Nihilism is the rejection of all religious and moral principles, in the belief that life is meaningless. The two main types are existential nihilism, which believes that life has no objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value, and moral nihilism which believes that morality does not exist.
It is often associated with extreme pessimism and radical skepticism. Nihilism is also typically associated with 19th century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who argued that the negative effects of nihilism would eventually destroy all moral, religious, and metaphysical convictions and precipitate the greatest crisis in human history.
The world nihilism “comes from the Latin nihil, which translates as ‘nothing, and it also appears in the word “annihilate,” meaning to bring to nothing, to destroy completely.
Finally, nihilism is sometimes accompanied by feelings of depression, cynicism, pessimism, or anxiety, but it may be present without any of them.
Tip 1: Play
A baby is born without an understanding of the meaning, or lack thereof, in the world, and yet it is born equipped with the desire to play in various games. The baby is quite happy being fully engaged in a game without feeling the need to question whether there is inherent meaning, or not, in the task. From this we can derive one of the problems that can occur in people who suffer from nihilism—they have stopped playing.
Whether you seek more games to play and engage in, or you simply adopt a more playful attitude towards life, it cannot hurt to try and it may help to distract you from feelings of nihilism for a while.
“The most responsible way to live is that you are playful with life.” ~ Sadhguru
Perhaps the nihilist is either taking life far too seriously, or is consumed by a search for the ultimate truth or belief system to explain the complexity of life in its entirety, whereas they may be better off taking a break from the bigger questions of life, and simply engaging in more playful activities. This is not to say that the bigger and deeper questions of life are unimportant, rather, a healthy and fulfilling life is better achieved through balance, and in this case balancing the serious and heavy subjects with a more lighthearted and playful approach to life.
Tip 2: Altruism
Altruism is the principle and moral practice of concern for happiness of other human beings and/or animals. It is a traditional virtue in many cultures and a core aspect of various religious traditions and secular world views, though the concept of “others” toward whom concern should be directed can vary among cultures and religions. In an extreme case, altruism may become a synonym of selflessness, which is the opposite of selfishness.
One of the better ways to find or rediscover meaning in your life is to actively make a difference by contributing to the world in some way through altruism. The following are a list of ideas to try:
– Help to feed or clothe the homeless.
– Join an animal rights group.
– Volunteer in a charity shop of soup kitchen.
– Choose a vocation which is concerned with helping people.
– Donate money to a worthwhile cause.
– Random acts of kindness: Read this article for ideas on random acts of kindness: https://daringtolivefully.com/random-acts-of-kindness-ideas
Tip 3: Faith and Spirituality
A final tip to help with nihilism would be to explore the different faiths, religions, and spiritual practices around the world, which help to bring a sense of meaning and purpose to billions of peoples lives all around the world. Perhaps you are an atheist and may benefit from exploring spirituality, or perhaps you are already religious but your particular faith is not the right one for you. There is no harm in seeking additional truths and answers from other faiths and spiritual pathways. Some people may even be better suited to combining the best ideas and practices of various religions which best suit their personality, needs and circumstances.
– Religions to explore: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Folk Religions, Judaism, Jainism, Shintoism, Taoism, Confucianism.
– Spiritual Pathways: In Sacred Pathways: Discover Your Soul’s Path to God, Gary L Thomas describes nine different spiritual styles or “sacred pathways.” A sacred pathway describes the way we relate to God, how we draw near to him. You can read more about spiritual pathways here: https://visitgracechurch.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/SpiritualStyle.pdf
- Naturalists: Loving God Outdoors
- Sensates: Loving God with the Senses
- Traditionalists: Loving God through Ritual and Symbol
- Ascetics: Loving God in Solitude and Simplicity
- Activists: Loving God through Confrontation
- Caregivers: Loving God by Loving Others
- Enthusiasts: Loving God with Mystery and Celebration
- Contemplatives: Loving God through Adoration
- Intellectuals: Loving God with the mind
“When nihilists say that life is meaningless that isn’t exactly what they mean; they mean that life is suffering but there isn’t anything transcendent about it that you could set against that suffering.” ~ Jordan Peterson
“It might be that the sense of meaning that life can provide to you is proportionate to the amount of responsibility you decide to take on.” ~ Jordan Peterson
“He who has a why can bear almost any how.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
“A nihilist is a man who judges of the world as it is that it ought not to be, and of the world as it ought to be that it does not exist.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” ~ Mark Twain
“I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love.” ~ Viktor Frankl
“If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death, human life cannot be complete.” ~ Viktor Frankl
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” ~ Viktor Frankl