How a meaningless life can make you happy

Wendy Syfret is a Melbourne-based author and editor. She is the previous managing editor of VICE Asia, in addition to head of Editorial for VICE Australia. She has contributed to publications similar to The GuardianCrikey, and ABC Life, to call a few. Presently, she is editor-in-chief of RIISE, a climate-forward trend and way of life publication.

Under, Wendy shares 5 key insights from her new e book, The Sunny Nihilist: How a Meaningless Life Can Make You Actually Happy.

1. Nihilism doesn’t deserve its unhealthy popularity.

Nihilism has a PR downside—the time period itself has develop into shorthand for “grim” and “miserable.” However I’d argue that this popularity is undeserved, owing extra to the individuals who have embraced, promoted, and manipulated it than the idea itself.

In its easiest kind, nihilism preaches that “life is meaningless.” In flip, so are you and I. Once we settle for that “that means” isn’t an inherent factor, we can look at it as a idea we create, and therefore have the flexibility to regulate. Moreover, we can query the place it comes from, and who’s pushing it.

Even when you don’t go full nihilist, it can be a immediate to marvel: Why do I imagine what I imagine? The place do these concepts come from? Who’s benefitting from them? What do they actually ship to me? And the way do they profit others?

2. That means is meant to make us happy, however our obsession with it’s making us depressing.

The seek for a significant life isn’t a unhealthy factor. It’s a quest that has pushed humanity ahead for millennia. It’s additionally a lot of labor—folks have devoted their complete existence to understanding that means by faith, philosophy, artwork, and even a dedication to civic life.

Few of us have that form of time, however our need for significant connection stays. Sadly, that lust can simply be hijacked by power-holders who acknowledge that in the event that they can produce a dupe of that significant feeling—for under a fraction of the work wanted to create a true sense of that means—then that’s a highly effective software.

That means was by no means purported to be binged on. Even believers of that means situated it in, maybe, one or two components of their lives. However now, each job is all of the sudden “culture-defining,” and every shopper product “life-changing.” Nothing can exist with out some large, bloated narrative connected to it. It’s nice advertising, nevertheless it’s additionally exhausting.

3. That means makes you egocentric. Rejecting it’d make you kinder.

One of many deceivingly good issues about shopping for into all this that means is it can make self-obsession really feel like a really noble act. Once we embrace private myth-making, putting ourselves on the heart of the universe, we give ourselves permission to spend a lot of time interested by our personal lives, actions, and experiences. Who doesn’t love that? In distinction, nihilism’s main promoting level of “you don’t matter” is a spikier declaration.


Actually, staring into the abyss takes guts, however there are a lot of advantages to trying it. Acknowledging nihilist ideas doesn’t should be a harmful expertise. Accepting our personal smallness within the face of the universe prompts fascinating issues round how we spend our time, cash, and power—after we’re not completely dedicated to ourselves.

We begin questioning about what we need to final past our brief lives, and what must be protected and treasured. For every individual that will probably be completely different, however I’d wager it’s not your follower depend or LinkedIn presence.

4. Worth vs. that means.

I dunk on that means a lot, however I’m cautious to level out that it’s not the identical as worth. Worth is actual, like the sensible use of the merchandise we’re bombarded with. We might all profit from considering extra about worth and spending much less time questioning about that means.

At this second, what do you have to really feel happy and nicely? What is actually being supplied on your effort and time? Navigate your life by prioritizing worth over that means, and I promise you’ll really feel much more rewarded on your efforts.

5. That means takes us out of the second.

That means guarantees success, enlightenment, and a path to “residing proper.” In actuality, it too typically delivers confusion, and a sense of someway being within the incorrect place on the incorrect time. That means can manifest as simply one other field we can by no means handle to tick.

Once we cease interested by what our lives might be, we return to the truth of what they’re. If we settle for that existence doesn’t have a motive, then all we’ve is that this life and this valuable, fleeting second. With that perspective, how will we spend our time in another way?

For me, every second seems like a uncommon deal with to be loved and savored. Even a mundane day is a present that may by no means be repeated. The world feels bigger, but in addition smaller.

I’m in a position to extra clearly ask: What makes me happy? What do I would like proper now? The place is pleasure actually discovered? The solutions are less complicated and nearer than you assume.

An ideal peach, time with family members, a noon stroll within the solar. These actions are “meaningless,” however they’re the tiny blocks that construct a lovely (pointless) life.

This article initially appeared within the Next Big Idea Club journal and is reprinted with permission.