7 Ways Society is Tricking Us About What is Meaningful

society is tricking us about what is meaningful

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”no” hundred_percent_height=”no” hundred_percent_height_scroll=”no” hundred_percent_height_center_content=”yes” equal_height_columns=”no” menu_anchor=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” status=”published” publish_date=”” class=”@media only screen and ( min-width: 800px ) {padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 5px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 5px; }” id=”” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_position=”center center” background_repeat=”no-repeat” fade=”no” background_parallax=”none” enable_mobile=”no” parallax_speed=”0.3″ video_mp4=”” video_webm=”” video_ogv=”” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_loop=”yes” video_mute=”yes” video_preview_image=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” padding_top=”” padding_right=”15%” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”15%” admin_label=”Large Screen text” type=”legacy”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ layout=”1_1″ spacing=”” center_content=”no” link=”” target=”_self” min_height=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_image_id=”” background_position=”left top” background_repeat=”no-repeat” hover_type=”none” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” border_position=”all” border_radius=”” box_shadow=”no” dimension_box_shadow=”” box_shadow_blur=”0″ box_shadow_spread=”0″ box_shadow_color=”” box_shadow_style=”” padding_top=”” padding_right=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”0px” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=”” last=”true” first=”true” border_sizes_top=”0″ border_sizes_bottom=”0″ border_sizes_left=”0″ border_sizes_right=”0″ type=”1_1″][fusion_text columns=”” column_min_width=”” column_spacing=”” rule_style=”default” rule_size=”” rule_color=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=””]
[/fusion_text][fusion_text columns=”” column_min_width=”” column_spacing=”” rule_style=”default” rule_size=”” rule_color=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=””]

Learn the ways society is tricking as about what is meaningful.

I want you to imagine yourself back in math class. Your teacher is writing various numbers and equations on the board. Meanwhile, you’re listening intently and scribbling notes in your notebook (if you were a bad student, pretend you were scribbling notes).

You understand that you’ll need to know these rules to solve the problem. If you miss a step or screw up an equation, then you’ll never make it to the final answer.

The same sentiment can be applied to make a meaningful life. You need to look for certain things and prioritize specific patterns to achieve the end result you’re looking for.

This should make sense, but there’s a catch. We haven’t been given a good teacher.

Just as we trusted wholeheartedly in our math teacher to tell us what to do, we trust the people and messages around us (namely, society) to find meaning in life. Unfortunately, society is wrong.

Worse than that, there are many ways society is tricking us about what is meaningful.

And I’d wager to guess that you’re believing them. In fact, you’re probably taking notes.

.

Defining a Meaningful Life

It must be noted that a meaningful life is entirely different for everyone. What I find meaningful might be vastly different than what my Aunt Marlee finds meaningful (crafting, anyone???).

The fact that everyone’s definition of meaning is different is the first clue that society is tricking us.

Anytime our culture creates guidelines for everyone to follow, we should get suspicious. This isn’t The Giver, after all. Free thinking is one of the very aspects of meaning that we’re looking for.

That being said, there are four universal elements for a meaningful life that do apply to everyone. Within each category, we can individualize our version, but the categories hold true:

  1. Belonging: the connections we have with others.
  2. Purpose: the opportunity to help others and make a difference.
  3. Storytelling: the narrative we create for ourselves about our lives.
  4. Transcendence: the feeling when we are disconnected from the self and feel like we are a part of something bigger.

If we know that these four elements are necessary to find meaning in life, what wrongs thoughts are we being taught? Great question. The more we can be aware of false messages, the more we can lessen their effects on us.

It’s time to call the teacher out for being wrong.

.

7 Ways Society is Tricking Us About What is Meaningful

1. We get caught up with superficial connections.

In today’s age of technology, it is easy to feel as if we’re always connected to others. After all, I can pick up my phone and text, email, or call someone in a matter of seconds. I can also have multiple “conversations” going at once.

Giving us superficial connections and making them feel genuine is one of the ways society is tricking us about what is meaningful.

The interactions we have with others, while perhaps frequent, are lacking in depth. We’re having a lot of conversations, but none are meaningful. Often, these conversations are happening over text and social media.

When we are interacting in person, we’re not fully present in the conversation. Notifications from all of our “other connections” pull us away from the real-life conversation.

In the end, our society is getting us further away from these genuine connections. While we might be tricked into feeling connected, we’re actually one of the loneliest generations to come.

society is tricking us about what is meaningful

.

2. We get lost in a consumerism mindset.

Take an inventory of your purchases in the last month. You’ve probably bought necessities that you need, such as food and toiletries. Also, you’ve probably purchased a number of things you didn’t need (automatic tennis ball launcher, anyone?). We live in a society of consumerism and, well, it consumes us.

A consumerism mindset tricks us into attaching meaning to our purchases, rather than our core values. Ultimately, this makes us emphasize “junk values” in our lives.

Have you ever heard of “keeping up with the Jones’s”? The phenomenon still exists, only now the Jones’s can’t even keep up with the Jones’s. New things are coming out every day, and companies are spending billions of dollars to make sure we know about it.

Not only does consumerism prey on our tendency to compare ourselves to others, but it also taps into our scarcity mindset. We feel like our lives are unfulfilled unless we have the next greatest thing.

The race to buy more, more, more not only makes us neglect the important things, but it also leaves us feeling more disappointed each time the new purchase wears off.

.

3. We spend way too much time on media consumption.

It’d be one thing if society had some subtle spells that it cast on us while we were sleeping. Instead, it is much more apparent – yet we’re still easily influenced by the deceit.

The continuous access to media in our society takes away meaning from our lives.

The media can give us a lot of things. First, it allows us to stay updated on current events. Second, it lets us say in touch with distant friends (which may or may not be superficial). Third, it affords us new opportunities for accessing information and experiences. And I’m sure there are many benefits of media that I’m missing.

It’s not necessarily media that’s harmful. One of the ways society is tricking us about what is meaningful is how much exposure we’re getting to media, and how poor we are about being critical consumers.

We need to learn how to evaluate the information we’re receiving through a much more critical lens than we are. We also need to know how to limit ourselves. Unfortunately, society doesn’t encourage either strategy.

.

.

4. We over prioritize the importance of money for happiness.

If you had three wishes, what would you wish for? I bet you’d be hard-pressed to find many people who wouldn’t answer, “Money!” in their top three wishes. That’s because “money” would be the same answer to the question, “What would make your life happier?”

While money would make some people happier, it wouldn’t make everyone happier. In fact, studies have proven that after a certain income level, happiness doesn’t increase with the increase in income.

Now, I’m not advocating against the importance of money. We don’t live in a bartering society anymore, after all. (I’ll trade you three rolls of toilet paper for a new laptop…). For those people in the lower socioeconomic class, money would certainly buy a greater sense of security and happiness.

But money should not be the sole factor for meaning, despite what society is tricking us about what is meaningful.

If I put all my energy into how I need money to bring more meaning into my life, I’m setting myself up for failure. Instead, I need to look at what I think money would give me and evaluate how I can try to incorporate those things into my current life.

.

5. We compare ourselves to extraordinary (and unrealistic) metrics of success.

Given our excessive media consumption, we’re inundated with sensational news stories. This woman just broke a world record. This man just made a fortune off of his new business. This teenager just invented the cure for jaundice (note: I don’t know if there is a cure for jaundice).

Because of the stories we hear about, we begin to compare ourselves to extraordinary metrics of success. In doing so, we set ourselves up to fall short.

It’s always been my dream to publish a book. As a kid, I used to want to be the next prominent teenager writer. I compared myself to S.E. Hinton and Christopher James Paolini. All of a sudden, I was 22 years old, and the window for “sensational young author” had passed. My mindset shifted; now I had to focus on writing the next bestseller.

Somewhere along my journey, I never stopped to evaluate how unrealistic my metrics of success were.

One of the ways society is tricking us about what is meaningful is by making us believe “meaningful” equals extraordinary.

At the end of the day, we’re all very, very ordinary. The sooner we can accept this fact, and set our own metrics for success, the sooner we’ll lead a meaningful life.

.

6. We believe a state of permanent happiness is possible.

There’s a cute story on the internet that reads: When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.

We can all smile at this story and appreciate its message. Still, we need to be careful what we think of when we read the word “happy.”

Because of the glamorized media, and our own fear of vulnerability, we are rarely exposed to a person’s whole story. Instead, we see glimpses into the best parts: happy moments, positive experiences, and joyful emotions. If there is struggle shown, it’s usually followed with the triumphant finish. Rarely do we see the difficult journey needed to get there.

This one-sided viewpoint builds a false notion in our mind about what happiness is, and is one of the ways society is tricking us about what is meaningful. We falsely believe that we should be happy all the time (and that it’s possible to do so).

In reality, negative emotions are not only necessary but actually beneficial for us as human beings. It is through the balance of positive and negative emotions that we can achieve a meaningful life.

.

7. We adopt an individualistic mindset.

If you’ve read anything about humans as a species, you know that people are group-minded in nature. We derive meaning from our relationships and do infinitely better when drawing from the synergy of a team.

And yet, in direct contradiction to these facts, many societies are established around an individualistic mindset.

Since its founding, the United States has relied on rhetoric like the “American Dream” and the “self-made man” to emphasize a belief in individualistic pursuits. We are taught to focus on ourselves before others. This mindset, coupled with the human ego, doesn’t bode well for our group-minded needs.

Focusing on ourselves instead of others negates fulfillment, yet this is one of the ways society is tricking us about what is meaningful.

A group of researchers proved this in a large international study. They directed participants to pursue happiness. In countries with a collective mindset, the participants put their efforts toward helping others. Their happiness increased. However, in the countries with an individualistic mindset, the participants didn’t become any happier – because they only focused on themselves.

.

Conclusion

It can be difficult to clearly understand and pursue a meaningful life. Despite there being four universal elements for meaning, each individual still needs to define meaning for themselves.

This becomes challenging, however, when society is teaching us the wrong messages about meaning. In fact, there are seven ways society is tricking is about what is meaningful:

  1. We get caught up with superficial connections
  2. We get lost in a consumerism mindset.
  3. We spend way too much time on media consumption.
  4. We over prioritize the importance of money for happiness.
  5. We compare ourselves to extraordinary (and unrealistic) metrics of success.
  6. We believe a state of permanent happiness is possible.
  7. We adopt an individualistic mindset.

The more we’re aware of these false lessons, the more we can ignore them in our day-to-day lives. Consider where these beliefs manifest themselves in your life and how to overcome them.

[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container][fusion_global id=”3654″][fusion_builder_container admin_label=”Large Screen follow-up” hundred_percent=”no” hundred_percent_height=”no” hundred_percent_height_scroll=”no” hundred_percent_height_center_content=”yes” equal_height_columns=”no” menu_anchor=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” status=”published” publish_date=”” class=”” id=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” padding_top=”” padding_right=”25″ padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”25″ gradient_start_color=”” gradient_end_color=”” gradient_start_position=”0″ gradient_end_position=”100″ gradient_type=”linear” radial_direction=”center center” linear_angle=”180″ background_color=”#000000″ background_image=”” background_position=”center center” background_repeat=”no-repeat” fade=”no” background_parallax=”none” enable_mobile=”no” parallax_speed=”0.3″ background_blend_mode=”none” video_mp4=”” video_webm=”” video_ogv=”” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_loop=”yes” video_mute=”yes” video_preview_image=”” filter_hue=”0″ filter_saturation=”100″ filter_brightness=”100″ filter_contrast=”100″ filter_invert=”0″ filter_sepia=”0″ filter_opacity=”100″ filter_blur=”0″ filter_hue_hover=”0″ filter_saturation_hover=”100″ filter_brightness_hover=”100″ filter_contrast_hover=”100″ filter_invert_hover=”0″ filter_sepia_hover=”0″ filter_opacity_hover=”100″ filter_blur_hover=”0″ type=”legacy” border_sizes_top=”0px” border_sizes_bottom=”0px” border_sizes_left=”0px” border_sizes_right=”0px”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ layout=”1_1″ spacing=”” center_content=”no” link=”” target=”_self” min_height=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_image_id=”” background_position=”left top” background_repeat=”no-repeat” hover_type=”none” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” border_position=”all” border_radius=”” box_shadow=”no” dimension_box_shadow=”” box_shadow_blur=”0″ box_shadow_spread=”0″ box_shadow_color=”” box_shadow_style=”” padding_top=”” padding_right=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=”” last=”true” first=”true” border_sizes_top=”0″ border_sizes_bottom=”0″ border_sizes_left=”0″ border_sizes_right=”0″ type=”1_1″][fusion_title hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” content_align=”center” size=”1″ font_size=”” line_height=”” letter_spacing=”3px” margin_top=”5px” margin_bottom=”-40px” margin_top_mobile=”” margin_bottom_mobile=”” text_color=”#ffffff” style_type=”double solid” sep_color=”#0220ff” margin_top_small=”” margin_bottom_small=””]

FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS

[/fusion_title][fusion_text columns=”” column_min_width=”” column_spacing=”” rule_style=”default” rule_size=”” rule_color=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=””]

Comment below with answers, ideas, and more questions, or contact me to collaborate on a future post!

[/fusion_text][fusion_builder_row_inner][fusion_builder_column_inner type=”1_2″ layout=”1_2″ spacing=”” center_content=”no” hover_type=”none” link=”” target=”_self” min_height=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_position=”left top” background_repeat=”no-repeat” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” border_position=”all” border_radius=”” box_shadow=”no” dimension_box_shadow=”” box_shadow_blur=”0″ box_shadow_spread=”0″ box_shadow_color=”” box_shadow_style=”” padding_top=”” padding_right=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” dimension_margin=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=”” last=”false” first=”true” border_sizes_top=”0″ border_sizes_bottom=”0″ border_sizes_left=”0″ border_sizes_right=”0″ type=”1_2″ spacing_right=””][fusion_title hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” content_align=”center” size=”4″ font_size=”30px” line_height=”” letter_spacing=”1px” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”-10px” margin_top_mobile=”” margin_bottom_mobile=”-10px” text_color=”#ffffff” style_type=”single dashed” sep_color=”#022cff” margin_top_small=”” margin_bottom_small=”-10px”]

EXPLORING YOURSELF

[/fusion_title][fusion_checklist icon=”fa-question-circle fas” iconcolor=”#0216f2″ circle=”no” circlecolor=”#e0e0e0″ size=”18px” divider=”yes” divider_color=”#ffffff” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility”][fusion_li_item icon=””]

How often do you consider where your perception of meaning was shaped?

[/fusion_li_item][fusion_li_item icon=””]

How much time do you spend on media every day?

[/fusion_li_item][fusion_li_item icon=””]

Which of these seven myths resonates most strongly with you?

[/fusion_li_item][/fusion_checklist][/fusion_builder_column_inner][fusion_builder_column_inner type=”1_2″ layout=”1_2″ spacing=”” center_content=”no” hover_type=”none” link=”” target=”_self” min_height=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_position=”left top” background_repeat=”no-repeat” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” border_position=”all” border_radius=”” box_shadow=”no” dimension_box_shadow=”” box_shadow_blur=”0″ box_shadow_spread=”0″ box_shadow_color=”” box_shadow_style=”” padding_top=”” padding_right=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” dimension_margin=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=”” last=”true” first=”false” border_sizes_top=”0″ border_sizes_bottom=”0″ border_sizes_left=”0″ border_sizes_right=”0″ type=”1_2″][fusion_title hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” content_align=”center” size=”4″ font_size=”30px” line_height=”” letter_spacing=”1px” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”-10px” margin_top_mobile=”” margin_bottom_mobile=”-10px” text_color=”#ffffff” style_type=”single dashed” sep_color=”#0220ff” margin_top_small=”” margin_bottom_small=”-10px”]

EXPANDING YOUR WORLD

[/fusion_title][fusion_checklist icon=”fa-question-circle fas” iconcolor=”#0216f2″ circle=”no” circlecolor=”#ffffff” size=”18px” divider=”yes” divider_color=”#ffffff” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility”][fusion_li_item icon=””]

What differences are there between countries with an individualistic mindset and ones with a collective mindset?

[/fusion_li_item][fusion_li_item icon=””]

What does money do to our brains?

[/fusion_li_item][fusion_li_item icon=””]

How has our consumerist society evolved over time?

[/fusion_li_item][/fusion_checklist][/fusion_builder_column_inner][/fusion_builder_row_inner][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

2 thoughts on “7 Ways Society is Tricking Us About What is Meaningful”

  1. Pingback: Why Self-Awareness and Vulnerability are Important for Self-Growth - My Question Life

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top