Book: Aging Beyond Belief by Don ArdellIf you plan to age, prepare yourself — it's later than you think. The challenge of aging well should be taken seriously, but not grimly! Whatever your age, it's never too soon, or too late, to learn and apply the fine art of aging well, really well. Discover what aspects of aging can't be changed and improve the rest that can. Mold your own realities with REAL wellness, Ardell-style.
The 69 tips — one for each year of the author's life — are thought-provoking, challenging, eye-opening, manageable and fun to read. And all provide practical guidance for intelligently designing your own life-style evolution.
Wellness in the Headlines
(Don's Report to the World)
Introduction: What If?
What if it’s true, as has been mentioned in these essays on a regular basis, that life is inherently meaningless, that most people cantdoit (i.e., sustain a REAL wellness-based life) and that you probably have to deal with people who believe things that are frankly rather bizarre This may seem a bit harsh, but what else can you think when surrounded and influenced by societies based on nonsensical world-views, customs and rules?
Come along for a moment with a science-fiction mental experiment. This brief visualization might help you appreciate a point I wish to make.
Imagine a scene somewhat like that which befell Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” but with a little variation. While you may start from Kansas or wherever you like, your destination in this exercise is not Oz or anything like it. You are going to mentally travel into the life of a young woman in a Middle Eastern theocracy governed by warlords, royalty or religious authorities. You are going into a Bronze Age culture, even though it’s the 21st century. You soon realize that the beliefs that govern how you live in every imaginable way are extraordinarily constricting and, from your point of view, totally stupid if not bloody insane. (Sorry, there’s no time in this exercise for political correctness. True, this mental exercise would have been dangerous to lead in Hitler’s Germany as it actually today in the kind of society i’m guiding you to imagine.) You would be in a terrible fix—you would possess the knowledge and aspirations you have now, but in this new situation no opportunities or resources to change your life, even though you desperately wanted to.
Would you agree that you would not have much happiness or many WOs in such a time and place? Is it not clear that cantdoit would be the reality of your life?
WOs Are Scarce Even Where Readily Available
That’s basically how it is where you live now, in your one and only randomly generated, improbable life. The difference in your real world and the fantasy vision exercise you just did is that the constricting realities around you are harder to recognize, and thus they are powerfully effective in keeping you stuck. When the conversations are limited, you are likely to go along with the mind-bending nonsense of dogmas and customs more suited to antiquity than modern times. As a consequence, varied forms of learned stupidity clog mental arteries and prevent exuberant, frequent WOs.
Thus, a big question to think about: Is happiness possible in a meaningless world?
If our presence on earth is random and our fate is equally so, can we find and/or create paths to exuberance, joy and optimism? Or, are we inexorably destined for a herd-like life, filled with senseless drama, stress, depression, misery and doom?
Or, is there a bright side in all this, that is, is there a path leading to an attractive existence, better outcomes, good health and an exuberant if brief existence? Ask yourself: can I still have fun before I die?
The Way to WOs
It’s true that there is no way out while still alive (or after because, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein, “there’s no there thereafter”) but it’s also true that there are attractive ways to be in the world and things to do while you’re still here.
A recognition and acceptance of the great walls of reality that surround us—the ramparts of meaningless, CANTDOIT and no gods, are keys to your liberation—your freedom to seek happiness in this life on your own terms, independent of creeds, dogmas, ghosts, superstitions in this world and a vengeful “higher power” in the next. Meaninglessness is bloody good news! Hooray, thank no gods but cheer nonetheless—we’re on our own. We’re free.
Tips for More WOs
Consider a few tips for moving along the paths to WOs and liberation in a meaningless world:
While there are many other tips to come for finding and traveling on the paths to WO in a meaningless, cantdoit world, I’ll add just one more for now: Look for and immerse yourself in conversations with other WO-minded folks who are enjoying their own meaningless lives to the hilt, whatever benevolent forms their hilts might take.
To paraphrase Voltaire, truth claims by those who believe in a single universal meaning of life are never so well understood as by those who have lost the power of reasoning. Sects and errors are synonymous.
Note: The essay is based on a chapter in Don’s forthcoming book, co-authored with Dr. Grant Donovan of Australia, entitled Wellness Orgasms: The Fun Way to Live Well and Die Healthy.
(Ed. Note: Views expressed in this and other columns are those of the author and not necessarily those of the SeekWellness Editorial Board.)
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