Path

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.
― Victor Frankl

This is part of my series: American Zombie: How To Stop Being A Mindless Consumer.

Many Americans work unfulfilling jobs and resort to entertainment to escape the alienation they feel. Or they retreat to social media. Either way, media bombards them with advertisements for stuff that promises to fill the void. Buy this luxury car or these stretchy socks or that surround sound system, and the emptiness will dissipate.

Now the standard advice is to stay away from social media and television ads, limiting our wants and consumption. And it’s not terrible advice. But it’s not great advice either because it doesn’t address the root problem. It doesn’t fill the gaping hole inside us.

A better approach is to fill the hole with a long-term goal. Choose some ambition or aspiration to work toward. Maybe it’s learning how to play guitar, tutoring kids, or writing a book. (My Uncle Jim was a successful employment attorney but found meaning and purpose in painting.) It doesn’t matter what you choose. Just choose something.

Once you have your goal, join a community of folks with similar a goal. Guitar players can join an amateur band for weekly jam sessions. The Internet hosts numerous writing groups. (I’m part of one.) Whatever you’re into, find a community of like-minded people.

When you have an important goal and a community, mediocre TV loses its allure. You’ll get bored with Facebook doom scrolling. Because life is so much more interesting than watching other people live their lives.

When you have a long-term goal that gives your life meaning and purpose, you’ll lose interest in endlessly consuming stuff. Because life is so much more exciting than filling your house with things you don’t need.