I earlier stated that a life of dissatisfaction from not meeting needs is a sad life of ennui –—> purposelessness, emptiness, and boredom. I now state that a life of dissatisfaction is a life that lacks meaning, is out of balance, is un/ill-healthy, and can lead to various ways to check-out of life: 1.) Surreal check-out, 2.) Emotional check-out, and 3.) Suicidal check-out. In the posts to come, I will discuss these 3 forms of checking-out.
Telomeres are nucleotide special base hardy end caps on every chromosome. Telomeres protect chromosomes. Chromosomes have genetic material packaged as DNA. Telomeres protect DNA against mental and physical deterioration. Short telomeres are an indication of degradation of a chromosomal cap. Telomeres involve stress: 1.) Stress can ignite telomere cap deterioration. Stress has something to do with gene CYP17. The CYP17 gene is on chromosome 10, and has an enzyme that converts cholesterol into cortisol. Stress that is pan-environmentally enduced involves cortisol. Chronic long-term stress can involve cortisol that wears down telomeres. Chronic stress is symptomatic of ongoing inner emotional and psychological struggles. Age can wear down telomeres. Research indicates stress enduced telomere cap shortening can contribute to diseases such as alzheimers, cancer, heart problems, aging skin, impaired immunological functioning, osteoarthritis, and osteoporosis,and 2.) Telomerase is an enzyme that can elongate telomeres. The enzyme telomerase adds back DNA to telomere cap damage. Significantly, there are certain activities that can actually increase the enzyme telomerase and help avoid telomere cap degradation. Importantly, there are certain activities that can genuinely add back telomere to the damaged caps, and improve overall telomere maintenance. Activities that protect telomeres from long-term stress include —> having a balanced diet, having a clear purpose for living, participate in physical exercise, include mental exercises of all kinds, partake in relaxation exercises that decompress stress, and maintain consistent regular patterns. Also, consuming fish oil, certain hormone replacements, and certain auto-oxidants and anti-septics may have beneficial effects that delay telomere shortening. I suggest that many of these activities involve epigenetic activation.
Stressors pertain to pan-environmental triggers requiring a response —> stress comes from stressors. Stressors can take two forms: 1.) distress involves those destabilization stressors that are detrimental, injurious, and deleterious (eg. fired at work), or 2.) eustress are those innocuous, anodyne, even beneficial stressors (eg. promoted at work). Whether negative or positive, stressors consume energy. Whether it is distress or eustress there can be wear-and-tear on our mind-and-body. Stress is an excellent example of how our mind and bodies are inseparable. Stress interacts in a mind-body manner emotionally, psychologically, behaviorally and medically. In later posts, I review the clinical data related to mind-body symptoms. Certain stressors concern long-term stress (eg. a serious medical condition), and others pertain to short-term stress (eg. giving a speech). An interesting side note —> there are various instruments designed to measure levels of stress over a certain time period (eg. Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory).
Stress exists by the mere fact of living and is a factor for all of us. I understand the tremendous amount of stress that is a byproduct of living in modern societies. And, today with coronavirus, many people unemployed, and racial tension, there is an almost unmanageable amount of stress. Stress is from the Latin stringere and means to “draw tight.” Sometimes my day-to-day, churn-and-burn pressures can cause me to instinctually draw within myself. Part of this instinctive reaction is related to our survival instinct. That is, day-to-day stressfulness is connected to how we survive and manage the fluidity of lives unending and exhausting daily tasks, family issues, interpersonal problems, work, school, health, finances, and threats. However, and remarkably stress is also related to how we handle and manage our opportunities and successes. Stress involves our ability to direct lives evolutionary and devolutionary conditions. Stress includes our reactions to both milieu interior and milieu exterior pan-environmental events and happenings.
Boredom comes from a life of ennui and in some ways is inherent in the human condition. Doesn’t it often seem that we are busy-yet-bored, and we have stuff-yet-bored? In this day of modern technological advances and instant computerized feedback, I sometimes think that our attention span has become even shorter and has only intensified our inherent boredom. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin maintained that, “the man who sees nothing at the end of the world, nothing than himself, daily life can only be filled with pettiness and boredom. So much fruitless effort, so many wasted moments.”(1969) For Victor Frankl, when people finally have time to do something, they often don’t want to do it. In the Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus compared modern men to Sisyphus. In the Myth of Sisyphus the cruel king of Corinth betrayed divine secrets. As punishment the gods forced him to roll a stone to the top of the hill in Hades. Once reaching the top of the hill, Sisyphus had to roll the stone back down the hill. His lifelong job became nothing more than an endless parade and procession of low functioning and low productivity as he tediously rolled the stone up-and-down the hill. Camus sees Sisyphus as “the workman of today who works every day in his life at the same tasks and his fate is no less absurd. But it is tragic only at the rare moments when it becomes conscious.” (1955) I ponder and ask, “Is life for the majority of us little more than a Camusian battle worn tug-of-war of purposelessness, emptiness, boredom, and a war-of-attrition that ends up eroding and devolving into weariness?”
Emptiness is a life of ennui, and is one gauge to measure the degree of meaning, balance, and health in our life. Buddha’s concept of sunyata = emptiness. Emptiness is related to a life that is not grasping Nature, human nature, or one’s own nature. McGrath contended, “there is an emptiness within human nature, which cries out for fulfillment and meaning, yet nothing created and transient seems to meet this need.” (2002) Emptiness is a key existential symptom. Emptiness is the experience of one’s existence as not being fulfilled and where a void exists. It is a life of dispassionate living because one’s needs are not being satisfied. Without need fulfillment a sort of lethargic nihilism (nothingness) sets in. A nothingness of excessive, frivolous, and facetious wanting. Emptiness is going through life recklessly and carelessly. Achtner et. al. maintained, “consciously or unconsciously, it seems that modern uprooted human beings on average have been following a lifestyle from Faust. They are subject to the ambivalence of empty activism and exhausted lethargy.” (2002) Carl Jung suggested that a societal collective emptiness amounts to a culture “composed of de-individualized persons.” (1957) I ask, “Is a society of collective emptiness a kind of disengaged dystopian society?”
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.