Meaning of Life vs The Pain-Pleasure Spectrum


Boy, we all spend too much time thinking of meaning of life (MOL). And what waste that is.

Now, after spending around a decade since my teen life, it feels like such a stupid thing to waste time on. And the biggest culprit which dragged us into this is probably something to do with the self-help industry and the buddhafication of self-help which happened. The whole “find the MOL” became a cool thing and we all collectively fell for it.

I even ended up reading the Viktor Frankl book by the very name man’s search for meaning and while the book hits you very strongly, now when I think back about it, it does not do so because it breaks any new ground on find MOL or defining MOL, it does it by painting that gruesome picture of what the Nazis put people through. You stew in that emotion of horror and somehow connect the dots that these strong emotions are coming up because the writer somehow explained the MOL which he mentions is “love” or whatever – meh. If anything, stopping what the Nazis did from happening again is probably the best MOL one can get from that book.

Sam Harris makes these good points about how we should focus on the pain-pleasure spectrum for conscious beings and boy does that make things easy.

Hunger and starvation don’t feel great so you go get some food, and if all you had was a life with enough food, that would suck too, so you buy a bunch of things like a car, TV, some gadgets and to do all this you go to work. Simple. Why does any of that need “meaning”?

Now I know, we have the “materialistic” hippie nonsense to deal with when you are out and about living your life. But the funny thing is the hippies are only following the pain-pleasure principle — holding down a job so you can enjoy your nice house takes effort — which to some (due to whatever reasons) is a pain, quite understandably, so you go live in a trailer and do the whole minimalistic thing, which is nothing but hippie pleasure — of not having to worry about too much stuff. Pretty fair deal.

The problems only start because hippies seem to also have this innate need to point fingers at others for being “materialistic”, “power-hungry” or something else. They somehow miss the point that being a CEO and driving BMWs is just on someone’s pleasure side of things.

And the reasons for the dichotomies between hippies and CEOs in our species can be genetic, environmental, upbringing and so many more.

No one is right or wrong here.

And on a passing note just to mention it, yes causing pain to others can be a great pleasure too. The entire point of civilization, culture, and governments is to stop such people from causing too much damage and it doesn’t have to take anything away from the idea of chasing pleasure in and of itself.

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