He said little, but one phrase he did repeat more than any other was simple: "Any day you're breathing is a good day." To him, every day, every year, every one of the six decades past 1944 was a cherry on top gift.
Growing up in the 1970s in the United States, conducting nuclear attack drills with regularity, many of us felt that it was fairly likely that we would be incinerated before our 21st birthdays.
"Every day you're breathing is a good day."
There are certainly limits to these 8 simple words, but radical gratitude is at their core.
It's quite likely that everybody reading this post is having a FAR better life than 99.9% of every other human being who exists and has ever existed.
I'm a generally happy person because, from a young age, I have chosen to focus on that simple truth.
This perspective need not lead to complacence. Those who know me will say that I've always been a driven person, personally and professionally.
Every day you're breathing is a good day. Thanks, grandpa, for the wise words. He would have celebrated his 100th birthday last month.
My father, B-17 navigator, said he accepted that he was going to die in combat. The odds at the time of surviving were terrible (about 80% casualties).
He did survive (hence my existence), and told me that whenever he felt down about something he'd remember his buddies who died in the war and how he'd been given a chance to live through it, and he'd re-appreciate his life.
Upon his return to the states, the crews were led to tables to eat. There was nothing to order, the staff assured them "we know what you want." Sure enough, they did - steak, eggs, tomatoes, etc.
Upon return to civilian life, he said he was astounded by the triviality of peoples' everyday life concerns. They were going to live another day, what did they have to be concerned about?
I'm not trying to discount your point that you should have some gratitude or put things in perspective but happiness requires much more than just not dying. If nothing else your father had a wife and you as other hopefully joys in his life. Some people have no one.
> happiness requires much more than just not dying
Probably not for the people who don't have just the hypothetical appreciation of being alive but actually "cheated" death when it was all but certain.
Perhaps the key to a well-adjusted view of life is trauma? To show you how good the rest of life can be.
The experiences give you the resolve or clues or whatever to avoid bad choices, or appreciate good ones. Or help others understand (if they're receptive).
My grandfather was a teenager during WW2. He was a Polish Jew and lucky to have seen the writing on the wall and fled eastwards when the Nazis invaded (almost the entire rest of his large family died in the holocaust - his only living relative was his brother, who died as a soldier in 1948 in the Israeli war of independence).
He had a horrible time during the war but eventually found safety as a refugee in the soviet union (after they put him to 2 years of forced labor in a coal mine). He met my grandmother in the Ukraine & together they fled to Uzbekistan where my mother was born a few months after the end of the war.
He used to say that during those time he fantasied about owning/operating a flour mill after the war, so that he could always bake bread and never be hungry.
He had a psychotic episode in the 70s and was put on medication that he continued taking his entire life afterwards. He was a deeply harsh, grumpy & unhappy person the entire time I knew him (roughly the last 20 years of his life). According to what my mother told me about her & my uncle's upbringing he would also be considered a terrible father these days (due to his own emotional/psychic state no doubt).
So I would personally put a strong recommendation against experiencing extreme hardships in order to "build character" - I rather my character remain unbuilt than experience war, genocide & forced labor camps.
For example, being a navigator, my father sat up front behind the bombardier. There's a plexiglass hemisphere in the nose. The Me-109's favorite attack plan was the head on attack (because the B-17's had a gap in coverage in the front). He said you can see the cannon flash as they fired at him (usually aiming for the pilots, who were right behind my father's position, thinking "how can they miss".
What would you do in such a situation? Nobody can tell in advance.
It seems obvious that living and pushing through real hardships can have highly variable impacts on people, depending on the person and the circumstances.
I suspect that one element that makes such experiences more likely to provide positive long-term impacts is perceived or real personal agency during the events in question.
If, during the difficult times, a person feels like they have some material influence over the outcome, and then the outcome is neutral or good, then it's more likely that the whole mess will end up being a net positive life influence.
What do you think?
If you want to appreciate food, then perform a fast.
If you want to appreciate rest, then exhaust yourself through exercise.
If you want to appreciate life, then approach the doors of death and return.
If you want to appreciate bliss, then walk through suffering.
There is suffering on an immense scale daily.
* Warning - Following is Graphic not for sensitive people *
For example I read from the comfort of my bed last night that a beekeeper just lost practically everything in Australia and when fires ripped through his property, to add insult to injury, when he went into the Forrest, all he could hear was a choir of moaning, wounded or dying animals. Koalas, kangaroos etc.
One can easily be grateful this day they didn’t experience something this catastrophic and that you’re not one of those animals. You can also realise one day you might be, so while your ok, make the most of it.
Link to the story, again it’s not for the sensitive: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-11-20/beekeepers-traumatise...
I didn’t mean it to be condescending at all, I genuinely found that story super disturbing and I didn’t want to put others through it unless they wanted to be put through it.
The scene the guy is describing real sounds like an apocalyptic hellscape, if you’re not somewhat disturbed by it, then I’m not sure what to say.
It is just that this view seems to be gaining popularity and I don't get it. Being disturbed by something is an emotion and emotions serve to orient us. They are useful - both pleasant and unpleasant. Filtering out unpleasant emotions is like wearing glasses that only let you see things you like - why would anyone want that? Do you believe this is a good thing?
And BTW, if you find that article disturbing, I would really like to know what would you think about things like reading The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell... or visiting Auschwitz?
Therefore I feel some will find this article disturbing because humans and many living beings have suffered horrible deaths in what I’d call unnatural ways (fire isn’t new to these animals, the intensity of the fires is). It’s also a glimpse of more very tragic times ahead.
I put a link to the article and a warning, what do you find so concerning about it ? Maybe people don’t read hacker news to feel like shit? Maybe some people are reading who have been directly affected too. So I gave people the option to skip that article and the details if they weren’t in the mood for it right now Who cares? I just wanted to give people the choice.
I agree with your point about good and bad emotions. I mean, I read the article in the first place.
If you have trouble seeing why some would find a forest full of crying animals who has been partially burned to death sad or troubling with more to come, maybe you’re someone who has trouble feeling empathy? Which is ok, but you would have trouble understanding people that might.
By the way, I am from Earth, just like you. I don’t see how that question was relevant.
I have no trouble seeing why some would find it troubling - what I do not get is why you would think this is a reason to put there the warning. You say it yourself - we are going to have a lot of problems. Shouldn't you encourage people to face them? Is it not a good thing to be disturbed by disturbing things? What is better - that people face the hard truths or that they cover their eyes in front of them? This is what bugs me on those warnings - that I perceive them as making our society more fragile and less able to handle the problems. There is such a thing as too much sensitivity. Coddling is not good for us.
People seeing disturbing things won’t just stop climate change.
Ignorance and psychopathic behaviour has slowed progress, not empathy and concern.
When you see someone very close to you dying, the finality of it becomes very very real.
Same with most other tragedies I'd think.
They are not.
Essentially, being shot at changes you.
Agreed. Assuming you're someone who is in this club, may I ask: do you think there's a material difference between being shot at in a military sense (for both, say, proper battles as well as what our people were subject to in Iraq, 2003 and later) and being shot at in the city sense (random drive-bys, verbal altercations turning into gunfire) ? Thanks for your consideration.
I'm not, hence I'm not fit to answer your question. I've been robbed at gunpoint, but the thief wasn't trying to kill me. It does still set my teeth on edge when someone comes up behind me.
When people would greet my dad with "hey, how are you doing?" he'd often reply "shot at and missed".
My father was a healthy, fit, active guy who suffered from a bit of acid reflux which turned into esophageal cancer which claimed his life at 46. I was in my early twenties and just starting my career when that happened. I'm 44 now, and that experience has shaped my approach to life and it's been both a good and bad thing. On one hand, it's made me live more in the now and not for a distant future. On the other hand, I experience guilt when I don't take advantage of every day I have.
If his biology allows him to trudge on, to always see the silver lining, how can you call this wisdom? Some people have a lower tolerance for suffering. Some people do not find life worth living, maybe for biological reasons.
The reason I don't call this wisdom is because for many or most people, this is not an idea that can be realized through words or knowledge alone.
I don't need someone to tell me to be happy. I need the ability to be happy.
How hard is it to decide to be in a good mood
And then just be in a good mood?
That's all I have to say because it's a straight up fact
You control your emotions it's as simple as that
The path to happiness can be complex one, but there are myriads of possible, non-guaranteed routes - exercise, meditation, yoga, drugs legal or not, backpacking in 3rd world, fulfilling jobs, good relationships, kids, etc. Even trying will take you on a path to be a better, more balanced human being.
Nobody will ever 'give you ability to be happy'. Either you will reach it yourself, in your own unique way, or you won't.
But damn...things were fucking terrible in a lot of other parts of the world during that time. And more importantly, such terrible times existed, all over the world, going back forever.
Don't forget the Stallinist terror (innocent people dying in concentration camps).
EDIT: why the downvote? Wikipedia estimate for the victims of The Purge is at 600k-1.2m level (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Purge), certainly enough to make a dent in the stats.
my grand father was a resistance veteran back from WWII in Europe. He didn't talk much about it except to express the famine and misery they went through those years. He had it rough, lost his first wife young and just about everything.
He never told me how to be or who to be, or what to think, he just was content to have me around, grateful for everything.
Later in life, he became blind for many years, and just kept trucking along, not the complainer type. Always keeping it light-hearted basically, humouring and never judging, just caring deeply for others but himself, never wanting to be in the way of anyone, even the people paid to help him.
He is to this day my biggest inspiration.
My parents survived a genocide in their home countries. One parent commonly says things like "God has a plan". It is the same thing: a soundbite, and not a one-size-fits-all way to live your life.
It's been my experience that people who are unhappy or discontent try to "persevere" with trite mantra like "Every day you're breathing is a good day.".
My father used to say that a lot like your grandfather. And I suspect, like my father, your grandfather was dissatisfied and unhappy. He, like my father who fought in vietnam, probably also suffered through PTSD for his entire life from the horrible things he saw and did in war.
Honestly, if the only thing you can be grateful for is "breathing", then you might as well be a plant.
During the happiest times in my life, I've never even thought to say "Every day you're breathing is a good day.". It was only during the unhappy times in my life, that you have to resort to such quotes and mantra.
> Honestly, if the only thing you can be grateful for is "breathing", then you might as well be a plant.
What a weird time to be alive - apparently there is a minimum inescapable standard of what I (or anyone else) can be grateful for.
I suspect there are some (fairly reasonable) assumptions behind your assessment here.
First, my grandfather didn't say much at all. He was quiet and reserved, with only a few friends. He said "...breathing is a good day.", perhaps eight or ten times in the 18 years I lived with him, and the following 15 years I'd visit. And it was always in response to me or someone else complaining about trivial stuff.
To be clear: he wasn't repeating that statement like a mantra.
> Honestly, if the only thing you can be grateful for is "breathing" ...
Far from it; it's a baseline of gratitude, not in any way exclusive.
> During the happiest times in my life, I've never even thought to say "Every day you're breathing is a good day.".
For me as well! And likely my grandfather's perspective as well.
> ...grandfather was dissatisfied and unhappy ... PTSD ...
My grandfather definitely dealt with PTSD for many years, but he was 49 years old when I was born, and there were few signs of it left while I was growing up.
To be clear: my grandfather was far from dissatisfied and unhappy. In simple, straightforward ways, he enjoyed his life, through and through.
Finally, I'll note that I am I just sharing this personal anecdote with the deep understanding that every experience and circumstance is different. It is my hope that your father found or is finding peace.
I think as we focus on mastery or craftsmanship, happiness finds us.
Not everyone, but I'd say modern society is hedonistic—we seek happiness instead of achievement and get neither.
Probably because we've been conditioned (through billions of dollars, spent yearly, on marketing) to believe that happiness comes with the acquisition of certain items, status or experiences.
We've conflated happiness with dopamine rushes and short-lived pleasure, and believe the feeling can be elongated by merely emulating the actions which either provided both or could provide more of both.
Many of us have also altered our lives to support the above mentality - living in densely packed cities with air and sound pollution, or poor commutes, working around the clock, or in chaotic and stressful companies, doing ultimately purposeless or even outright destructive work, with the hopes of gaining more money or more status to fund the above, etc.
Coupled with the increasing social isolation and division, the never-ending outrage we're told to feel over today's new issue, which we as a civilization are going through, it's not hard to see why people are finding it hard to say they're happy.
I agree on the hedonism but I'm not sure the happiness-achievement struggle is as simple. There are plenty of people who have achieved stuff my some metric (fame, wealth, etc.) and are still deeply unhappy
Most of us will not become acclaimed directors like Miyazaki, or renowned sushi chefs like Jiro Ono (Jiro Dreams of Sushi is another documentary in this vein), but in my view, any skilled craftsperson, from a tatami weaver to a software developer, can follow this path. You don't have to be famous, or even best in class, to enjoy a life of mastering the craft that inspires you.
If at anytime we become truly happy this hurts these goals. For example, if an old man could be building a wall or an arsenal of bows an arrows, or inventing a better way to go fishing, his tribe would be more likely to survive. But if he just sat there, content to being alive, this is bad for his offsprings' future.
You could say, well why can't he do these things and be happy at the same time? I can't really explain why not being happy leads to a better outcome for the safety and procreation of society in general, but I would assume that it must serve some purpose in that goal, or the whole concept of it would have been removed by evolution long ago.
So, I think it's better just to resign yourself to the fact, barring using mind altering drugs, that you'll never be much happier than you were on average before, or much sadder, either.
And as far as this 70 yo lady is concerned, I'd bet when this was written she was simply riding the high of accomplishing something, and probably soon crashed back down below her baseline, only to recover back to it sometime later.
I do. I also feel lucky in that while my eyesight and coordination are poor, my interests lie elsewhere so that doesn't impair me.
I have no idea what “human consciousness” is. I'm not deriding you, but I have never heard a satisfactory explanation. I kind of suspect it isn't actually real.
> What does this suggest about people that don't have kids?
There are a lot of species of wild animals that will not procreate in captivity. Take a group of these creature that is adapted to a certain environment and then place them in a completely different environment and they will for some reason lose their will to procreate even though they are physically able to do so.
I think it's the same with human beings. Technology has pushed so far and fast away from how we used to live, some of us, for whatever reason, don't procreate anymore.
How to be a billionaire: Work hard!
How to start a business: Start working, believe in yourself!
Now that I've read OP article, I realize what I've been doing wrong all my life. I had disabled my "fun" switch. Glad someone finally pointed it out. Everything is so much better now, wow! Thank you!
It is hand waving simplicity against the complex reality of biological limitations. Some people simply have more endurance for the suffering of life, better motivation or better opportunity and environment.
I want everyone to live to seek their potential, but there is no answer to finding peace (or happiness) in life.
At least not an answer that can be communicated through words.
I expected the general population of HN to be well trained enough to instantly realize this. I guess it was my fault for tricking myself in believing I could find such a place.
"Conventional wisdom holds that if we work hard we will be more successful, and if we are more successful, then we’ll be happy. If we can just find that great job, win that next promotion, lose those five pounds, happiness will follow. But recent discoveries in the field of positive psychology have shown that this formula is actually backward: Happiness fuels success, not the other way around."
Walking and talking are pretty ancient ways of taking stock and finding new perspectives. Talk to people outside your usual age range and social class. Get out into nature. These things usually help in ways I can't explain very well, but I find them vital to sustainably integrating who I am in here with where I am in the world. In my experience, major health crises of the mental kind tend to be down to this.
Success will not make you happy, this my experience agrees with, but I'm equally sure that happiness will not make one successful.
While happiness doesn't guarantee success, it sure has hell makes it easier to work hard!
The darkest year of my life was sophomore year in college. I wasn't doing well in my classes, so I dropped some hobbies to make more time to study. I got out of shape, gained weight, lost touch w/ my friends, put more pressure on myself to make all of these sacrifices "worth it," and welp – my grades never improved.
The next year, I fell in love w/ this boy.
After what most people call a downward spiral, I essentially fell straight into an upward spiral! Falling in love was (and still is)... inspiring. I got back into shape, rejoined all of the teams and activities I had quit, and also got straight A's in not four, not five, but all six of my classes (at MIT).
Being happy doesn't magically transport you to the finish line, but it certainly makes running the race more enjoyable. As the quote says, happiness is indeed fuel.
And lastly, I don't know if you're proud of yourself for losing so much weight, but you ought to be! When I get out of shape, my goal usually starts out as "I want to feel good in my body." But every time I start the process (and it happens frequently because I'm a bit of a yo-yo-er), I start to get really geeked by the progress. Progress is one of the only things that reliably and consistently makes me happy. (It's the best!!!)
My experience is that if you rely on progress for your emotional wellbeing you will not have a good time. Progress too easily slips backwards or plateaus for long periods of time. It sounds like the kind of ting someone would say during the easy beginning stages of of a thing.
Given that the entire journey is single steps, if you take one step and then beat yourself up because one step is nothing, and tell yourself how much of a loser you are for only moving one step, and how other would people disapprove .. that makes the entire journey thousands of steps where you beat yourself up because each step isn't enough. How are you going to face, and endure, such a miserable journey?
By contrast, if each step is a rewarding piece of progress, which you cheer yourself on for, then (in a recursive sense), the entire journey ahead of you unfolds into thousands of rewarding, cheerful pieces of progress encouraging you forwards.
I myself didn't lose half my bodyweight because I was happy, quite the contrary, I hated --and still hate-- my body.
You've worked hard to go from self-hate to self-hate, through thousands of steps each full of self-hate. What kind of progress is that, really? What kind of life is that? In a fraction of the time and effort you could have gone from self-hate to self-approval, without changing anything except thoughts and without doing anything except thinking.
I'm equally sure that happiness will not make one successful.
If you were happy being fat, what use would you have for "success"? What if you die half way through the journey and never reach the end - is success a goal that only exists at one point in time, and if you don't live long enough, you can't have it? Why not feel happy and successful at every moment of calorie counting, grateful at having the opportunity to buy chicken and salad instead of fried chicken and gravy, happy at the scenery around you when you go out to exercise, instead of filling each moment with self-hate and bitterness and what have you?
If every moment you play a tune, you hate how badly you play, and it drives you to play more precisely, but you hate playing and feel bad afterwards, are you better off or worse off than someone who plays imprecisely, but loves every moment they play and can't wait to play more and feels better afterwards?
When did I ever say to do that? What I'm saying is, if you're so happy, and happiness is so important as people claim, then what motivates you to go through the pain of 10000 steps in the first place?
No, I submit that happiness is at best orthogonal to success.
> You've worked hard to go from self-hate to self-hate
Yes, and now without the comfort of being able to eat a pint of ice cream when I've had a bad day or pick up a pizza on the way home from work, or enjoy a carefree dining experience with friends. Such is life. One must sacrifice to attain goals.
> Why not feel happy and successful at every moment of calorie counting
Good fucking luck with that.
> If every moment you play a tune, you hate how badly you play, and it drives you to play more precisely, but you hate playing and feel bad afterwards, are you better off or worse off than someone who plays imprecisely, but loves every moment they play and can't wait to play more and feels better afterwards?
That depends on if your goal is to play better or be happy. To attain success one must not be satisfied with being not successful or one will have too little motivation to succeed. The fact that people put themselves through miserable, agonizing slogs to succeed at things should tell you something about happiness: it isn't actually what people want, deep down. If it were, I know from first hand experience that opioids are a great way to make yourself feel good pretty much all the time without doing anything.
No, people want to be satisfied, and are sometimes confused into thinking that satisfaction will bring happiness, but it won't. Likewise, if someone wants to accomplish something, happiness and failure will not satisfy.
Well, if you allow me, what does being successful actually mean ? What is the point of your definition of successful if it doesn't make you happy ?
And for the record - we both are social, but it isn't our natural state =)
My husband is super introverted and will always choose being alone over being in a big group of people. I'm the complete opposite. But we're both still social animals. We both get energized by camaraderie, interesting discussions/debates, and human connection – we just have different preferences for how we engage w/ and achieve those things.
I often wonder about that. I'm sure if someone is gregarious and outgoing then they would suffer if they were deprived of social contact. Is this the same for introverts? I wonder if any of the studies on this control for introversion/extroversion.
Happiness is about being able to live in the present moment and share your life with the people that you love. Of course a minimum of wealth, health, etc. is needed and that minimum could be quite an effort to reach depending on where you start with.
I´ve never met a happy unloved person no matter how rich or powerful.
To others to yourself. To everyone.
Can't intentionally smiling release the same chemicals in your brain that are released when you are happy about something in a sort of backwards effect?
Faking happy could very well be one of those things.
What do you really gain by being all knowledgeable (and miserable)? Life is not a videogame that you win at the end by learning more than other people, instead it's a game that we all LOSE when we die, so to my eyes the only thing we should optimize for is to be happy while we live. If knowing more things make you happy, go for it but keep an eye on the potential negative effects on one's mood/happiness that I find inherent in knowledge.
He raised me up and I am proud of him. All the difficulties and chaos that happened in this country doesn't affect his perseverance doing researches and making my family better off. He is still optimistic and healthy today. With your stories, I found that as human being, we are really seeking for and sharing similar happiness, which can go beyond ideology.
Thanks for all your sharing again.
Just think about yourself and your own natural happiness level. For my siblings and I, it seems very similar to our parents. Of course not everyone is this way but I definitely believe some people are born a lot happier than others.
actually the jury is still out on that one
I wish her and Courtland would do a regular podcast together.
The author has her MBTI on her profile, and it's nearly the opposite of mine. That suggests to me that her preferences are likely quite different from mine.
Contentment comes when "the way you want it" and "the way it is" overlap enough -- but sometimes in life, you can really only change one of those.
This is enticing blanket statement. However, there are many things you'll need to do that will not or should not be fun. And if you fully believe this sentiment, during those times you are not having fun, you may feel like you're "doing it wrong" when this is just how it is and that's ok.
Happiness is more related to contentment than fun.
There's too much depressing shit in the world, too many injustices happening to other people and lifeforms, to truly be happy with that knowledge even if your own life is perfect.
Living in ignorance and seeking to learn nothing is just fueling the dystopian world we're walking into.
The most content people in the world are people who know everything there is to know about physics, philosophy, chemistry etc. That deep knowledge opens their eyes to the big picture.
Ignore the news, but learn everything there is to know about humanity.
I don't know if this is the best way to be, but it works remarkably well!
I'm not trying to start a pointless debate, your comment really made me curious.
Let's imagine the Christian god doesnt't exist. How does that logically lead to nothing mattering?
As a lifelong atheist there are plenty of things that matter to me: the well-being of people (particularly those around me), peace, justice, climate change, etc.
Are these goals not valuable in themselves?
I would argue the opposite: if god does exist, then nothing really matters anymore, except the whims of a powerful entity.
Not having a supernatural power meddling in our affairs liberates us to do great things.
The real seed of the message is that the one true God is not a noun, it's a verb. Can a verb have an agenda and a plan?
By my own experience, the common misunderstanding that God is a noun is nothing more then a projection of our human egos. In a way, using God(verb) to project through our minds and out our mouths/hands that there is one true Supernatural Organizer(noun) is idolatry.
By my beliefs you're acting at a very high level of spirituality by avoiding servitude to any Supernatural Organizer.
If we could have a potentially infinite afterlife, or potentially infinite reincarnations, then just one life doesn't matter much.
But if there's no such thing, if there's only this life and nothing after, then every single second being alive is the most valuable thing ever.
That is exactly the threat of death, if, while alive, you value your ability to continue existing and caring about things.
Threats inherently operate by reference to your preferences before they are realized, not your preferences after they are realized. Once you have the post-realization preferences, it can't be a threat any more, because there is no longer a possibility of not realizing the consequences.
If death is non-existence, you can't be threatened after death, but death can still be a threat. You can't use the complete indifference that comes with non-existence to say that death is not a threat: it is only not a threat if you are indifferent to death while alive, which is possible (as is it's opposite) whether or not death is non-existence.
"You cease to exist after death, so what's to fear?"
"Well, my fear is that I will cease to exist, Einstein!"
Fear doesn't have to be with something in the future being painful. We also fear something not being how we want it to be (in this case, we want to continue existing, and death prevents that).
>since once you are dead you cease to exist and no longer care about anything
That's an argument about we wont feel fear after death.
It's not an argument about we can't fear death itself...
I would say it's all the other moments that make life valuable, not its end.
Epicurus said death is the end of body & soul, therefore not to be feared. Im not sure I agree with that nor the inverse, if god exists, death is to be feared? Why?
Hence, if God exists and there is eternal punishment, that is a little bit scary.
The most brilliant marketing plan ever devised. It just awes the salesman in me... Brilliant!
Eternal punishment only exists if you arent a good person right? Heaven isnt eternal punishment?
It could be. Think of all the boring people that would supposedly be in there. Now think that you get to spend infinity time with them.
Certainly one wouldn't want to live in a place where J. S. Bach got to write music for eternity. Imagine the torture.
In other words, "we" have some abstract ideas about what happens when "we" die, but it's fundamentally impossible for you, the individual, to imagine what happens when _you_ die.
That makes no sense. There are some experiences of coming close to death, or what doctors consider death -- which is the mind/organs shutting down, etc.
There is (and can't be) no experience of actual permanent death though, nor has a dead person recounted their experience while a dead person.
The ones retelling the experience are always alive when they do it.
I'd say so.
The entire book of Ecclesiastes is about this. I wouldn't presume to summarize it all in a comment box, but it does cover a lot of grounds in different approaches to the meaning of life. It claims none of them really work all that well.
And no, it doesn't say, "But you die and go to heaven or hell anyway" over and over. It's not very supernatural at all, actually.
Things are. Their value is determined by a mind. Only God's mind can determine the value of a thing. Whether God exists or not, the statement stands.
Because, we do not know all the consequences an action but God knows. By your own set of values, by some twist of fate, what you are doing could be counter-productive.
Well, they can be valuable subjectively. Then again, useless things can also be valuable subjectively (e.g. a person obsessing about hoarding BS at their home).
But objectively, and in the long scheme of things, everybody will just be dead forever, so what's the point?
At best it's better enjoying a small intermission bookended by an eternity of nothing.
The universe, for one, doesn't care. It could just throw some asteroid at earth, and kill everybody removing all traces of history, culture, civilization, etc too.
I inherited and wear my grandfather's hat, I remember him, I drink tea in his honour, but I fight against some of the things he believed and fought for.
So I find satisfaction in that nothing matters anyways, and the best we can do is try to live a good life while we're here, and not take any of it too seriously. Because it's all random and largely out of my control, there's no rational basis for worry.
It's nice to see a Christian that reached the same conclusion with a totally different process :)
Can you, really? Say your kid disappeared a week ago after soccer practice, and the police has no leads about their whereabouts. Could you really distance yourself and "not worry because everything is just a random walk"? Or would you spend all night restless, like a normal human being?
The very act of choosing based on reason instead of feeling gives me a feeling of power, and depression tends to be accompanied by a feeling of powerlessness. This seems to be the mechanism of how reason helps me with depression.
Of course, it is not a complete cure, and it would be trite to say so, but reasoning does help.
People go to therapy for years to get over that restless stuff and replace it with some version of accepting that the world is not under your control.
No doubt that upsetting things are upsetting, but the guiding principle is that you have to accept the things you can't control, and do the best with the things you can control.
People don't respond to things just because it "gets them somewhere", and even less for such events.
One doesn't do a calculation "I'll grieve for X amount of time, because this has the best effects", except if they are a sociopath.
At best they can say after some time "I feel like I've grieved enough now, I should try to get back with life" -- and even that is not a decision, it's a gradual process with regressions, etc.
And if the parent became manic and left no stone unturned in their search for their child, like Taken, we'd be understanding.
Yet, our world is not the world of Taken, and we are not ex-CIA agents capable of destroying anyone in our path. There are truly evil people in this world capable of harming us, whom we have no power to thwart. Think of people living in the land of a drug lord, who can swoop in and take their children if he feels like it. Or the Uighurs and Falun Gong of China, who are regularly captured and organ harvested, and there's nothing they can do about it. There is great evil in our world, and little we can do about it but do our best to fight it and never give up, and even then there is no hope of truly eradicating evil from our world. What is the appropriate response?
"Suppose we've chosen the wrong god. Every time we go to church we're just making him madder and madder." - Homer Simpson
You've not considered this possibility, that there is an entity out there who would punish you for being Christian.
I'm not against religion but I wouldn't say there is some rational reason to believe one thing or another.
Yes, in the end nothing matters, but in the present and near future many things matter.