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Aspirations, Interests, & Goals – Part 5 – The Meaning of Life

The Meaning of Life

What is the meaning of life? Is there a meaning of life? Many people have tried to answer these questions. A better question is, what is the meaning of your life? Life has whatever meaning you choose to give it. No one else can find your meaning or purpose in life. Your parents, teachers, friends, or mentors can only suggest your purpose, but only you can find it for yourself. The journey of finding your purpose in life is part of what brings meaning to your life. Your purpose keeps you striving for better and curious about the future.

Your sense of meaning in life cannot depend on others. If you depend on others, it is not personally meaningful to you. If you depend on your kids to give your life purpose, what happens when they no longer need you? When you find meaning in a group or event, you are allowing others to dictate what is meaningful to you. The real meaning in our lives comes from the personal aspirations that keep us curious about life. You can join others who have common interests, but always maintain your personal aspirations meaningful to you.

A “higher” purpose is not as meaningful as a personal purpose. Humans have developed past surviving and flourishing. These goals are not personally meaningful. We need individual goals and purposes for interacting with other people. You will find your purpose by examining your experiences, interactions, abilities, and interests. If your purpose does not include caring for others, it will not last. A “higher” purpose is impersonal, unrealistic, and imposed upon you from another person or group. It is a one-size-fits-all purpose too general to connect with individuals. Your purpose in life is as individual as the humans inhabiting the Earth.

Accepting reality is integral to finding your purpose. Your experiences, interactions, abilities, and interests will all influence your purpose or meaning in life. If your purpose is not realistic, it will not last or be meaningful. Other people will see your purpose in life through your actions and behaviors. Much of our purpose comes from caring about others. Our purpose must allow us to learn, grow, and change as people. We should not base it on a singular experience or event. Your purpose will give you a sense of accomplishment at the end of your life and avoid regrets.

Aspirations, Interests, & Goals – Part 4 – Our Goals

Our Goals

The most important part of a goal is not the accomplishment of the goal, but the time spent achieving the goal. Your goal before you start it will change when you are close to finishing it. Most people have goals related to money. They can involve getting a better job, buying better things, or gaining more power. When you accomplish these goals, you often move to higher quantity goals. Having general goals will help you accomplish more goals. When we have goals that are too specific, we often ignore the realities involved in them. Realistic goals are the best goals. A helpful goal is one allowing you to devote time to improve yourself and your environment. Instead of saying you want to run a marathon in a year, tell yourself to jog tomorrow morning. The time you spend can be short on the first day. It will get longer over time until you are spending enough time to run a marathon. The original goal should be to spend time in an activity. The activity is the goal followed by developing a routine involving that activity. Self improvement is always a worthy goal. Some things can impede our goals such as boredom, mental or physical problems, or letting failure allow us to quit. The activity involved in the goal should be something that interests you. It should not stress you out or let false steps take you away from it. You can tell people you are spending more time doing a certain activity, but do not tell them your goal is to achieve a certain accomplishment. You may have an achievement goal for yourself, but telling others will not help you achieve the goal. Your goal is to better yourself at a certain activity. The more time goes by, the better you will become at it and the more inner goals you will accomplish. The dream job people picture for themselves as a child is rarely the job they do for a living. They may get the dream job, but the reality does not live up to the dream. If you still find your job interesting after years, it was your dream job. When I was a kid, I dreamed of becoming an animator. Later, I found animating was just one thing I wanted to do. I also became interested in writing, acting, music, and editing. The jobs incorporating more of my interests became my dream jobs. It is unhelpful to set a goal of attaining a dream job. We need goals of having interesting jobs. You will have found your dream jobs when you can do what interests you most of your life. Multiple goals are better than singular goals. If a singular goal does not come to fruition, you cannot accomplish an alternate goal. The more goals you have, the better. Being the best at something is not a proper goal because it is not realistic. It is too simplistic and depends on uncontrollable factors. Most of the people who are the best at something sacrificed the rest of their life for that singular goal. Having multiple goals that change over time will ensure you accomplish many goals in your life. Failing at a goal is only a singular unattained accomplishment. The problem is not the failing, but the goal. Goals based on winning or losing are not realistic goals. If you are in a competition, the goal in your mind is to win. You do not have to state it as a goal. Especially if your goal is a onetime winning of a specific event, odds are you will lose. If you enjoy the competition, winning or losing will not matter. Your goal should be to take part in the competition, not winning the competition. We should be proud of people’s journeys toward a goal, not their successes. Your goals should be general rather than specific. If you set a specific number on a goal such as losing weight, you will feel as if you failed if you only come close. General goals of improving your skills or gaining knowledge are attainable goals. A general goal is to get where you want to go. A more specific goal is to get there as quickly as possible. I have general goals of avoiding stress, being happy, and staying reasonably safe. Rushing through life goes against my goals. People speed through life because they set specific goals of arriving somewhere at a specific time without accepting the reality of barriers that will get in their way. They blame the barriers for making them late instead of their unrealistic goals. Limits create barriers to unrealistic goals. The barriers will set limits to allow us a realistic view of our goals. Accepting the limits of our goals is important to accomplishing the goals. Denying the limits will hamper our ability to accomplish them. We cannot solve problems in accomplishing the goals because we did not accept their limits. These limits and barriers may appear discouraging, but they will assist us with the goals. The more limits we accept, the more realistic the chances of accomplishing our goals. Bucket lists and New Year’s resolutions are not proper goals. Realistic New Year’s resolutions are actions you intend to take in the next year. The goal is taking actions, not accomplishing specific goals. A bucket list is a list of things we want to do, learn, or experience before we die. We write this dream list when we are young and forget about them later in life. Our dreams may change, but the list stays the same. Unless we are the same person our entire lives, the list will quickly be irrelevant. The more general our bucket list or New Year’s resolutions, the more likely we will be to accomplish them. Self-centered goals are goals only benefiting one person. The goals may affect others negatively or simply not benefit them. Our goals should always be beneficial to other people. Other people do not have an incentive to help you accomplish your goals if they only benefit you or affect them negatively. If we have a goal that benefits others, we will be more likely to accomplish the goal because we will have help. Goals that benefit others will benefit you more than self-centered goals. Your goals should interest you, be realistic, diverse, general, and should benefit others. Goals that are too specific will most likely fail. We should see our goals as intended actions. We plan and execute goals to improve our lives. If our goals detract from our happiness or health, they will not improve our lives. Goals do not have to be easy, but we should base them on controllable factors. Setting a goal to win an award depends on too many factors outside our control. Goals should build into other goals. Accomplishing goals is about knowing what will truly make us happy when we accomplish them.

Aspirations, Interests, & Goals – Part 3 – Interests Lead to Skills

Interests Lead to Skills

Skills relate directly to curiosity and interest. If you are interested in a subject, you will develop your knowledge and skills in it. You may not be the most skilled at it, but you will be more skilled than someone who has no interest in it. Your interest will help you learn the automatic skills involved in it. You know you are skilled at something when you do not have to think about it. The more you do it, the more complex your skills become. If you lose interest in a subject, you will eventually lose the skills involved in it.

People who are told what skills to develop without being interested in a subject will eventually lose the skill. You will forget things others force you to learn. Math is a subject in school most students find uninteresting. More students would be interested in math if it involved diverse subjects of interest to them. It will not interest students to learn about equations unrelated to their lives. Finding out the interests of the students will allow teachers to incorporate math into those interests. Math skills will become automatic to students only if they are interested in math. Making lessons interesting to all the students will raise their skills and build their interest to learn more.

Did curiosity kill the cat? Cats are much more focused on their environment than most humans, so curiosity has hardly ever killed a cat. We created the phrase to keep people from being too curious or asking questions. People who are not curious dislike learning. Cats are endlessly fascinating because they are endlessly curious. People who are curious are far more interesting than those who are not. Curiosity probably saved more cats than killed them. I am a cat person, which means I am interested in cats. Cats are safe around me because I am interested and aware of them just as much as they are interested and aware of me.

Some people have skills that develop into hobbies, and others use their skills in a career. Before you make your hobbies into a career, consider the interests of the employer. Do they want you for your skills or your future management potential? Management skills focus on dealing with people and handling problems. They make more money than most employees because they have more responsibilities. If you enjoy problem solving and the added responsibility, you may be happy as a manager. If you enjoy doing something you are skilled at, continue using those skills in your hobbies. Keeping your interest in life and being happy is more important than making more money.

People can be skilled at denying reality. This negative skill will not serve them well in life. Compulsive liars are skilled at lying, but they will quickly lie their way out of all their relationships. When you cannot trust others, you do not want them in your life. People who develop reality denying skills are avoiding specific realities. These skills become automatic. Alcoholics, drug addicts, abusers, molesters, thieves, and other people who go well beyond inappropriate behavior are skilled at justifying their behavior to themselves. They only regret their behavior when they get caught. It is best to avoid these people if you come across them.

Aspirations, Interests, & Goals – Part 2 – Interests & Passions

Interests & Passions

You should always have multiple interests and passions. If you only have one passion in life, what happens when you lose interest in it? I have always had multiple interests. Some people told me I needed to focus on only one interest or I would not master it. If we master our passions, we will probably lose interest in them. Being interested in something is a never-ending process of discovery. Mastering something ends that discovery. If you are passionate about something, there is no mastery of it. When you think you have mastered it, you have merely lost interest in learning about it.

At various times in my life, I have been passionate about drawing, tigers, magic, animation, fantasy, music, acting, comedy, writing, juggling, riding a unicycle, editing, exercising, model trains, swimming, composing, atheism, and reality. This is not an exhaustive list of all my interests. I have moved on from many of these passions and have replaced them with other passions. One of my current passions is writing this book. By the time you read it, I will probably have moved on to something else. The day I stop seeking new interests and passions is the day I have given up on life.

Finding others who share your interests is an important part for making friends. We often choose our friends based on our common interests. People who find it difficult to socialize can use common interests as a bridge for communicating with others. They can focus on the interest and not themselves. Sometimes starting a conversation about your interests is enough to start a friendship. Even if you find you have little else in common with the other person, you have one thing connecting you to them. You may lose the friendship if your interest in the subject goes away. Your new interests will bring new friendships.

Aspirations, Interests, & Goals – Part 1 – Life Aspirations

Life Aspirations

Over the next few weeks, I will present a 5 part series of articles about aspirations, interests, and goals and their effect on our health. They come from a chapter that I took out my book Reality Acceptance: For Happier and Healthier Lives. I removed them only to reduce the word count of the book, but am glad I can present them in this series of articles. If you enjoy them, please sign up for the Reality Acceptance newsletter here.

Having aspirations is important to your health. You are not taking an active role in your life if you do not aspire to future goals and interests. Just living life will not lead to a satisfying life. Many people regret not living true to themselves at the end of their life. Instead of pursuing interests, goals, or aspirations of their own, they allowed others to dictate how they lived their lives. Aspirations are just as important as any other healthy choices you make. A lack of aspirations will lower the quality of your life.

We ask kids what they want to do when they grow up. Most people forget these aspirational goals in adulthood. Our aspirations will change throughout our lives, but we should never stop having them. Becoming an adult does not mean the end of pursuing our interests and goals. We may need to change them to allow others to pursue their own aspirations, but we should never give up on them. Adults who abandon their aspirations are not just abandoning their childhoods, they are abandoning a happy and healthy life.

Many people confuse needing something with wanting something. A need for something implies an untold consequence will befall you if you do not get it. A want is something you desire, but it will only disappoint you to not have it. Breathing is a need, but ice cream is a want. You will not lose weight unless you tell yourself you need to lose weight. There is no weight loss fairy to grant your weight loss wishes. You must turn your wants to needs and accept the reality of what you need to do. We do not want to pursue our aspirations; we need to pursue them.

Goodreads Giveaway Starting August 10th for the Reality Acceptance Book

I have a giveaway on Goodreads starting on Tuesday, August 10th, for my book Reality Acceptance: For Happier and Healthier Lives. For more information, click on the link below. Reality!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Reality Acceptance by Brian Kirwan

Reality Acceptance

by Brian Kirwan

Giveaway ends August 23, 2021. See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
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Reality Acceptance: For Happier and Healthier Lives Book

Reality Acceptance: For Happier and Healthier Lives is now available on Amazon.

Reality Acceptance: For Happier and Healthier Lives

Reality Acceptance: For Happier and Healthier Lives – Kindle edition by Kirwan, Brian. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Use features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting while reading Reality Acceptance: For Happier and Healthier Lives.

 

The History of Reality Denial

Reality denial exists all over the world. We deny realities long proven true with evidence from multiple sources. Our beliefs shield us from realities we find unpleasant or confusing. We deny global warming despite an overwhelming amount of evidence from around the world. The more time marches on, the more absurd our denial becomes. We could excuse people thousands of years ago for denying realities most people did not understand, but we are being openly ignorant if we still deny these basic realities today.

Believing in something does not make it real. Our beliefs are temporary assumptions about the world. We base them on our experiences with the world and other people. No baby has ever been born believing anything about the world. They are a blank slate. Luckily, we have other people looking after us. They keep us alive until we become conscious of the world. We gather beliefs from our parents, mentors, and teachers. Accepting reality is impossible if we only learn about other people’s beliefs and not reality.

You do not have to believe in your need for food. Your stomach feels hunger and you know to eat. Your beliefs guide you toward what you eat. If we allow our children to choose what they eat, they will probably only choose things that taste good to them. Most of these foods will be high in sugar, calories, and salt because our palates are not sophisticated when we are young. We believe what we eat only needs to taste good. When we are older, we learn about nutrition, but still eat mainly good tasting non-nutritious food. Our beliefs allow us to ignore the damage we are doing to our bodies. We believe we no longer can control what we eat.

The history of reality denial has many origins. The earliest and most influential beliefs most people had were their religious beliefs. Of all religions, Christianity in all its forms tops the list of most influential around the world. As science emerged, scientists exposed religions as denying many fundamental realities. Many religions, especially Christianity, fought to hold on to their beliefs (and their followers) using racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination. All these forms of discrimination existing today can trace their roots to the religious discriminatory practices of the past.

The reality denial of the past led to many negative concepts people believed were real. The concept of good and evil led to concepts of winning and losing, simplistic this or that thinking, heroes and villains, moral and immoral behavior, us versus them thinking, and other reality denying concepts. These concepts led to most forms of discrimination we see today. We label things such as racism as the problem. The problem is our beliefs that began these racist behaviors. Race is a non-scientific concept born from racist beliefs. Eugenics was one of the worst forms of discrimination stemming from these beliefs.

The only way we can get away from these negative beliefs is to value our knowledge over our beliefs. We base all our beliefs on ignorance because, once you learn the reality of what you believe, they are no longer beliefs. They are knowledge. Most societies around the world continue to base many of their laws on beliefs rather than reality. Basing our laws on reality means we only create laws that solve actual problems for all of a society. We need to stop valuing people’s beliefs about reality. Until we do this, reality denial will continue.

Fellow White Men, We Need to Talk

My first video called Fellow White Men, We Need to Talk for Reality Acceptance is now on YouTube. I learned many things in making it, and my future videos will be even better. With the recent events happening in the Capitol, this is a message that needs to be heard by everyone, but especially white men who think their horrible behavior is acceptable in 2021.

As always, your feedback is highly welcome. Reality!

The Reality of 2020

The pandemic has forced people to confront realities like never before. Marginalized groups have had to confront the realities of discrimination throughout history, but the pandemic has forced people to confront realities they did not have to accept in the past. Their money, power, and privilege are not enough to allow them to live the way their privilege accustomed them to living. This is a global event that is forcing everyone to accept the reality of the pandemic. No amount of ignoring or denying can hide us from it. It is a reality.

People who deny the reality of the pandemic will go down in history as absurd and unfortunate victims of their own ignorance. Many will die and they will take others with them. Their beliefs are betraying them at the expense of their lives. Most people are accepting the reality of the pandemic because they have no choice. Some people are using the pandemic as an excuse to deny other realities. They are distancing themselves from others, wearing masks, and washing their hands, but they are not accepting the reality of their mental health. The pandemic is a worldwide mental health problem we will continue dealing with long after we have dealt with the physical health problems.

The pandemic is happening as much of the world was trying to separate themselves from other parts of the world. Reality denying events such as Brexit, the Trump presidency, and police brutality allowed people in power to discriminate and separate themselves from large groups of people they hated. Hate is not something happy and healthy people feel. To accept hate is to deny reality. People who hate others cannot hate the pandemic away from themselves or their families. They are taking their frustrations out on other people, but more and more people are no longer accepting their hate.

Black Lives Matter, Me Too, and other anti-hate movements are forcing people in power to accept realities we long denied throughout history. Because we have historically accepted discrimination does not mean we must continue to accept it. Continuing to deny realities most people accept shows how far humanity has come and how far we still have to go. We cannot accept the reality of the pandemic and ignore other realities. My greatest hope is the pandemic will trigger a reality acceptance movement around the globe.

I have seen many memes wishing for 2020 to end so we can get back to our regular lives. 2020 will not end the pandemic or the other realities we have not accepted. We can see it as a tragic year or we can accept it as a year of wake-up calls for all of us. This is only the beginning of our reality acceptance journey. We need to realize we are the people in power. The hateful people trying to separate us cannot hide from those they hate any more. Discrimination has never been acceptable, but it is only now many people are recognizing this reality. 2020 can be the year of reality acceptance. Accepting reality is about understanding reality as it is so we can fix problems and change things for the better. We cannot hope for change to happen, we must make it happen.

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