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How did I get here?! - Part 2

Last week, I wrote a post 'How did I get here?!' and decided to elaborate on it a bit more today.

A priest who gives up all material pleasures in order to dedicate her life to serving the poor and the needy, a startup founder that chooses to spend twice as much time every week slaving away in an attempt to ship her product instead of working a well-paid corporate job, a soldier who puts his life on the line in battling the enemy, a terrorist who straps a bomb around himself and willingly blows himself up (along with others around him), all have something in common.

They derive a sense of deep meaning from what they do and are able to fully commit themselves to the cause. While such a sense of commitment is commendable in some cases (priest and startup founder) and is misplaced in some cases (terrorist and possibly even the soldier), there is still the same level of underlying commitment that arises out of a sense of meaning that these people derive from their work and actions.

When we are going through a period where we lack the motivation, when we're in a rut, it is because we have lost that sense of meaning. We find ourselves in a place where we are no longer deriving any meaning out of what we are doing.

When we don't derive any meaning out of what we are doing, we can't simply stop doing it. Because the bills still need to be paid and stomachs need to be fed. So we put on a fake smile and go out into the world and do what's expected of us, if only barely, and come back home, all the while thinking to ourselves 'How did I get here?!'.

Over the centuries, we have found a variety of ways in which to derive meaning in our lives. While the examples I started the post with are among the more extreme, millions of people have derived meaning from seemingly mundane things - like love for their family, a sense of duty to their parents, or even the slightest bit of self love and ambition for themselves.

A lack of motivation always correlates with a lack of such meaning.

The good thing is, we are free to choose what gives us meaning. While the popular choices still seem to be religion and family, among the younger generation, the popular choice is moving away from these traditional ones and gravitating more towards the work we do and how we use our time.

The rise of the side hustle, the rise of art and creation - everything from writing to creating Youtube videos or Instagram stories, the rise of choosing work that we believe in over work that simply pays well, all point to this trend.

Whenever I've lacked motivation, I've tried to address this underlying cause to try and find meaning in what I do.

You might still hear a lot of advice that translates to, "Just pull up your socks, put on a smile and keep showing up until you feel motivated again", but that is like putting a bandaid on a torn artery. What is needed is to find that sense of meaning again.

While Hinduism calls this dharma or a person's virtue, I like to think of it as different processes that I commit to. It can be the practice of writing daily, or working out daily, or any of the hundreds of other processes I incorporate in my life. 

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