Can’t Keep your Head Up?

Do you ever feel purposeless, like you’re not sure what’s the whole point of life? Do you feel like you have a pointless life? I get it. I’ve been there. When life feels pointless, it’s hard to keep getting up every morning to go through the motions.

Some days we blame our pointless life on our stupid jobs, or our bills, or our flagging and flailing relationships. But when we change our circumstances and still end up feeling like something’s missing in life, that’s when it starts to get weird.

What if the problem is with ME, not with my circumstances?

Maybe the problem is with you. Maybe you’re making yourself miserable by buying into some of the most common misbeliefs that make us feel like life is pointless. Here are 7 misbeliefs guaranteed to make you feel like life is pointless.

Misbelief 1: Living with Purpose Will Make Me Feel Happy.

Happiness and purpose are not the same thing. Although these two types of well-being are related, there does not seem to be evidence that one causes the other. Lots of people who have pursued meaningful goals and passions have been quite unhappy. 

The truth is, having a strong sense of purpose in life is ultimately more satisfying. Just take care not to confuse the two. The misbelief here is expecting to find happiness from pursuing your purpose, then giving up on meaningful goals when they fail to yield that return.

Misbelief 2: It’s Pointless to Do Stuff Nobody Ever Knows About.

“If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it, did it make a sound?”

Some people feel that it’s pointless to do stuff that nobody ever knows about. Like the tree that falls in the forest with no observer, they feel that their personal projects and dreams have to be verified by other people before becoming truly “real.”

So don’t let yourself trip up on those long, dreary days in the forest when nobody can hear or see your efforts. Instead, believe that everything you’re doing is part of the larger process.

Misbelief 3: It’s Pointless to Do Stuff Nobody Else Cares About.

There are a lot of reasons why you might be feeling like life is pointless. It could be a recently ended relationship, losing your job, or feeling overwhelmed about where life is heading. Whatever the case, you’ve dutifully made a list of all the things that interest you. You’ve thought up anything you could possibly imagine being passionate about.

Then, taking a long look at your list, you rip it to shreds. Nobody cares about this stuff! You tell yourself harshly.

If you’re telling yourself that it’s pointless to do things that nobody cares about, you’re missing out on an expression of your most authentic self.

At the end of the day, you’ll be hard pressed to find something that nobody cares about. Personally, I think it’s weird to make videos about dropping mentos into Coke bottles, and I think it’s weird to be excited about cryptography, but that hasn’t stopped people from becoming rich and famous by pursuing these interests.

Misbelief 4: It’s Terrible to Have Uncertainty About My Purpose in Life.

It’s terrible to have uncertainty about my purpose in life, right?

Well, maybe not. Maybe I make myself feel terrible about it by giving myself permission to label the situation as “terrible.” Feeling a bit aimless and adrift is uncomfortable indeed, but it’s not as bad as losing my wife or having my eye gouged out.

Try it. Reframe your aimless situation as “uncomfortable” rather than “terrible.” Say out loud, “this situation is really uncomfortable, but I can endure it.” Doesn’t it feel like you’re in so much more control?

By taking care how we label our world, we avoid serious misbeliefs that will make us feel like life is pointless.

Misbelief 5: There’s One Single Purpose for My Life, and Everything Hinges on Me Finding It.

Your life purpose is not some etherial destiny “out there” waiting for heroic discovery. You do NOT need to change your mind a dozen times, waiting for the aha moment. You are living purposefully now, today, living out your purpose in humble little ways every moment. Don’t fall for the misbelief that there’s only one purpose in your life — it’s guaranteed to make you feel like your current (probably monotonous) life is pointless.

After a certain amount of soul searching, life experience, and introspection, there’s a point where we have to realize that what we’re doing now is already more than meaningful.

Misbelief 6: Everything in Life Has a Purpose

Spoiler alert: this misbelief is followed by the corollary, “nothing in life has a purpose.”

The idea that everything in life has a purpose is often encountered in overly spiritualized contexts. When bad things happen, it is karma. When your child dies an agonizing death, it was God’s will. A random act of kindness must have been related to your horoscope. And so on…

People can literally make themselves insane by trying to find reasons for the things that happen to them. Why are little girls raped? Why are little boys beaten by alcoholic dads? Why do innocent babies die?

I am a person of faith. I think I have partial and limited answers to these questions. But I don’t have complete answers that can adequately explain the mysteries of depravity and tragedy. And I’m not so spiritual as to believe that everything that happens has a purpose that we are meant to figure out.

While many things in life have meaning, not everything does. It’s ok to admit that some things happen without any reason. If you staunchly campaign for the position that everything in life happens for a reason, at some point you’re guaranteed to start feeling pretty awful. Trust that things happen for the best!

Misbelief 7: Nothing in Life Has a Purpose

Misbelief 6 stated that everything has a purpose. The opposite is also an unhelpful misbelief: nothing has a purpose.

The narrative usually goes something like this:

  • There’s no meaning in life.
  • You can create “meaning” for yourself, but it would just be a mask over an absurdly meaningless life.
  • The truly strong, brave people don’t need this mask — they can look life straight in the eyes and admit it’s meaningless.
  • The weak people need the mask — they create a subjective sense of meaning or else drown in despair.

Somehow, we have lost a sense of connectedness with the bigger context. Viewing ourselves as separate from family structures, urban ecosystems, and environmental connections will certainly allow us to buy into the misbelief that nothing in life has meaning.

I may or may not have met you, but I’m convinced that your life is not pointless.

You are way too valuable to this planet to allow yourself to fall for any of these misbeliefs that will make you devalue yourself to that point. Your life is important. Weeding out these damaging misbeliefs will help you to truly believe what I believe: that your life matters!

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