Feeling Secure

Life is a crap shoot and then you die. How can you feel secure in an indifferent world?

One of the existential issues people face is how to find meaning in a meaningless universe.  Or to put it another way. How can I maintain my sanity if none of the crap I experience in life means anything and there is no guarantee that crap will stop happening?

That is a darned good question. One that doesn’t have a good answer. Which is why people use a wide variety of coping mechanisms to deal with the angst this reality creates in us.

The Humanist approach is a realistic approach. Instead of trying to find meaning to pacify our brains or trying to trick ourselves into thinking everything will be alright if we just pretend the universe is not a random collection of energy manifesting as things, we just accept this reality as scary as it seems.

Life is random. It’s random we were even born. We could have just as easily not been born. There are no guarantees in life. We may die tomorrow with our work unfinished. We may suffer a lot, or a little. We have no way of knowing.  Here’s the weird part. I write this as a Humanist and it doesn’t upset me. Crazy, I know.

But here’s what happens once I accept the worst that could happen. I start to think, now what? What am I going to do with the time I have alive?  What is under my control and what isn’t?  I may not be able to control everything in my life, but I can certainly control some things. I do have some agency.  And it’s in agency (the ability to make decisions and to act on them) that I have hope.

Life may be a crap shoot. And I’m definitely going to die. But right now I’m alive and despite life’s uncertainty and hardships, there is also love and music and light and beaches and cats and kids and food. There are people I can positively influence right now. While I’m alive.  Why should I waste the little moments of happiness I find worrying about things that may or may not happen?

The serenity prayer is about changing the things you can change and accepting the things you can’t. The key – having the wisdom to know the difference. You can’t change the basic nature of the universe. No amount of prayer or wishful thinking can change that. So accept it. And work on the things you can change.

Do you really need to fuss over things that ultimately don’t matter in the big scheme of things? No. You don’t. Accepting the futility of it all helps you to be more calm.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care or actively work to make things better. You should. After all, even if things don’t matter in the big scheme of things, they do matter right now. To you. And to the people whose lives you can impact right now.

Camus spoke of the absurdity of life. The balance we all have to strike is how to live life fully despite the futility of it all. Accepting the reality of your death doesn’t mean your work is futile. It matters. Right now. And that actually is enough.

To learn more about how to cope with these existential issues – consider reading my book: The Humanist Approach to Happiness: Practical Wisdom and taking my online course – Living Made Simpler. 

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