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nihilism.

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nihilism.

Sometimes I feel like I have a love hate relationship with feelings. I love feeling things but also hate it. I’ve been thinking about nihilism recently. For those of you who don’t know… nihilism is means “nothing” in Latin, which is a dead language… ironically the words meaning has lost all meaning and is now worth nothing.

Nihilism is closely tied to a man called Friedrich Nietzsche. He’s got an awesome tash but given nothing has any meaning it wasn’t really worth me mentioning it.

Nietzsche said that in life and the universe there is no meaning, value, truth, morals, nothing. And any meaning anything has is given to it by man. Given that everyone’s meaning is based on their perception of life there can never be a definitive truth. And when something has no meaning, it has to be pointless. So nothing really matters. And the reason we give meaning to things is to distract ourselves from the inevitability of death.

In general people fear death because we’ve got a level of awareness that means we almost know too much. No here’s where it gets interesting… if we assume nihilism is correct and we know that everything is worthless and without meaning and we also know that our feelings our a product of our own minds and can’t be attributed to anyone else we then start to realise that when we feel something we’re giving our lives meaning. Which is clearly powerful and great and can be used for good or evil.

When you’re a child you don’t really need a meaning in your life, so you’re free to use your imagination on fun things like dreaming up castles and dragons and pretending the floor is made of lava. As an adult, you start to get told by everyone around you that you need to find a purpose or meaning in your life in order to give yourself something to strive for. This could be a career, or a hobby or a creative outlet or a relationship depending on your upbringing or people around you and their limited perception of the world they’ve given themselves.

It’s amazing how much time and how often people get hurt by their own thoughts. One of my favourite quotes at the moment is “we suffer more in imagination than in realty”. I had an amazing day yesterday. Then today I had less stuff booked in and so felt like I wasn’t doing much with my life… as if anything would matter anyway.

My mind can dream up horrible things that will hurt me because it’s my mind. And it knows exactly what to say / do which will burn me the most. However it can also focus me on the good stuff in life. And given that the only meaning we get is subjective from our own heads… why shouldn’t we focus on the lovely stuff? Why? Well… our monkey brains are still not that evolved and we are still getting over millions of years of being scared of what’s behind us and threats from other animals. It’s why when you’re watching the news a clip of someone being set on fire will grab your attention even though it’s in the small box in the corner of the screen and there’s a man talking at you that is much bigger next to it. When we assume things we go negative. Why? It’s a defence process. And it’s hard to get out of.

But when you realise that all meaning and logic and reasoning and feelings come from within you can take more charge over your negativity and embrace the nothingness of the universe with an outlook that says “yes, I am here by accident. But really that’s beautiful and lovely and something to be celebrated with all the other accidents around me and all the wonderful things they’ve created which will ultimately be worthless some day.”

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Simon Caine is a comedian, author, podcaster, writer and social media manager. He's the host of the Ask The Industry Podcast (iTunes link) , writer of jokes for Twitter and teller of gags on the London comedy scene. He's also the person writing this and it is taking all his willpower not to make a "Simon Says" joke.
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