The quality of life is improving by every imaginable standard.
The past two centuries have resulted in an explosion of human consciousness and understanding, giving our universe meaning and beauty.
Because, without consciousness, our universe would have no meaning and be a vast waste of space. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
It would seem that the moral imperative is to get all the humans on Earth to team up and accelerate our species beyond our single planet and become more conscious or develop something more conscious than we are, seeding the universe with meaningfulness and life.
Unfortunately, that isn’t going so well.
The Grand Scheme of Things
We are all-too-aware of the entire world in a very abstract, incorrect, and plain stupid way. Apparently, we’ve got the main ideas—that we don’t play an integral role in the “grand scheme of things” and that, quite frankly, neither does anyone else. After a couple more generations pass after your death, you are going to be completely gone and forgotten.
Even if our actions have consequences that have crazy effects on the future, will those future things matter?
Humanity will probably go out the same way the dinosaurs did, but instead of being cooked by an asteroid impact, we’ll be cooked by a nuclear bomb. If the bomb doesn’t kill you initially, we’ll just die off in a nuclear winter.
Or, if that doesn’t happen, we’ll progress too slowly and get killed by climate change. Or really just anything else. We don’t really know, I just think that the nuclear bomb scenario is more likely right now.
Whether or not you matter in this “grand scheme” teeter-totters on the fringe of human scientific knowledge, individual blindness, society, life, the universe, and basically everything.
Considering how much we don’t know, everything that we do know will probably get pulled up from its roots and completely redone—So there’s no point in making massive conclusions on something that means so much to too many people.
Conclusion #1: You may or may not matter at all.
The Pursuit of Happiness
Ask any of my peers on what their goal in life is, and they’ll tell you that their goal is to be happy.
Happiness is a vague goal, like “be better” or “be faster”. Happiness doesn’t give the same inspiring goal line that “lose 20 pounds” or “buy this figurine” does.
But let’s roll with the idea for a bit to pick at it some more.
First question: What steps are taken to reach the uninspiring imaginary goal of being happy?
Answer: Most people look to financial freedom as the ultimate freedom to have infinite happiness.
Second question: Is financial freedom the biggest source of freedom you can have?
Answer: Definitely not, we are shackled heavily by our own biology with uncontrollable urges and emotions like anger, intense debilitating horniness, and our flawed psychology, among other things. Financial freedom can only take you so far.
Third question: So is a playground with ultimate freedom the goal line for being happy?
Answer: This question is too broad, too powerful, and too important, so it’s a definite ‘maybe’.
Conclusion #2: Happiness is a shitty, uninspiring goal line that provides zero motivation and is too vague to properly analyze.
What Do People Really Need, If It Isn’t Happiness?
People have been a thing for enough time for us to know that we’re missing something right now because suicide rates are rising. 1
For suicide to be a leading cause of death2, we know that we have missed something, really, really important in our crazy-fast advancement as a human species.
Let’s Look At History
The last time the US & UK experienced a spike in suicide was in 1980 when the HIV/AIDS epidemic caused widespread despair in young gay males.3
The “gay plague” as it was affectionately called, caused severe anxiety and stigma.4
The stigma against mental hygiene is growing stronger and stronger.
Psychiatric care should be something every person gets in a predictable, set time.
But, as it currently stands, we are heavily stigmatizing groups of people with stereotypes like “depressed g/u/rls trying to get attention” and “teens saying they are nihilist/atheist/whatever”.
Regardless of whether you could benefit from psychiatric checkups, there’s a crowd of people out there who scoff at anybody looking to practice good mental hygiene.
For some, the words “get help” or “mental health” are already massive turn-offs.
When it comes to physical health, we have no problem. We know how to put on bandages and disinfect and clean minor cuts, but we don’t know how to manage grief, despair, hormonal changes, and much more.
Mental hygiene education could reduce the self-destructive behavior that we see happening.
Of course, even “education” is a word that gets thrown around far too often to substitute actual solutions. I mean, seriously, “we should educate people on teen pregnancy so that they understand the risk” is a decent statement that I hear a lot when my peers go on factless political rants. The statement, by itself, is great if you’re actually going to talk about what that education is supposed to be, but nobody actually delves into that. Ever. Education is a word mindless cod use to substitute their brain coming up with thoughts.
So, what is mental hygiene education supposed to help people with, in a more specific sense?
- Relationship Breakups
- Friendship Breakups
- Friend & Family Deaths
- Debilitating Illnesses
Mental hygiene means teaching people to face grief without forcing them to “be strong” or “protect” others. It means showing true feelings and being okay with crying and knowing that forgetting events is not how you deal with pain.
Something I’ve found very helpful to know are the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, & acceptance), but, the end goal for mental hygiene is to raise a generation of people who can rely on each other for mental support.
Conclusion #3: Mental hygiene should be taught like physical hygiene.
Happiness Is A Shitty Goal
I have trouble finding meaning in a lot of things I do.
I doubt happiness is a goal that is practical. But meaning, even if I’ve got no clue how to find it, is something that makes much more sense.
Everything lacks meaning. And even if it is a small spot in a small group on a small planet, meaning in life is the main goal. Meaning in the universe is still a big fat maybe, and it might stay that way for a very long time.
Conclusion #4: Meaning > Happiness