to my daily tasks, knowing it will all result in death and I will eventually be forgotten. How do you suggest I find purpose in my life, and keep myself from succumbing to existential dread?

Beyond the help of Descartes textbooks

Dear Beyond the Help of Descartes Textbooks,

Firstly, thank you for your honesty. I have to say I was a bit overwhelmed upon receiving your message, and spent a day or two contemplating my own existence. Then I remembered my purpose here in life is to give advice to others, so here I am, writing to you. The truth is, Beyond the Help, we all feel insignificant at some point. The constant go-go-go attitude of life can distract us from finding meaning and actually enjoying life, leaving us to feel alone. If we’re always thinking about what we should be doing, it’s easy for us to become hyper-critical of ourselves and others, ultimately leading to burnout, which it sounds like you may be suffering from. A while back I answered some questions on burnout, and my advice is still the same. Be kind to yourself! Think about how far you’ve come, and understand that even if things aren’t going perfectly in your life right now, they will get better. Remind yourself all the things you are capable of, and remember that negative self talk will only hold you back. Focus on how you’re feeling in the moment, and what you can do to improve that feeling. If you want to take this a step further, meditation and journaling can help you take a little more time to focus on yourself. Even though everything is temporary, it doesn’t mean your impact is. You live on through your influence on others, so you should be able to find fulfillment through acting as the best version of yourself. Additionally, finding things that you’re passionate about or things that make you happy, no matter how menial, can greatly improve the way you see the world. Enjoy the little things: wake up early to watch the sunrise, drink a cup of warm tea, laugh at your friends’ cheesy jokes, look at the stars at night. Do anything that makes your life a little more beautiful. The bottom line is there is no meaning of life, so create your own meaning by living life to the fullest! The universe doesn’t need to be as stressful as it seems, just allow yourself to live. Another option of course is to completely succumb to your dread and let the universe consume you, but that’s not nearly as fun. Thank you for writing to me, and let me know how your soul-searching progresses!  – Ed