Finding meaning in life
Donny Darko's … 29 Jul 21 16:28
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How do you do this?  Struggling with the old existential angst again a lot at the moment.  The job feels particularly pointless (and particularly thankless) at the moment.  WFH really doesn't help. In a world without proper human connection everyone seems to feel much more able to be sh1tty about stuff and that makes me less inclined to go the extra mile. 

While I appreciate my materially very comfortable life I really can't get excited about owning more fancy things. I love my family and I want them to be happy but its easy for the pressures of providing for them to feel like a millstone and it's hard to stay out of the mindset that every fvcker seems to want me to make their life easier and nobody is offering up any support. 

I need a purpose in life, don't feel like I have one, and very much feel like I am running out of time to find one.  At the same time I have zero energy to do anything about it. 

Do you reckon it's possible to convince yourself to believe in god?  

I'm not sure you can convince yourself to believe in god but you could certainly find a welcoming religious community and the associated support network.


I believe the OP lives in Dubai. Maybe that is the issue?

5 years in dubai

you are now set up for life

start up a property empire

retire and live like Leo DiCaprio on a good day 

ask not what you can do for your country, but what you can do for diceman


and maybe find a good book.

and try and allocate yourself 30 mins 'me time' a day for the next fortnight. appreciate this may be easier said than done. 

reflect how rubbish your life would be if you only tried to help yourself.


feel free to ignore the above :)

I think you need to come to terms with the fact that life has no meaning.

Do you have a plan or are you staying in the sandpit until you drop / get dropped?

if you don't have a plan that is probably the ishoo. If you have a plan expedite it 

What pp said

There is only the pleasure you can find in this moment

I am unclear on why you feel like you need a purpose in life.  Your only purpose should be to be as happy as possible.  What are the things that make you happy?  Just do more of those and less of the things that make you unhappy.

There is no free lunch in life. 

I managed to build a lifestyle that I find really interesting and rewarding, but I had to step away from the full-on law firm career, and give up a large chunk of financial security (I do just fine, but I don't have the large firm safety net and a lot more stress and uncertainty) - but then again I don't wake up every day dreading the work day either. 

You can achieve what you want, but you can't have it *all*. If you optimize for one thing, then by definition you have to sacrifice something else. 

Do you reckon it's possible to convince yourself to believe in god?  

Wondered this myself. Reckon not

You could take the Spinozan approach of God being physics and whatnot.

Move back to the UK. You must have been out there for a decade or more now.

When I did the expat thing my worry on visits back here was the kids saying 'Dad, its cold here, can we go back home now'.

As it is, they're grown up now and live and work in the US, but either there or the UK offers way more variety and opportunity than the standard expat destinations.

For them and you.

embrace no meaning

rituals that come with organised religion are soothing without God

decide to be content

My purpose in life is to get through the day without any dramas and keep on buggering on until I get to the next thing I'm looking forward to.

Total War: Warhammer II - buy all expansion packs, but WH1 and all expansions pack - play mortal empires - hundreds of hours of cocaine centre stimulating funnnnnn. 

The answer is 42.

but you have passed that.

maybe go to prison

Do you reckon it's possible to convince yourself to believe in god?


James Hacker:
Humphrey, what's a Modernist in the Church of England?

Sir Humphrey Appleby:
Ah, well, the word "Modernist" is code for non-believer.

James Hacker:
You mean an atheist?

Sir Humphrey Appleby:
No, Prime Minister. An atheist clergyman couldn't continue to draw his stipend. So, when they stop believing in God, they call themselves "Modernists".

James Hacker:
How could the Church of England suggest an atheist as Bishop of Bury St Edmunds?

Sir Humphrey Appleby:
Well, very easily. The Church of England is primarily a social organization, not a religious one.

James Hacker:
Is it?

Sir Humphrey Appleby:
Oh yes. It's part of the rich social fabric of this country. So bishops need to be the sorts of chaps who speak properly and know which knife and fork to use. The sort of people one can look up to.

I think the key to finding some meaning is financial security.  Once you have this, you can look to do something you enjoy, whether a more interesting, but lower paid, job or perhaps some form or effective retirement, where you can pursue some hobby or other, or do something worthwhile like working with a charity or creating a woodland.  If I look at my own experience, which has had, continues to have, and will doubtless always have, moments (often extended) of existential angst, the financial security came from a few good law years, a prudent life style (in the context of good law years) while serving those years but most importantly a post-law lifestyle which is short on ostentation and material things (again in the context of the good law years) but long on having time to enjoy the things and people around me, and, quite simply, to do the things I enjoy doing.  In short, swap money for time.  You don’t have much of the latter so make the most of it.  But to be in a position to make that swap, you need to have the basics covered, yet those basics are very different from what you think they are when you are immersed in a pressurised job, earning a lot, spending a lot, but never having a moment to stop and think.

heh at Warhammer II! 

I could do with finding a passion project (not sure it's going to be Warhammer though). I have tried getting fit and I am much fitter than I was, but I just can't see the point in training for a Marathon or Tri or whatever. It doesn't interest me at all. Definitely have no interest in being 'ripped'.  I really don't think moving back to the UK is the answer (although moving out of the desert might be). 

As for why do I need a purpose?  Because otherwise what is the feckin point? 

There's no meaning. It's a long boring trudge to the grave.

Act accordingly.

in terms of work:

1. You have a real calling, or vocation - in law this is likely to be pretty narrow like doing legal aid care stuff, or fair trials abroad/death row work. Alternatively it could be a law lecturer, teaching the next generation; or

2. You accept that your work is not going to really make any real difference to people's lives, in which case try to make it as enjoyable/profitable/easy as possible.

I'm (2),  and for most of my career have managed the enjoyment and ease, but only recently the profit.

Outside work there's loads of stuff that could make a difference.

There is no point.  Why on earth should there be?  We simply exist (until we don't anymore).  It's up to you what you choose to do with that existence.  I choose to maximise my happiness wherever possible.  You should too!

Become a Twitch personality?

You could play games or just be a full-time hot tub streamer

I dreamt that I had a mistress last night! it was great.

Finding religion, computer games or Asian babes are probably not helpful suggestions.

Of course there's no point. you are just some irrelevant khunt. If your wife and kids don't hate you, you've won. The rest is all bollocks.

heh at set up an only fans!  I fear the market for that would be niche to say the least! I did meet a guy recently who makes an OK living at that sort of thing but he is a fair bit younger (and a lot hotter) than me.

Never understood why anyone would want a mistress. A one off 'indiscretion' I can understand but a second proper relationship.  Fvck that sh1t.  Sounds very very tiring.  

I relate to the OP

My conclusion is that finding purpose in life is all about accepting that there is none, and at that point you realise that if there is no afterlife, no value in religion beyond organised peacefulness*, no inherent virtue in the endeavour you are engaged in beyond just doubt something well or completely, then you are at that point emancipated. You are free to go about your remaining years at peace. You can then focus on not tying to take too much from others, not trying to prove too much to others or yourself, you don’t resent others’ success or interests and you enjoy enabling those around you to be content or fulfilled. What experience you have becomes your gift to others if they want it, but not to be forced on them. You ask nothing for what you can give because there is no value in accumulating acquired benefit because you will be dead. So knowing there and then that something was a good thing to do (for you or for them) is enough. Nobody gets in your way when you do one or two things for your own contentment but you find you enjoy it more if you involve others and they enjoy the opportunity to share it. Then you die, satisfied. 

‘The job feels particularly pointless (and particularly thankless) at the moment.  WFH really doesn't help. In a world without proper human connection everyone seems to feel much more able to be sh1tty about stuff and that makes me less inclined to go the extra mile. ‘

indeed indeed

Read a good book. Find the one you want to read by listening to the philosophy bites podcast which is all of 15 minutes long. If you don’t like the sound of who they’re discussing move on to the next one until one takes your fancy. Then read the shortest original text by that person. If you cba to do that then accept you’re essentially a materialistic lawyer with no redeemable ethos but more money than 99% of the rest of the planet. 

Yeah, WFH pretty much killed any enjoyment I derived from the job, and with it any meaning that the job added to my life. 

And to continue that thought…

It’s forced me to stop gaining a proxy self-worth benefit from the job. It’s just you, a computer, some slog. The shiny veneer of corporate life and any senior label illusion you may enjoy, all gone. It is like retirement but, perversely, with work that must be done.
Job stripped naked, not career. It makes it impossible to continue refusing to confront the ‘why do I do this?’ self-nag. 
so, why do i do it? To steal the words of Reb Tevye ‘I’ll tell you! … I don’t know!!’

And so, while our generation works out how to cope with this sea change, the ones behind us approach it from a completely different angle, but with much less experience of handling change. Who benefits?

Each generation thinks they can do better and never learn the lessons from the previous one and as far as I can tell we are not welcome to give advice to a group of people with an admirable level of energy, self belief and determination to do it differently, so the baton has been passed and we should fook off

"The shiny veneer of corporate life and any senior label illusion you may enjoy, all gone. It is like retirement but, perversely, with work that must be done. Job stripped naked, not career. "

Very much agree with that, yes. 

The difficulty is that intellectually and economically, I don't see the justification for forcing everyone back into the office. Infrastructure costs alone suggest it's not worth it.

It was always that - just a veneer, a theatre that people engaged in. But it was so ingrained and so deeply rooted in the society that I could have never imagined it would be gone with a click of the fingers. Before the pandemic, even a request to wfh 1 day a week resulted in raised eyebrows and strange looks. But now the veneer is gone. And, like any mirage, once dissipated, it's almost impossible to restore. 

The supposed benefit - "you can work from anywhere" - doesn't really apply to lawyers. For practical purposes and maybe with limited exceptions, one is confined to the jurisdiction where one is licensed/admitted to practice. 

So yeah, there we are. 

You rof like you're 70, muttley, but pretty sure you are in your forties?

Pretty sure you have professional things still to do.

Personally I think WFH has opened up a lot of things. My last trainee got to go to a meeting with the chancellor of the actual Exchequer. When I were a lass you were lucky to go to a.meeting with the finance director of a conservatory company.

It is always the un-planned-for events that provide the greatest test of the orthodoxy. The orthodoxy has many contingency plans in hand to maintain its continuity then, one day, something comes up and fooks it in the ear. Like Corona and Big Law. 
fooked it. 

Well you're younger than your rof world weariness anyway

Chill out you'll be back to getting pissed off with the commute in due course

Lucky fooking English

Maybe, maybe not. In fact not. 

actually you blew out at me a while back pre covid saying old people should just fook off and let the rest of the world own it as we (the people a bit ahead in the working world) were the problem. 

i know this was just a moment of rage but you really woke me up to something. Until that point I thought it was just ‘us’- all working people. Not so. 

There's definitely a division 

And young people won't do things as we did

Well, you can always have a clergham.

But leaving aside the obvious gags, it’s a bit of a Cartesian argument out of nothing, but life has the meaning we give it.

It seems to me you have many things that give you meaning and purpose in life (family, bees, brewing, motorcycle maintenance…); it’s fine to think deeper thoughts every once in a while, mais il faut cultiver notre jardin.

And a glass of something and a good cheese helps. 

In response to the OP if you really want to start getting into a rich seam then can I recommend you listen to George Harrison’s music and read some of  his views on it all?

It was a man who was plucked from his modest Mersey teens and then didn’t just experience the pressures of fame but pretty much invented and then endured, along with his bandmates, a whole new genre of pop fame and cult adoration, but hit the wall we all must hit: there must be more to it than this. Then asked the question we all must ask: what is it? 

2 more things 


1) it’s ‘us’ now is it Clergs…;-)

2) yeah, those things I mention on RoF i mention because I cherish them. But in years gone by they were not comforts but endeavour and chattels. Now they enrich. 

And then lost himself in eastern jumbo jumbo and cancerous weed. 58 wasn’t he? Ffs


Yeah, I'm nearly forty. Well past it in terms of new things ahead. I think that potential was an agonising millstone anyway, mind.

At the risk of sounding like Hotblack Desiato he found himself in weed and eastern mumbo-jumbo

And the same goes for you, Donny Darko (Ceiling Cat?).

People frothing about “mindfulness” drive me up the wall, but finding joy, interest and meaning in the small, mundane real things is not displacement activity, it is life.


I don’t buy George H as some mystic savant. He was a good man for sure, and he put his money where it was needed, but deifying his like is misplaced imho. 

finding joy, interest and meaning in the small, mundane real things is not displacement activity, it is life.

call it what you like but this is, literally, mindfulness…

I am currently finding joy in a negroni and some cheesy sci-fi on Netflix…

I’m certainly not deifying him because my point was that it is all rather boringly simple and not that sophisticated, and I think he was probably boringly simple and not that sophisticated either, but his ‘be good to people’ conclusions are sound. 

Cheesy sci-fi eh. 

They came from outer space. Nobody heard them but everyone smelled them. 

epoisse d’espace - only spoon can defeat them

in cinemas now

Furry muff. 

I particularly appreciated his funding of films. Some classics. 

You can't force yourself to believe in God, but, as someone who is quite religious (Christian), reading religious philosophy can help a lot. Start with basic stuff like the cosmological argument etc., and you might find what you're looking for. 

Describe “religious philosophy “


Philosophical arguments for the existence of God; religious ethical theories (e.g. certain interpretations of situation ethics); analysis of religious experience and its eschatological implications; religious-philosophical explanations for the problem of evil (for example, the free will defence, soul-making theodicy, process theodicy). These are some basic areas but the list of course very long. 

Or you might not. 


Sure, you might not. But given OP's position it seems worth a try. 

I should have said I thought you were going to list a few people. 

Get yourself a Series 1 E-Type (FHC). You'll find plenty of focus in tuning the carbs and trying to work out why it fire properly. Also make a load of new mates all trying to do the same thing.

I should have said I thought you were going to list a few people. 


Ah I see! Well those topics above are very broad and would include quite a few people. Also, it's philosophy, so the reader very much needs to buy what the philosopher is selling. I find it's more helpful to point to the areas. I for example have a lot of time for the cosmological argument and in particular Aquinas' second/third way; someone else may find him a waste of time. 

Maybe not an option for you catters, but I started getting involved in local community issues earlier this year and it’s helped a lot in terms of personal fulfilment beyond the kids and the job (now completely unfulfilling). 

Yes, that was sort of my conclusion, too, merkz, but that all sounds a bit too much like self-help book drivel.

Also, I quite like being mindless.


I love my job. But it’s just a way for me to earn cash which helps with my goals and living life as I please. Fortunately, my job has plenty of meaning, but if it didn't, I wouldn't care. 

From the Friday night shutdown, there is no thinking, talking or reading anything work-related until Monday.

I plan to make sure I do enjoyable things, or even reasonably mundane stuff, because a lot of the time, the anticipation is what's exciting and fun. 

As mentioned already, perhaps some mindfulness is needed—enjoying and appreciating the little things. 

We are here for such a limited time. Being friendly, fun and good to be around is probably all that's needed. 

Do something that directly benefits something/someone other than yourself or your immediate family. Indirectly, it will do the world of good for you too.

Even listing what you're grateful for would probably help. It can't be all bad. 

Also, when I've got stuck into the old 2am existential dread rut, it's usually time to do something substantially different with my life - whether moving jobs, careers or countries.

Maybe tunning is the meaning?  If so, I take you a step closer to enlightenment hereby.

mutters have you read the Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman?  It isn’t very good, but there are some quite sweet old people bits that read a lot like your naughties parent posts.

catty, I have been reading some about Buddhism which is interesting.  Might float your boat.

why is Richard osman so punchable?  I realise that’s not very zen but I don’t think Buddha had the poor man’s Robert Ludlow in mind tbh.

why is Mel Giedroych on telly?

why is Richard osman so punchable? 

why is Mel Giedroych on telly?


Madders - try giving one hour a week or every month to a charity or person or cause - genuinely helping someone who needs it.

This is not about taking pity (leads to looking down or assuming you know best0 or throwing money. This is about giving your time and mind - use your experience (personal and professional) to help someone in your circle who genuinely needs it. And don't expect anything back. In fact even if your help is rejected that is fine too. But if it is taken up, see it through. 

Pick one cause or person or thing. Commit to it. Angst will disappear. 

I had this problem


i moved job and life elsewhere

started a business 

changed by priorities 

life is still a challenge but a change in the big things feels genuinely like I’ve made a choice to take a different path 


the op will have plenty of cash - take some bigger risks and remember it’s next stop 50 then 60




I had this problem


i moved job and life elsewhere

started a business 

changed by priorities 

life is still a challenge but a change in the big things feels genuinely like I’ve made a choice to take a different path 


the op will have plenty of cash - take some bigger risks and remember it’s next stop 50 then 60




Invest yourself in your children, they are all that you will leave behind that has any significance.

Absolutely the only way to do this effectively is to do something you find interesting or meaningful for a job. Because we spend so long working. Different if you’re independently wealthy I guess, but most such people seek some kind of “occupation”.

Sure, family when you see them, sure, hobbies, but most people’s mission in life is their work.

You’ve always struck me as someone who finds your whole life set up actually quite unsatisfying but is wired to pursue it, probably due to your upbringing. Creates a bit of a psychological conflict. I would really recommend doing some work with a good executive coach (not a sh1t woo one) to try to understand fundamentally what your values are and how they come out in your working life. Ideally you can find a way to derive some enjoyment and meaning in your job - or at least figure out with a little more precision what’s lacking and how you might address it. 

personally I find I am wired to build things and am happiest and feel purposeful when I’m doing that - be that my family, a business, fundraising. The idea of shared enterprise to create something is what engages me. It’s not anymore purposeful than anything else (we’re all going to die etc) but it’s good fun. You need to figure out your own version of that. 

What Muttley said at 17.55.

You have officially hit the wall of realising that career and possessions are not purpose and they have no inherent meaning or value. 

A construct of self worth built which has been built around a completely false hierarchy is also meaningless and without inherent value. 
Knowing this is actually a good thing. It means you are now free of the chains that bound you to where you are now. 

What comes next is entirely up to you. 



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