in: Advice, Character, Sunday Firesides

Sunday Firesides: We Need as Much Meaning Extension as Life Extension

Recently, there’s been increased interest in extending the human lifespan — not only making it to the century mark (and beyond), but spending those last decades healthy and strong. 

In one way, this interest in living longer isn’t very surprising; no one welcomes death.

Yet in another, it is a strange thing, given that so many people struggle to make much of the years they currently have at their disposal. 

As the writer Susan Ertz put it:

“Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.”

Growing up, no one tells you that one of the greatest challenges of existence is figuring out how to sustain a sense of meaning over multiple decades of life.

Given that the resources that can be drawn upon to create meaning — family, friends, career, hobbies, spirituality — can never be added to, how do we mine new satisfactions from them year after year?

What do we do when a marriage feels stale, planning your dozenth trip doesn’t offer the same thrill, and listening to yet another sermon on the same topic puts your soul to sleep?

What good is it to add a tenth decade to life, if one’s fourth already feels worn out?

It’s great that there are so many scientists, researchers, and gurus who can tell us how to optimize our sleep, exercise, and diet. But we need just as many prophets, poets, and philosophers who can tell us how to vitalize a sense of purpose.

It’s great to spend time figuring out how to add years to your life, but you need to put an equal amount of energy into figuring out how to add life to your years.

It’s great to keep your heart beating strong, but you must also find what your heart will beat for.

Related Posts