Those itching for deeper conversations and more meaningful experiences seldom find their itch. An outlook that labels everyday life shallow and meaningless tends to suffer from always upping the ante, yet perpetually failing to reach a desired destination. Having seemingly scratched every possible location, the itch remains.
Observing behavior online can encourage you to notice just how easily the collective hive mind latches onto meaningless, dopamine-inducing content. Self-improvement gurus regurgitate the same diatribes, and motivational videos spew unactionable generalities until their viewer retention metrics have been hit.
This article is for those who’ve become dissatisfied with their search for deeper waters in a world that seemingly gets shallower by the day. A focus on controlling only what you can is the guiding principle on this page.
Observe the Reality’s Course Without Judgment
Noticing the plethora of shallow social interactions can be a depressing observation. It often seems that people are content with starting at “hello” and stopping at a discussion about the weather. Real emotions are seldom shared as vulnerability is seen as weakness, and useful information is kept close in attempts to maintain any competitive advantage.
It’s important to always recognize your own biases and expectations. You may have a preconceived notion of what a meaningful conversation or experience should look like, and you may dismiss anything that does not fit your criteria. However, this can lead to missing out on the subtle nuances and insights that can be found in any situation. Instead of judging others for being shallow or boring, try to listen with curiosity and empathy. You may discover something new or surprising about them or yourself.
You cannot control how other people think, feel, or behave, nor can you force them to share your interests or values. Trying to do so will only create frustration and resentment. Rather than resisting or rejecting what is, try to embrace it with openness and gratitude. You may find that there is beauty and meaning in the mundane and ordinary aspects of life.
Know that nothing can stop you from acting in alignment with your purpose and values. You may not be able to change the world or the people around you, but you can change yourself and how you respond to them. You can choose to engage in activities and pursuits that are meaningful and fulfilling to you, regardless of how others perceive them. You can also choose to express yourself authentically and respectfully, without compromising your integrity or dignity.
Establish Effective Filters for Information Entering Your Mind
It is difficult to determine what information and inputs produce negative outcomes in our minds and in our actions. Information that feels good to consume may influence you to act in ways that produce negative outcomes. Maintaining a keen sense of the results that the things that your mind consumes bring about is critical in developing a filter that produces long term, positive results.
A good start is to question the sources and motives of any content and its creators. Many online influencers and media outlets have a vested interest in capturing your attention and influencing your behavior. They may use sensationalism, clickbait, or emotional manipulation to achieve their goals. You should be wary of such tactics and seek out more reliable and trustworthy sources of information that are based on facts, evidence, and logic.
Quantity is also a metric that you should keep an eye on. Our minds can only process a finite amount of information at a time, and too much information can lead to overload, confusion, and stress. These effects are seldom noticeable until they lead to bad decisions and improper actions. You should prioritize quality over quantity and focus on the information that is relevant, useful, and meaningful to you and your immediate surroundings.
Constant reflection on the impact and value of the information that you consume pays dividends as well. Try not to passively accept or reject information without thinking critically about it. Evaluate the information based on its accuracy, validity, relevance, and usefulness. Also consider how the information affects your emotions, thoughts, beliefs, and actions. Do not shy from information that challenges you to grow, learn, and improve yourself.
A realization that meaning is hard to find and even harder to share with others can encourage a bitter outlook on social interactions.
Bitterness is a form of resentment that can poison your relationships and your own well-being. It can make you cynical, distrustful, and unhappy. Bitterness can also prevent you from finding meaning in your life, as you may become too focused on what you lack or what others have that you don’t.
Practice forgiveness as a first step to refusing bitterness. Forgiveness does not mean condoning or forgetting the wrongs done to you, but rather letting go of the anger and hurt that hold you back. It is a powerful tool to take control of external events when there seemingly is no way to control the words, actions, and behaviors of others.
Another way to refuse bitterness is to practice patience with things you don’t want to hear or others’ tendencies that discourage meaningful conversations. Know that the trek toward more meaningful conversations and deeper connection involves allowing others to make mistakes and to take missteps toward that greater goal. Should you pick apart every nuance of your interaction with them, you will risk getting to know them further and establishing a meaningful connection.
Refusing bitterness is not only beneficial for your own well-being, but also for the quality of your interactions with others. When you are not bitter, you are more likely to be open, curious, and empathetic towards others. You are also more likely to attract people who share your values and interests, and who can enrich your life with their perspectives and experiences.
Seek To Not Infect Others With Your Pain
We often resort to sharing our pain with our closest friends and relatives. Simply talking to someone else about a problem can be of tremendous help and this behavior is healthy for you to partake in.
There are times however, where the pain we feel manifests itself as transmissible – seeking to infect those who’ve opened their mind to be influenced by ours. Be cautious of behaviors rooted in pain that cause pain to others; whether it be emotional, psychological, or physical.
This outlet for the pain we feel often feels justified and is difficult to catch in the moment. However, the opposite result of deeper meaning and connection is attained when you infect others with the pain that you feel about being misunderstood.
Some examples of pain-inflicting behaviors are gossiping, criticizing, blaming, shaming, and judging. These actions may seem harmless or even satisfying in the moment, but they can create a negative cycle of resentment and bitterness that erodes the quality of your relationships and your sense of meaning.
Give Gratitude to What You Value
Gratefulness is a misunderstood and underrated state of mind. Similar to forgiveness, there are some who assume gratefulness to be akin to contentment or comfort; to be okay with progress and not strive further. However, gratefulness enables progress and further achievement by infusing your outlook with long-lasting purpose and beauty.
Being grateful for what you value does not mean ignoring the flaws or challenges that come with it. It means acknowledging the positive aspects of your life and appreciating them for what they are. Gratefulness can help you find meaning in the mundane and the ordinary, as well as in the extraordinary and the exceptional. Gratefulness can also inspire you to share your values with others and to contribute to the common good.
One way to practice gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal. A gratitude journal is a simple tool that allows you to write down what you are thankful for on a regular basis. You can write about anything that makes you happy, such as a person, a place, an experience, a skill, a hobby, or a goal. Writing down your gratitude can help you focus on the positive aspects of your life and reduce stress and negativity.
Another way to practice gratefulness is to express it to others. You can show your appreciation to the people who matter to you by saying thank you, giving compliments, writing notes, or doing favors. You can also show your gratitude to the world by volunteering, donating, or supporting causes that align with your values. Expressing your gratitude can strengthen your relationships and make you feel more connected and fulfilled.
Respect Experience and Submit to It
Meaning in the mundane is difficult to discover when you hold yourself as the authority above others on every topic. An excruciating amount of burden is placed on the shoulders of those who don’t submit to the more experienced and learn from them. A feeling of extreme responsibility over every little issue in life can quickly become overwhelming. Refusing to turn to the more experienced for help and advice can encourage you on a path toward a dark place.
Seek out mentors who have achieved what you aspire to. Mentors can provide valuable guidance, feedback, and support that can help you avoid common pitfalls and accelerate your progress. They can also challenge you to grow and improve yourself in ways that you may not have considered before.
Be humble and curious when interacting with others. Everyone has something to teach you, even if they are not experts in your field or share your interests. By asking questions, listening actively, and showing appreciation, you can learn from their perspectives and insights. You can also build rapport and trust with them, which can lead to deeper and more meaningful connections.
Finally, embrace uncertainty and ambiguity as opportunities for learning and growth. Rather than avoiding or resisting situations that are unfamiliar or complex, you can approach them with an open mind and a willingness to experiment. You can also seek feedback from others who have faced similar challenges or have relevant knowledge. By doing so, you can discover new possibilities and solutions that can enrich your life.
Commit More Energy to Action Rather Than Plans
Paralysis by analysis is effective at stagnating progress and establishing a pessimistic outlook. Perfectionists suffer from never being able to dot every i and cross every t, thereby falling into a perpetual state of anxiety and stress over outcomes.
Meaningful experiences rely heavily on the randomness that life has to offer and which a human mind simply cannot solve.
One way to overcome paralysis by analysis is to adopt a mindset of experimentation. Rather than trying to plan everything in advance and anticipate every possible outcome, you can treat your actions as experiments that allow you to learn from feedback and adjust accordingly. This way, you can avoid getting stuck in endless loops of thinking and procrastination, and instead embrace the uncertainty and serendipity that life offers.
Another way to find meaning in action is to align your actions with your values and purpose. Instead of chasing external rewards or validation, you can focus on what matters to you and what gives you a sense of fulfillment and contribution. By doing so, you can create a deeper connection with yourself and others, and find joy in the process rather than the outcome.
Finally, try seeking out challenges and opportunities for growth. Rather than settling for the status quo or avoiding discomfort, you can pursue goals that stretch your abilities and push you out of your comfort zone. By doing so, you can discover new aspects of yourself and the world, and experience a sense of achievement and mastery.
Don’t Fear Personalizing Your Path Forward
As you get comfortable with planning less and acting more, you’ll notice your interests and values nudge your actions in particular directions. Extraneous pressures can often put a barrier and cultivate hesitation when following our authentic interests.
Personalization means tailoring your experiences to suit your preferences and goals, rather than conforming to external expectations or norms. Personalization can help you find meaning in everyday life by allowing you to express yourself, pursue your passions, and connect with like-minded people.
Personalization does not mean isolating yourself from others or rejecting feedback. It means being selective about what you consume, create, and share. It means being mindful of how your choices affect your well-being and happiness. It means being open to new possibilities and opportunities that align with your values and interests.
Personalization can also help you cope with the challenges and uncertainties of life. By personalizing your path forward, you can focus on what matters most to you, rather than worrying about what others think or do. You can also adapt to changing circumstances and learn from your mistakes, rather than feeling stuck or discouraged when you realize that external pressures led you down a path of inauthenticity.
Know That Regret Is an Option
There can be a tendency to feel as though years have been wasted on the mundane and the shallow. Especially as the young see youth slipping through their fingers, they can fall into a trap of regretting how they spent their time.
Understanding that regret is a completely controllable emotion is important to moving forward onto things that will minimize that same emotion. Similar to perfectionism, regret plays off the unattainable desire of getting things exactly right as the goalposts move.
One way to combat regret is to adopt a growth mindset, which views failures and mistakes as opportunities to learn and improve. A growth mindset helps you appreciate the journey rather than the destination, and to value the process rather than the outcome. By focusing on what you can learn from each experience, you can avoid dwelling on what could have been or should have been.
Overcome regret by reframing the past experiences as learning opportunities rather than mistakes. Instead of dwelling on what could have been done differently, focus on what can be done better in the future. This way, regret becomes a catalyst for growth and improvement rather than a source of guilt and shame.
Seek forgiveness from yourself and others who may have been hurt by one’s actions or inactions. Instead of holding on to anger and bitterness, release the negative emotions and heal the wounds that may have been inflicted. This way, regret becomes a process of reconciliation and restoration rather than a barrier to happiness and peace.
Compete Only With Yourself
One of the best ways to achieve your goals is to stop comparing yourself to others and focus on your own progress. Competing with others can be demotivating, stressful and unhealthy. It can also make you lose sight of what really matters to you and what makes you happy.
Competing only with yourself means setting realistic and challenging goals that are based on your own abilities and interests, not on what others are doing or achieving. By competing with yourself, you can track your own improvement, celebrate your own successes and learn from your own mistakes. You can also avoid the trap of feeling inferior or superior to others, which can damage your self-esteem and relationships.
Competing with yourself can also help you develop a growth mindset, which is the belief that you can improve your skills and abilities through effort and feedback. A growth mindset allows you to embrace challenges, seek feedback and learn from failures. It also enables you to appreciate the achievements of others without feeling threatened or jealous. A growth mindset can boost your motivation, performance and happiness.