My answer was found by having kids. For me, one of the absolute best things about having kids was that it eliminated all doubt: I now had a 100% crystal clear main quest that trivially answers, "what should I be doing right now?" if I'm ever not sure. Everything else in life, especially my career, is just a side quest now.
Why am I working? Before kids I foolishly thought it had something to do with being part of a team that is going to really change the world somehow. Now I do it to make money. And by not fooling myself about the "change the world" nonsense, it's now very easy to not work past 5pm, not have Slack on my phone, and be wholly present with my family most of my week. It helps me pick working less over getting raises or being promoted to a position that will demand I'm always reachable. It helps me decide, "do I want to be doing this hobby, or do I want to play with my kids?" It helps me make hobbies more interesting by involving my kids. It helps me never feel like I'm wasting my time here. If I go months without working on some project or developing some set of skills, no problem!
The value of family is one of those things that's a huge blind spot for "intellectual-types", but completely obvious to most normal people over the age of 25. It's too easy to think you're above it all, that your intelligence means you must have a higher calling, or that you're Not Like Other People. But it's not true. It takes humility to acknowledge that you're behind the curve in figuring this out, but better to learn it the hard way than before it's too late.
Oh, I've definitely figured it out. My family holds relatively little importance to me and I absolutely loathe the mere idea of raising children, and no amount of additional life experience is going to change that (to the point that "having children" is easily one of the worst "realistic/reasonable" things I can imagine happening to me).
I also didn’t know what the answer was for a long time. I count myself lucky that I lucked into the path that led to the best outcome for me once I did figure it out. Relentlessly pursued money for the first decade and a half of my career. Worked at boring FAANGs and job hopped the moment my compensation flat-lined. Then started a family, realized the answer for me was “family time” and am pivoting to optimizing for predictable work hours and free time. Now I’m running out the clock at my current employer. My next one, if I choose to have one, will be one that can guarantee copious free time.
If I had been more idealistic in my young adult years, I would have most likely grinded hard at some “change the world” startup that fizzled out and now I’d be frantically scrambling to afford a house.
Have you not described just another goal to pursue, but in this case one that is very long-term and leaves you so busy you have no time to contemplate anything else? Also, is it that it really eliminated all doubt, or is it that you had no other realistic choice once the children were born?
What happens once your children grow up and leave? You are back in the original situation, except worse - the relationship with your spouse has now likely deteriorated, and you have now likely neglected your hobbies and interests (and often even your health) to the point you don't even know how to live by yourself anymore. Most parents do not seem to deal with that well, trying to hold on, pushing for grandchildren etc.
It does not seem like a solution at all, just a more extreme version of 'we keep grinding, hoping we'll achieve X and then we'll be content forever, only to find merely emptiness on the other side' where you voluntarily choose to intensify your grind dramatically and leave yourself no alternatives.
In fact, just substituting 'by having kids' with another such activity that dramatically intensifies your grind and leaves you no alternatives seems to work just as well. "My answer was found by [going on a trek through the Sinai desert/giving everything to charity and going to live on a homestead away from civilization/circumnavigating the world on a small boat]. For me, one of the absolute best things about it was that it eliminated all doubt: I now had a 100% crystal clear main quest that trivially answers, 'what should I be doing right now?' if I'm ever not sure. Everything else in life is just a side quest"
I've long thought that having kids galvanized a person's purpose in life and that is why people reflect back on how it was some of the best times of their life. This is in spite of the research that shows parents consistently more unhappy while actually raising kids. I think there is are other analogous dichotomies: people in the military, high level athletes, the way people refer to the bombing of England in WW2 as the "good ol' days", etc.
The point is people need a purpose they can rally their life around. They need to feel needed by their society for fulfillment.
I mean, we are hugely complicated gene-replication/improvement machines. So you have come to the ultimate conclusion without actually spelling it out.
If you really go to the basics then ones life is about attracting the best other-side of the genes to replicate with (this is the part where you try to impress with brains/humor/sportscar that you have the best available genes) and make sure they survive + get a nice boost in their part of attracting best genes.
I'd say there is an extra dimension now to make sure the environment where generations down genes of yourself have a good chance of surviving, but this is not yet programmed into genes.
I’ll let you know when I figure that out. But the general idea I have in mind is: figure it out by chasing a lot of things a little bit and see what drives you the most. (and appreciate that it can change and that’s okay!)
Who says you are supposed to enjoy the journey? As a trivial example, 'the journey' of studying for an important exam is hard work, and you would enjoy playing video games instead a lot more. But by focusing on the destination and enduring hardship, you ace your exam, which has a massive effect on the rest of your life. Was the destination not worth it?
The journey is all of your life. I believe you should aim for an enjoyable journey [of life], not to be confused with short term journeys and destinations.
In your example, if studying and acing your exam gives you more happiness in the long run (despite less happiness in the short term), it's worth it to suffer a bit now and study. If acing your exam doesn't give you more happiness in the long run, then compare it against the happiness you get if you don't ace it, and make a decision.
Unprofitable startup I'm working for told me we're changing the world. I am all in. My health is getting deteriorated, I'm getting some extra weight. But it's well worth it, because my performance is 106%. I am also thinking about my team, because we're the family. I like small little things in life, like enjoying my $15 lunch credit (it's just a plain rice, plus GrubHub delivery and service fee).
One day I will get my promotion, so I can make even bigger impact. But for the next 5 years I should focus on self-education. We have unlimited access to Udemy courses, and my manager says it's a good starting point.
A semi-controversial take for OP and other commenters like OP: Try religion out.
These kids of questions and angsts are very normal and very old. Religion has been there to help with this for a very very long time. If not a daily/weekly practice, then the religious texts that you prefer may help.
Surely pursuing philosophy would be a better advice than pursuing religion? Religions do tend to include some philosophy but with a lot of mysticism and other stuff thrown in, and the philosophy itself is often not very well thought through. Why not just go for the philosophy itself? Stoicism could be a great start with Seneca's "Letters from a stoic".
Anyone not experiencing the sublime joy of unification and oneness with the market is really missing out. The process of transcending material constraint by commodifying their labor so that it can rise to the platonic ideal of profit hasn't truly lived. Nothing else comes close.
OP if you watch this, don’t take it too seriously (it is a joke, but with kernel of truth). But generally if you’re feeling that way it might be time to step back and focus on other parts of your life (family, friends, hobbies, mental and physical health, travel, etc).
God I love this question. I ask the exact same thing at least twice a week. I use to have real depression over this issue.
I have zero answers for you. Personally, I learned to truly be ok with the answer "we don't know yet, but we're working toward it together". If you can somehow get to that point, you'll feel a little ease and maybe even a bit more connection with the rest of humanity.
I don't feel like most of humanity cares or even thinks about this in any regular interval, but I do. Might sound lame, but I feel like the right thing to do is contribute to meaningful work (space travel, medicine, sustainable energy, <noble cause X>) and focus on immediate problems in those areas.
People like you and I will never be around to see if humans collectively find good answers to these questions, but the same can be said about all the humans before us that got us to this point, and I'm truly thankful for what they built so far for us.
I'm 47. After worrying a lot about this, I came to the conclusion that the objective should be to be comfortable and that's it. If you have a roof over your head, can save some money and are able to travel and have fun, you've made it. Everything else is basically bullshit.
Also, don't create unnecessary problems for yourself - keep it simple. Don't have kids if you don't want to. Don't buy a car if you don't need it. Don't buy a huge house if all your need is 2 bedrooms. In other words, don't measure your success by external metrics.
I don't know what anyone else is chasing, but I know precisely what my primary goal is. I want to live a life of idle leisure. I'm 20% of the way to my goal now that I only work 4 days (32 hours) a week. It may be that I don't get to 100% until retirement, if I'm even able to retire at all. It may be that I have a setback and end up working 5 days again. It may be that I get extremely lucky earlier than that.
I know that my end goal is so unrealistic, I am very unlikely reach it if I try to make it in one step. Instead I'm always looking for small steps I can take to just get a little bit closer. And with that mindset, I have made real progress.
I had a very stable job already that I was perfectly happy to stay at. This meant that if I interviewed at other places I could negotiate from a position of extreme strength.
So I did exactly that. I interviewed at places and when I reached the offer phase I asked for a lot. The first offer I got was not good enough, so I didn't accept it. The next one I was able to convince them to let me work four days. It was written in my offer letter and everything. I signed it, and have been working 32 hour weeks since July.
Not OP but I’d recommend looking at the r/FIRE, r/LeanFIRE, r/ChubbyFIRE, and r/FatFIRE as starting points for how people in various situations retire early, often by scaling from 5 workdays to 0 workdays over time rather than abruptly in the traditional retirement context.
Get yourself to a therapist, and evaluated by a psychiatrist. Concerns around holistic well-being aside, it is an urgent practical matter for you to be able to sustain yourself.
For me, the combination of COVID, a soul-sucking employer (though with a fantastic team I miss very much), and being unable to see my family on the other side of the planet for three years was too much. I'd have been fired were it not for the fantastic team. I had almost nowhere else to turn, so I finally took the (extensive) advice to see a therapist. Between therapy and psychiatry I found what was needed to get myself out of the awful job and into one I enjoy, and I can be productive again.
Once sustaining yourself is worked out and the pressure is off, you can work on the more holistic aspects.
Good luck mate! Happy to talk further in the comments if you'd like.
Joy. "Men are that they might have joy." (2 Nephi 2:24 or so, in the Book of Mormon). Money doesn't drive it, but is a tool only. I have much more at my web site (in profile), including how I know this for myself. We can have peace and joy in this life, and eternal life in the world to come, starting now, based on our choices.
Sources of joy including learning, and service to others, especially family. In my church we have made promises to do this and it brings the most satisfaction in life, as far as I can see.
This also provides tools to handle the hard things in life (which can become growing experiences, to become our best, now and later on).
(thoughtful comments appreciated with any downvotes)
(ps: one way to serve others is by trying out https://justserve.org if it is available in your area -- a free site linking volunteers with community groups that can use volunteers.)
This is such a funny question. It's not a particularly uncommon one either, but I find it so peculiar.
Who's "we" here? Are you saying "we're" the same, you and I? Are you using the royal "we"? Are you a group of people running this same account? But I suppose I do know the answer to that question, "we" is the group of people like you that is still fervently participating in the rat race.
Live as you can, live as you should. There's not much else I or anyone else can really say. If you have goals, try to achieve them. If you fail, get back up. If you succeed, keep on going. What are we going after? We're just living. Is there an end? Unfortunately, yes. But don't take it so seriously.
Read, meditate, go see a therapist, maybe take some drugs. You'll figure it out.
You might be depressed out burnt out. You might be at a job that is demoralizing. For a while, I used productivity as a replacement for fulfillment, and work as a distraction from difficult parts of life.
I eventually realized that I was miserable, and focusing on productivity just made me better at being miserable fast. Some people get joy out of optimizing their life - I don't.
I get joy out of working with people I respect towards a shared goal. As long as it's not actively harmful, I don't care what that goal is. I found a team that I liked which scratches that itch. I spend my free time with friends and family, reading, and doing other activities that are just existing. It works well for me
Yeah, I feel that. I just started full time work a couple weeks ago after avoiding it since December 2021. And I'm pretty happy with it so far.
What worked for me was holding out until I found a team with people I connected with. And I know that will change as the company grows. I wanted people who were philosophically aligned about how to work and how work should relate to life.
First of all, these are valid feelings so don't just discard them. They are normal. They reflect your values. You want your life to have meaning, you want to have an impact on the world, you want to be happy. These are good things. They get you out of bed each day and motivate you.
Now, just learn to tone your emotional response to these thoughts from 100% to like 20%. Remember that your desire to grind is rooted in positive values, but don't let them run amok and take over your life. Acknowledge them, but realize they are not the be-all end-all.
For me, I'm chasing a great team to work alongside. I want to sit next to the developer I can ask about the pro/cons of any web development framework, that can help me analyze a heap dump, or explain why some transitive dependency is getting pulled in at compile time.
Contentedness can be found doing things for other people, e:g if you have kids, if the software you work on helps others, if you do some caring for relatives, if you are a good friend. Meaning isn't hard to find IMHO but it involves doing things for other people! The happiest people I know do that so much, they're far too busy to have angst about "what's my purpose" . But human nature being what it is, we tend to do stuff for ourselves instead, which doesn't satisfy in the same way. I am guilty of that at times like alone else. The person I believe had the most smart things to say about this subject was Jesus. Whether he was the son of God or not is a topic for another time. ;) I happen to think he was, and is. Even for people who doesn't think he was, if you look at what he was reported to have said, it seems a lot smarter to me than anything said by any other human. Basically distills to "love your neighbour as yourself". Just my 2p, others may strongly disagree, and that seems OK to me. :)
There's a simple algorithm, similar to the "Five Why's" technique that uses a particular question to elucidate the chain of intentions between a given behavior and it's deepest motivation.
Using this algorithm, it turns out that all behavior is directed toward achieving certain "core states". There are five of them and I forget exactly what they are, but um, Bliss, Oneness, Okayness, Being, and something else...
Anyway, as you might imagine, these "core states" are incredibly nice, and they are also not dependent on anything, so once you experience them through the process the original behavior is typically transformed in a deep and profound way.
So that's what we're chasing: these profound states of being.
The problem is that we are chasing them using very complicated and counter-productive and indirect methods. We are yak shaving.
Fortunately, these folks in Colorado came up with the aforementioned algorithm and it's slowly spreading. I figure it's a pretty major advance in the history of psychology, eh? A short easy path to healing and happiness and growth...
 Not to be mysterious, it's "What do you want, through having that, that's even more important?" but there's more to the process than just that question, please don't experiment without learning the whole thing first, okay?
The pursuit of outcomes, or the search for fulfillment and satisfaction, is a fundamental aspect of human nature. It is natural to strive for goals and to desire to improve one's circumstances. However, it is also true that the attainment of a goal does not necessarily bring lasting satisfaction. This phenomenon is often referred to as the "hedonic treadmill," where people quickly adapt to new levels of achievement and return to a baseline level of happiness. The key to finding fulfillment in life may lie in finding a balance between setting and working towards goals while also finding contentment in the present moment and cultivating a sense of purpose. Additionally, it's important to be mindful that the pursuit of material things may not bring the ultimate happiness, it's also important to focus on experiences, relationships and personal growth
Short-term outcomes: satisfy biological and psychological needs now.
Long-term outcomes: satisfy biological and psychological needs later.
Biological needs are pretty obvious (e.g., food).
Psychological needs are less obvious (what makes you happy). These can range from mere entertainment all the way to being creative.
For me the real thing is creation. Being creative makes me happy. Being a good parent makes me happy because that means my children get to be happy, and having and raising children is -for many people- part of what it means to be creative.
> Is there even an end to this?
Yes, there is. Individuals die. Species become extinct. Enjoy the ride, and do good, while it lasts.
To shed some light on this question, which we all have at some point in our lives, I recommend reading Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. It provided me a completely different way to see life, and whenever I forget, I go back to this book.
6 Remember him—before the silver cord is severed,
and the golden bowl is broken;
before the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
and the wheel broken at the well,
7 and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
8 “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.
“Everything is meaningless!”
13 Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.
You really poked all the religious and spiritual nuts with that question.
Why does there have to be an objective? Do the things you enjoy doing. Sometimes a bit of grind is enjoyable, sometimes it's necessary to afford to live.
I think of everything as things to pass the time until I die. If you spend a lot of time on things that you don't enjoy and they aren't a path to more enjoyable past times then reevaluate. Work less and hobby more and remember, the goal is not to end up with all the money, the goal is to maximize your time spent doing enjoyable activities.
You are creating wealth for shareholders, who are writing emails about cutting your job out because they can't afford a new boat due to the downturn. Get back to work you peasant. /s
Jokes aside, the rat race is a very American thing (maybe also a thing in other developing countries). To be very honest, most people wouldn't mind a layoff if it didn't destroy their ability to stay alive in this country.
There is a reason why more and more Americans want to emigrate to cheaper countries. They want to stay alive without being tied to an employer.
Simple to answer, hard to accept: we don't know what, but we chase because we are built to. The hopes and dreams for the achievement and the normalization after it are working as intended. It's the mechanism that keeps us from stopping. We rationalize the direction, but the truth is we have little freedom in choosing it. As an individual all this makes little sense, but as a species it has gotten us pretty far. And it has done so by making as many people chase in as many directions as possible.
Consider Schopenhauer‘s telic vs atelic pursuits vis-a-vis happiness. Telic pursuits are those like you reference, badges of honor that have an end (job promotion, raise, bigger house, whatever). These are inevitably and ultimately unsatisfying. Atelic pursuits, on the other hand, have no end. Like a craftsman, you are always honing them, never “done”. These are where fulfillment comes from. Being the best [x] you can be. Father, runner, etc. The journey is the destination.
I just decided to focus on getting through life as comfortably as possible. Chasing after extra money I don't need doing things I don't want to just means subsidizing less hard-working people at the expense of my own well being.
If I were in the US and could make $500k for being a typical employee then I may have been more motivated. It's not that I don't have my own business plans, but I'm generally taking it easy outside of a corporate career.
Everyone enters the layercake at different layers depending on opportunity/privilege/luck/etc and the idea is to ascend the layers. Not everyone chooses to play, not everyone wants to play, but the opportunity to is get as far up to the top as you can.
The higher the layer you are on, the more you get to benefit from the foundation created by the layers below and benefit from the opportunity above you.
The pressure to "use the time you have in a wise manner" may be part of what is driving the OPs angst that they must focus energy on some worthwhile end. Someone already mentioned Oliver Burke's book 4000 Weeks but it does a fairly good job of describing a different point of view.
For me, it's about the process as much as the outcome.
I don't write code only because I want to achieve some distant future goal. I write code because that's part of who I am in the moment. I enjoy typing, I enjoy problem-solving, I enjoy building things, etc. Like a spider weaving a web, it has become part of my nature.
The beauty of humans is that we are general purpose machines, which can do a wide variety of things, because of how our bodies are, especially our hands.
The future of course is also important. Greater financial independence, learning new skills, improving one's character, meeting interesting personalities. All these of course are things we can hope for and strive for, but should also try to have reasonable expectations about, and avoid excessive entitlement.
First stage: As Animals, we are chasing our impulses. It is just LIFE.
Second stage : As Rational Beings, we are chasing our "personal" desires/goals. Most people, most of the time, are content to feel the satisfaction and move on to the next one.
However, for some, sometimes, a voice emerges, a nagging voice. It says: "What are we even chasing?". The satisfaction is not there anymore. The wall crumbles, the void is overwhelming. Sometimes it is called depression.
Third Stage: This is what some would call “Spiritual”: as Spiritual beings, we are chasing...that void. Or more to the point, the void is chasing us (especially if we ignore it). Yes maybe it is not a "mere" (as you said) emptiness afterall. Maybe we should pay special attention to what this "emptiness" is telling us.
There is no single answer. You search for and decide what makes life meaningful for you.
There are a lot of great answers in this thread, I particularly like inphovore and Waterluvian's, but yours might be different.
You need some minimal things to find happiness, enough food, shelter, and health. Sadly, in the US, we don't get those things, but there are places that can help you. You may need to move. You may need to live with family, friends, or strangers to get started on your journey. But, you must start your journey and only you can do it.
Read quotes from Mark Twain, The Obstacle is the Way, and The Conquest of Happiness.
Do something that brings you joy and embrace it -- this is particular hard for me. I'm still searching after 50 years.
Seize life! Eat bread with gusto,
Drink wine with a robust heart.
Oh yes—God takes pleasure in your pleasure!
Dress festively every morning.
Don’t skimp on colors and scarves.
Relish life with the spouse you love
Each and every day of your precarious life.
Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchange
For the hard work of staying alive.
Make the most of each one!
Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily!
This is your last and only chance at it,
For there’s neither work to do nor thoughts to think
In the company of the dead, where you’re most certainly headed.
c. 450 bce. And we think existentialism is some new thing ...
To continually improve something (yourself or something in the world), or to chase goals, it kinds works. As we get closer or see improvement, our brains like that. Just be sure to chase the right goals. And it is a better plan than the alternative.
If you want a somewhat existential answer, I treat my life like I treat my art. It's open for interpretation but I know what I'm trying to say with my life. Figure out what you want your life to say and create it as best you can.
This is actually great advice, even if it seems like a disposable recommendation. Why try to get wisdom from HN comments when you can plumb the depths of the wisdom of those who have been to hell and back to get that wisdom?
Read some philosophers who have didicated writings handling those topics. It might change your views on the matter in a more meaningful way than HN crowd.
I would try to find something, I am passionate about and try to use my skillset in that area. There is plenty there .
Personally, I try to make the world just a little better and keep my physical and mental well being in check.
Life's a piece of shit (Oooh)
When you look at it
Life's a laugh and death's a joke, it's true (Oooh)
You'll see it's all a show (Oooh)
Keep 'em laughin' as you go
Just remember that the last laugh is on you (Oooh)
I don't enjoy living under constant threat to my life and imposed choice of either being recruited (war) or jailed, even regardless of poor health condition. I'd really love to change this and do what I love (like art and programming). But it's a bit laughable )
Try not to let the negative feelings overwhelm you. You can experience them, but let them flow over, around, and past you. Stay connected to your physical body in the present moment. Don’t focus so much on what’s ahead or what’s behind. Every moment is a fresh new moment and experience.
Suggest you try meditation. And maybe make some room for frivolous, creative activities, if you can.
I think we should pursue "human flourishing." What that means for each individual will be very different. It could be enjoying time with family and friends, creating or appreciating art, being involved in sports, gardening, raising animals, discussing philosophy or theology, electronics, cooking, etc, etc. The point is to flourish in this precious life.
On the societal level, I think promoting human flourishing means first making sure everyone's basic needs are met (shelter, food, clothing, healthcare).
The next step for society to promote human flourishing is to give people more time away from work to pursue their own things, and to that end I'm a proponent of the 4 day (32 hour) work week replacing the standard 40 hour work week.
Another important step in promoting human flourishing is for towns to design physical spaces to encourage community and satisfying daily rhythms. There should be more places like libraries, local cafes, community centers, parks, etc where people can meet with other people. And there should be a concerted effort to reduce the need for cars. Places that are designed to encourage walking and biking are generally more pleasant than places that are designed around cars. There's less paved space for highways and parking lots, and more space for interesting places to visit along with more greenery. Not to mention the gentle exercise.
I think there's more our society can do to promote human flourishing, but those are big ones. The biggest point is that capitalist societies, especially the United States (the heart of capitalism), prioritize profit over human flourishing. Sprawling highways, homelessness, financially brutal healthcare, inadequate paternity leave, and bad work/life balances are all things that can be changed if we, as a society, want them to be changed. But to do that, we have to stop doing what capitalists want and instead build what we want.
If I didn't have a purpose in life already, I might think of reaching for the stars -- literally. Make human society better (constitutional and principled behavior, honesty, Golden Rule, etc, but without restricting freedom, i.e., as founders of USA saw freedom), but then become multiplanetary, advance science etc etc. Like in Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy or such books. Or something along those lines.
CS Lewis captured this perfectly in his essay " The Inner Ring". TLDR: there is none.
>As long as you are governed by that desire you will never get what you want. You are trying to peel an onion: if you succeed there will be nothing left. Until you conquer the fear of being an outsider, an outsider you will remain.
>If all you want is to be in the know, your pleasure will be short lived. The circle cannot have from within the charm it had from outside. By the very act of admitting you it has lost its magic.
>You merely wanted to be “in.” And that is a pleasure that cannot last. As soon as your new associates have been staled to you by custom, you will be looking for another Ring. The rainbow’s end will still be ahead of you. The old ring will now be only the drab background for your endeavor to enter the new one.
Humanity has made all of our basic needs (shelter, food, water, land) inaccessible without lots of money. And, so we're forced into being slaves of govt and capitalism for most of our lives to earn a living. It's just something we have to accept. The material standard of living (as far shelter goes) has been dropping for the last 50 or even 200 years now, so people need to work harder and harder to reach basic needs.
There's no end to it until you've got more than enough investible assets to cover your future rent. and since there's no real such thing as land/house ownership, it makes that even harder.
Doctors don’t have answers. They’ll give you SSRIs which will numb your emotions and ruin your drive, or they’ll refer you to a therapist who will take your money in exchange for listening to you vent once a week.
Don't discount talk therapy as an aid to reduce depression symptoms. I did different medications for 10 years with limited or adverse results; talk therapy by comparison has been way more effective, even if it's a big rubber duck session sometimes. I'm fortunate to have found a therapist that takes my insurance though so YMMV
I think that if God is really there (not just as a word, not just as an idea, but as Someone who really exists), and if He can be known, then that's worth chasing.
A shiny new car? Not so much. As Dion said, "Cadillacs end up in the junkyard."
Money? As Tim O'Reilly said, "Money is like gasoline during a road trip. You don't want to run out of gas on your trip, but you're not doing a tour of gas stations. We need to pay attention to money, but it shouldn't be about the money."
Me? It really shouldn't be about me, either. I've seen that "me" is a really small space. "Me" isn't enough to make me happy.
To the parent: If I may ask, where did you wind up? A Christian Marxist? An atheist that respects some of the teaching and who is skeptical of capitalism? Or where?
Yes, just a Jesus-following (not in a church other than for volunteer work) commie at this point. Figure the point of all this is to have kids and help build the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, the goal eventually being a society that doesn't require anyone to work. Heaven is free time.