As renowned Canadian psychologist, Jordan B. Peterson has made a lengthy point about how adopting responsibility gives life meaning.
Responsibility is a burden. A weight to be carried. Thus it is difficult and uncomfortable to adopt it. It takes strength of character and of Will to do so. The alternative is to opt for self-satisfying, hedonism. Buying all of the nice things you can afford, having all of the “no-strings” sex you can get, filling your body with this or that intoxicant. It’s easy to do this. Our society provides us with many opportunities to do so. It doesn’t require strength to take those opportunies. It’s therefore, weakness.
Now this is not all to say you should live a monk-like ascetic life, though you may wish to experiment with this for a time to find the human capacities that are unlocked as a result. Joy and pleasure are part of life and are there to be experienced. However, something we – particuarly the young – do not consider enough, is the degree to which pain and suffering play a role in life. These are also natural and for us to experience and crucially to learn from.
You will suffer with or without responsibility
It’s a fact that at one time or another, you will experience a great deal of suffering. Losing jobs and loved ones being key triggers.
Life can be a bitch. When things really go down hill, pleasure cannot be found in drugs, sex and rock’n’roll… The best they can serve is to numb out the pain. But you have to wonder if that’s even living at all? So if we choose – with courage – that we want to feel the reality of our lives instead of atempting (!) to run away from it, we are faced with a question. If this is all there is, what’s the point in going on?
What is the point in going on in a life that is difficult and necessarily involves suffering and pain? Peterson and countless traditions across the ages agree that the point is you have the opportunity to relieve the unnecessary suffering of the world around us, if only a little bit. If we can choose to tackle an issue that perhaps we have some understanding of and lift the world up – through our efforts, perhaps life can have some meaning again.
But not if we believe the purpose of life to obtain as much pleasure as possible. Good luck with that.
If you’d like to start getting your life in order, identify where you can adopt responsibility and start creating a more meaningful life, learn about my Coaching & Mentoring Packages.