Excellence Reporter: Drake, what is the meaning of life?
Drake Eastburn: I watch my dog licking herself. Over the past couple of years, she has had surgery after surgery after surgery, yet she doesn’t seem to question the fact that she’s been sedated, operated upon, and stitched back together—again. She doesn’t seem to care that she has more difficulty getting around than she did just days ago. She isn’t angry that she’s been dragged off to the animal hospital once more, that she now must endure the all-too-familiar struggles of recovery. She is not blaming the humans who have inflicted discomfort upon her. It certainly doesn’t seem that she is pondering how much longer she has to live, or what her quality of life will be, or even how unfair it is that she should have so many ailments when other dogs have none. In fact, she seems quite content to just lick herself and take a nap.
Humans seem to lack this ability to just be satisfied with life and carry on, regardless of what may be put on our path, and even if what is on our path is joyful. The many species on this earth have evolved genetically in such a way that helps them continue to exist. Part of human evolution was the development of a larger, more complex brain. Having a more complex brain helped us to become better hunter-gatherers, which, in turn, helped us to meet the organ’s ever-increasing nutrient demands. However, along with this more developed brain came a curse. The curse is that the human brain now contains the ability to consider things that may not be directly related to survival.
We have the ability to look up into the night sky, to observe the abundant specks of light glimmering through the dark and wonder. What are those dots of illumination? How do I fit into all of this? Why am I here? What is my purpose? What happens when I die? This thinking, or over-thinking, organ doesn’t have the answers, but only the ability to consider the questions and ponder possibilities. All of this pondering creates dissonance and when we experience dissonance we strive for consonance. As a result, we will accept answers that give us consonance even if those consonant-producing answers are unrealistic.
We experience our world as humans. That is what we are, and that is what we know. So, our tendency is to anthropomorphize our human interpretations and project them onto our observations. In humanizing things that are non-human, we create anthropomorphized versions of reality.
What is the meaning of life? This is one of those questions that our neurotic minds have made a mission to explore. The notion that we are all just part of some cosmic kismet lacks the satisfaction of more mythical explanations. Certainly, we have been put here for a purpose; in quest of a comforting night’s sleep, we must explore it. While we ruminate over endless possibilities of what tomorrow will bring, we are missing out on the fact that we could be finding joy, or at least peace of mind, in this very moment. While my dog is experiencing mindfulness just contentedly licking her fur, we humans are so busy considering possibilities that may not even be worthy of consideration, that we are missing out. Are we so distracted considering the meaning of life that some of that life is passing us by?
There are times when I become concerned about things, like the political situations that are occurring. However, for the most part, I find joy in things. I love to come across a piece of rusty iron, an old shack fallen to the ground, some curious plant growing from the earth, a weathered piece of milled lumber. All without considering the meaning of life. Every morning I get up and clean the kitchen. In that kitchen is a sink with a faucet. I can move a handle and water flows out. Not only that, but I can also control the flow of that water, and even more amazing is that I can determine the temperature of that water. It truly amazes me that I can do this. Yes, most everyone has a sink and a faucet, and therefore this shouldn’t seem amazing, but I can’t take it for granted. I have lived places where I had to walk to a creek to get a bucket of water and I was happy to do that. Now, I can just turn a faucet handle and, as if by magic, water appears.
Every morning I clean the stove. I don’t get annoyed if there is spaghetti sauce on the stove and I have to clean it. What I’m really experiencing is, “I have a stove that I get to clean.” It’s a gas stove and I’m pleased with that. Sure, I might like a nicer, fancier gas stove, but ultimately, I’m just thrilled that I have a gas stove. I could get lost in wanting a nicer sink, countertops, top-of-the-line stove, but I don’t. I find a lot of joy in just having what I have.
People’s wondering about the meaning of life is likely to go unsatisfied, especially if we are waiting for some cosmic explanation that somehow fits into our paradigms. A cosmic accident will not satisfy any anthropomorphized variations.
Humans can so easily miss out by looking for the meaning of life when they should be looking for the meaning in life. The meaning in life is about what we put into life. It’s about passion. If you have no passion, you won’t experience meaning in life, rather, you’ll just be a placeholder.
What is the meaning in your life? What are you passionate about? Can you experience the peace of mind, the joy, that my dog experiences just licking her fur? Are you searching for the meaning of life, or are you embracing the meaning in life?
~Drake Eastburn is a Board-Certified Hypnotherapist, co-founder of Eastburn Hypnotherapy Center and the Eastburn Institute of Hypnosis, as well the former Director of Education for the School of Integrated Hypnotherapy. He is a sought-after author and the official hypnotist to the U.S. Olympic Cycling Team due to his highly-regarded work in sport hypnotherapy. With more than 40 years experience in hypnotism, he is on a mission to educate people on the reality and impact of hypnosis. Together with his wife Lynsi, Drake also teaches foundational classes in hypnosis through their institute in Colorado and globally. The training includes advanced methods such as Regression Therapy, Resolving Repetitive Body Focused Behaviors (trichotillomania, nail biting, skin picking, etc.), and state-of-the-art smoking cessation. His passion for sports led him to professionally work with athletes from almost every sport, including football, golf and cheer. over the past three decades. As one of the most prolific authors in contemporary hypnotism, Drake has written seven books on the subject, several of which are used in hypnotherapy training globally. Drake’s forthcoming eighth book, The Hypnotist’s Bible—A Reference and A Journey, is set to be released on December 12, 2022.
Photo Credit: Tim Gillies