Purposelessness is a life without goals, direction, and meaning (Balanceology’s # M-2 pillar).At some point we all ask, “Is there a purpose to my life?,” ”Is there a point to my life?,” and “Is this it?” Having no firm sense of purpose will increase a person’s sense of reclusiveness, isolation, loneliness, anxiety, and depression. In future posts, I discuss in detail the concepts of vision (passion) and mission (purpose). To live a life without purpose is not living ––> a life without purpose is not sustainable. Purposelessness is going through life nonchalantly, apathetically, and lackadaisically. It is whimsically and waggishly interacting with life. Life for many is an endless parade to capture material possessions with a purpose to show-and-tell what they acquired. I ask, “Why is there so much depression and anxiety in the modern industrialized world?” The answer always comes back to a life that is out of touch with the natural world, with one’s needs, and lacks a firm sense of direction. It is a life of disruption, purposelessness, and meaninglessness. For Gordon, “without a sense of purpose life doesn’t seem very exciting or meaningful.” (1985)
Ennui is a concept I view as being reflective of a life of the homme moyen —> the average, ordinary, nominal, and mediocre. Homme moyen is associated with the normality of the parochial, small-minded, and the insularity of aloneness. It captures the very essence and condition of the average person. If not careful, the ordinary person can live an ennui life of dissatisfaction, and one of isolation, angst, listlessness, anomie, desolation, despondency, and low energy. It can involve a disillusionment, desperation, and despair juggernaut of self-devolution. It is the effete cave living of the common person who has lost sight of him/herself in a bewildering maze of illusionary living in- stead of real living (In later posts, I discuss Plato’s Cave). It is like sleep-walking through life. Ennui is living without a worldview, vision (passion) or mission (purpose), and has become dispirited, demoralized, and futile. “Futility of futility, all is futility.”(Ecclesiastes, 12: 8) In my mid-twenties, I had lost my way and my life was hanging in the balance. It was a time I lacked real meaning in my life, and unquestionably it was a meltdown period of dislocation and being dissatisfied, discouraged, and disheartened. A life of ennui is inextricably linked to purposeless, emptiness, and boredom (discussed in posts to follow.
Dissatisfaction includes disappointment. Fromm felt, “we are a society of notoriously unhappy people, lonely, anxious, depressed, destructive, dependent people who are glad when we have killed the time we are trying to save.” (1976) My life has had many times of disappointment, dissatisfaction, and discontentment. The question for me became, “How do I handle moments and times of dissatisfaction?” I came to the realization that long-term dissatisfaction can degenerate and often translates into long-term discontentment and omnipresent anhedonia —> the absence or inability to experience happiness or pleasure. Significantly, I learned that short-term satisfaction of wanting stuff can never lead to long-term satisfaction of meeting my needs. In order to avoid long-term dissatisfaction I made a choice to learn about Nature, human nature, and my own nature. I made a decision to start the process of reading, research in many fields, studying, experiencing life, and introspectively deeply reflecting about my life by asking many questions. I came to the conclusion that I had to build a worldview, philosophy, vision, mission and values that could focus me in the direction of satisfying my inborn needs.
Dukkha is a concept I view as being related to dissatisfaction and it can be translated as suffering. According to Buddha, the cause of human suffering is craving. Buddha said trishna (craving-wanting) only ends up equaling dukkha (suffering-pain). We have these endless cravings of getting more, having more, possessing more. The Dalai Lama, felt “the very basis of seeking more is a feeling of not having enough, a feeling of discontent.” (1998) There is pain in continuous craving. Bercholz and Kohn refer to our “never-satisfied search for satisfaction.” (1993) A huge part of our dissatisfaction is a maelstrom and a never-ending search for unlimited wants. In this search for wants, a focus of satisfying innate motivational needs is distracted. Learned wants become the focus instead of fulfilling and experiencing innate needs. A toxic wanting for wealth, material items, power, fame, fun, sex, food, and drugs can overwhelm satisfying needs. I guarantee that excessive wanting makes for unhealthy living and upsets life’s balance. Insatiable wanting ultimately leads to a life of discontentment.
Dissatisfaction is a major cause for knocking us out of balance and health. In my opinion, even at the basic-balance level of health (H-3 of normality) most people are dissatisfied. Dissatisfaction is a key characterological feature of human nature, thus making it a key feature in trying to understand ourselves. No other creature in the Animal Kingdom has this struggle with dissatisfaction. Humans are often discontent and malcontent and are constantly seeking more. We are rarely at a satisfaction quiescence. As we bring fulfillment to one desire, another one quickly pops-up to take its place. There is no satisfying human beings. There is never enough for us. We appear to be on an eternal quest of wanting more, more, and more. I suggest dissatisfaction is frequently a wag the dog of chasing after wants that only divert our attention away from satisfying our inherent needs.
Ill-health is associated with: 1.) genetics – there are people who are born with a pre-existing propensity to inherit unhealthy conditions (eg. psychosis, mental retardation, severe physical disabilities, etc), 2.) trauma – early childhood pain can be so severe that there is significant Limbic system damage. In some cases the hurt, pain, and injury has happened before language has developed (pre-verbal and pre-cognitive) and the person can’t put into words, or define what has happened. The fallout from early damage has so decimated the child that it has made for an unstable and shaky developmental foundation for healthy adult functioning, 3.) co-morbidity – some individuals have a co-existence of more than one issue (eg. concurrent mental illness, PTSD, PTSS, or a physical disability) that makes the burden of living overwhelming, and/or 4.) other abnormal conditions possibility related to ill-balance are extreme poverty, unsafe environmental conditions, inhibiting personality disorders, developmental delays/handicaps, addictively disturbed, and sociopathologically disturbed.
Ill-health (H-1) correlates with ill-balance (B-1) and pertains to innate needs are two standard deviations below central tendency and there are overwhelming negative symptoms. Ill-health are central tendency outlier individuals making up 2% of a population at any given time. There is frequently a fluidity between basic-health (H-3) and being unhealthy (H-2). Individuals who devolve from basic-health to an unhealthy level often regenerate and start Feeling Better and return to normal health. However, ill-health is a more pervasive longer-lasting time of instability and ill-balance. Ill-healthy individuals are significantly not meeting needs, are seriously disturbed, and are deeply broken. It is a devolutionary frenetic time of immense deprivation and insensibility. It is a time of brain inertia, inactivity, lethargy, dormancy, and maybe a brain-meltdown (the brain is tired). The person is ill-prepared to satisfy basal needs, and is at a level of micro balance (minimum balance). Some people have never been able to meet even their most basal survival needs of safety/security —> food, clothes, housing, physical safety, and medical care.
For some individuals it is a time period of ill-health in their life before returning to unhealthy or even basic-health living. However, for many individuals it is a chronic incapacitation. Let’s face it, life isn’t fair! Some individuals have a disproportionate number of events in their life that are tumultuous, vexatious, and troubling. Sadly, many people are irrevocably and irreparably damaged. Some individuals have ineffective habituation behaviors that have become chronic systemic deficiencies. Ineffective skills are the person’s “natural” coping skills. Consequently, ill-health individuals have a severe disturbance in meeting basal Self and Belonging-Needs. Ill-health individuals have not developed a mitigational skill prowess to manage life in order to satisfy needs.
Racial Trauma – There is universal consensus that an individual traumatized at an early age (any age) can carry the scars for a lifetime (if untreated). I ask, “Is there a collective racial trauma that can pass through the generations?,” and “Can the ghosts of abusive slavery captivity to Black Americans, or forced reservation subjugation to American Indians linger in their offspring?” Has the consequences of the pain and strife from the trauma of slavery, and reservation servitude left indelible marks on their very spirit? Has the intensity of slavery and subjugation made for an inherited inferiority complex and society discarding the descendants of these two groups? I contend that there is a legacy of emotional and spiritual pain for blacks and Indians. The Baldwin Effect teaches us that significant environmental events (for good or ill) can be epigenetically activated and often transferred to the generations to follow. I argue that for many blacks and Indians (or any traumatized group) collective group traumatization leads to a recollection of this trauma for certain offspring. This recollection often has had a major influence on offspring behavior.
I agree with author Joy DeGruy Leary that there is a group equivalent to PTSD that she calls PTSS. In her book Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing (2005) a case is made that multi-generational oppression leads to multi-generational stress and learned helplessness. Inherited bloodline trauma will become an impediment to satisfy needs, be balanced, and self-evolve. A review of the statistics for these two groups indicates having significant problems related to: education, work, housing, family breakdown, a need for government assistance, mental health issues, antisocial behaviors, and group infighting. Past trauma appears to have transgenerationally encapsulated many descendants into an histriocity of stagnation, servitude, modern day enslavement (encavement) and self-destructive behaviors. Many traumatized individuals have .) internalized the pain with destructive self-abuse behaviors of drug usage, alcohol usage, depressed living, listlessness, and hopelessness, or 2.) externalized the pain by outer directed destructive behaviors such as crime, abuse of others, or extreme anger. However, not all individuals have internalized or externalized transgenerational trauma. There is a significant number of Indian and black people who have acquired an education, developed a productive career, and built a strong family. What made for their success? How did some individuals break away from the chains of abuse? I submit: 1.) they did not allow themselves to self-abuse, or to blame others for their problems, 2.) they did not allow generational prejudicial views or discriminatory discarding practices to continue to cripple them, 3.) they realized that self-evolution can’t happen through new chains of enabling, shielding, or entitlements, 4.) they refused to look on themselves as victims and to allow victimization to keep them locked to the past, and 5.) they understood that in order to break free from those ghosts of past they needed to face past abuse. That is, confirm that past abuse took place, and confront past abuse. Confirm-and-confront builds a sense of worth, self-efficacy, empowerment, and internal locus of control. Confirm-and-confront is a self-determination leading towards self-evolution. I do plead with those who have been able to confirm-and-confront, and have broken away from generational trauma to please do a better job of being role models, mentors, and supporters for those who are still stuck to their past ghosts.