Its All Meaningless! Here is How to Create Meaning!

“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”
― Viktor E. Frankl

Nothing means anything unless we decide it does. Think about it, only when we decide something has meaning does it. If we decide it does not have meaning, it becomes irrelevant. Research discusses who we look for self justification. In technical terms this can be referred to as confirmation bias. That is we seek information or pay mind to information that supports our beliefs and ignore information that suggests otherwise. It is what we do to make life livable because life is difficult. Without meaning and predictability in life, it makes life more difficult.


Meaning is a human construct and meaning is a figment of our imagination, according to David McRaney in “You are Not So Smart”.  He explains that we use the Texas Sharp Shooter Fallacy, or artificially construct patterns in randomness. The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy is if we had a barn wall with random shots all over the wall, we would draw a bullseye around a cluster of shot holes to create the impression we were had good marksmanship. This is an example of paying attention only to what could be meaningful, the signal, and ignoring the noise, all the other shots. He details how we do this regularly in mind and through life to find meaning.

However, as he says, this helps make life more livable. If we also connect it to our values and paneugenesis, the practice of generating comprehensive improvements by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits, it is about more than us. We also must remember, what we do affects everything else. We also know as shown previously, what we think does change our physiological reaction as demonstrated by Dr. Alia Crum’s work here.

Of course the big question is what does it all mean or does it mean anything? In a short 5 minute presentation, Don Ardell explains why life is meaningless. While he argues there is no meaning, it seems he also suggests we create meaning.

This is well supported by science. If this is so, shouldn’t we then endeavor to create all good by generating comprehensive improvements through interactions from which everyone and everything benefits? Doing so will help us create data that supports our belief we have a purposeful meaning and that makes us feel good about ourselves and others feel better too – Yea.

Feeling good about yourself leads to positive ripples. As Dan Ariely and others have shown, the emotional state we have going into an interaction determines the result of that interaction. Going into an interaction with positive emotions creates more beneficial interactions than if we go in with negative emotions. Feeling good about ourselves, by contributing to the common good will create positive feedback loop that keeps paying it forward. Even if life is meaningless, at least we made an effort to create meaningful experiences in our life.

My recommendation, if you want your life to mean something good, work to generate comprehensive improvements by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits. A way to do this is to use the 7C’s – Accept the Challenge, Have Courage, Make a Commitment, Develop Competence, Create Connections, Provide Contributions and Build on those Consequences for continuous and never ending improvement. If you are interested, more detailed 7 C discussion is available here.

Enjoy Don Ardell’s 5 minute talk: Life is Meaningless

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

Enlightening Evolutionary Perspective on Health


I learned so much from Daniel Lieberman’s book, The Story of the Human Body : Evolution, Health, and Disease, I expect to make several posts. It is not that I learned so much new as I now understand better the many health recommendations being promoted. I encourage all, especially health professionals, to read this book!

In this book he provides an amazingly powerful evolutionary perspective on health. While he admits studying the Industrial Revolution can’t help us fix cars, he shows us how studying evolution can help us understand how we can live better today. One of the most enlightening things and reasons why this book make sense is:

Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.

Life is a process by which we use energy to make more living things. Evolution simply sorted who survived through variation, genetic heritability and differential reproductive success. Those with characteristics that led to successful reproduction survived, natural selection, and it is was this process that explains why we evolved to what we are today.   We evolved to reproduce, not to be happy. If those factors 2 coincide, then it stuck.

We adapted in ways that made reproduction more likely. Natural selection however, follows environmental changes, it did not lead. Environments change and are always changing. These changes make constant optimization impossible because what achieves optimization changes as the environment changes. When anything changes, everything else changes because it adapts.

Although he suggests there is no optimal way to live, he also suggests our bodies were optimally adapted for a hunter-gatherer way of life. He explains cultural evolution is now a dominant force of evolution that is having effect us but it is not changing our bodies. Our cultural evolution has altered how we eat, work, sleep, regulate body temperature, interact and even defecate.

We are getting chronic diseases by doing what we were evolved to do. Higher morbidity is replacing lower mortality. When asked if evolution is still happening he said of course but he doubts we will evolve to eat donuts and be inactive. He doubts this will happen because most of the effects from those lifestyles do not effect reproduction, they often occur after we had children or otherwise do not effect reproduction.

He explains that in todays world, cultural evolution out paces our biologic evolution. Currently we value today’s pleasures over tomorrow’s benefits. This is especially true because of the time lapse and inability to connect causes to problems. He suggests, if we wish to halt this vicious circle then we need to figure out how to respectfully and sensibly nudge, push, and sometimes oblige ourselves to eat foods that promote health and to be more physically active. Overall his suggestion is that e need to create a health promoting environment and that is also what we have evolved to do.

Lieberman’s TED Talk below provides an interesting presentation of a few issues covered in the book. Enjoy!

If you are interested in learning more, below I linked the Lehrer and Colbert interviews,

This link takes you to Lieberman Interview on Brian Lehrer Show  BL

This link takes you to his interview with Stephen Colbert On the Colbert Report  Unknown 

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

Great Point Made with Shoelaces and Airplane (9-11) Analogies

My efforts are always in how we can cause all good using selfish selfless synergy to generate comprehensive improvements by creating interactions so everyone an everything benefits. To me we create all good by practicing paneugenesis.

A example of something we can do is described on Trevor Noah’s Daily Show (shown below). In the show he uses a shoe laces and airplane analogy to simplify his thoughts. I thoughts this was a powerful and simplifying presentation. What do you think? Share you thoughts, thank you.

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

🌏🚀🚀We Can Have Both! Part II 🚀🚀🌏

The recent article, Using Well-Being for Public Policy: Theory, Measurement, and Recommendations by Adler and Seligman in the International Journal of Wellbeing (doi:10.5502/ifjw.v6i1.1), the authors suggest we should reject GDP to get wellbeing. The article discusses measures such as the Bhutan General Happiness index, in use since 1992.

If you are interested in learning more, watch Ushering Tobago’s TED Talk about Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness (GNH) Index. As discussed in the Adler/Seligman article, being ecological has a strong impact on wellbeing. The TED talk in this post discusses how Bhutan has taken an ecological stand by being not just a carbon neutral but a carbon negative country and then explains how this approach was the natural outcome using the GNH to guide national policy. In support of the Adler/Seligman finding, Tobago explains how the carbon policy followed contributes to happiness.

This is an example that demonstrates how everything is connected and also suggests we do not have to give up GDP if we change how we make things. In Cradle to Cradle and Upcycle, McDonough and Braungart explain how to make things so they are not scrap but better after use. I describe the concepts of McDonough & Braggart and more in the posts Concept: Create More Good, Not Just Less Bad and Capacity Enables Creativity and Crisis Mitigation,

The presentation below also suggests we all want to be a part of something good that is greater than ourselves. Bhutan’s efforts suggest by taking action to increase happiness, you can also help others and this connects us to something more than ourselves. It is possible to have both: healthy food and good taste, happiness and carbon negative, fulfillment and ecologically sound, profitable and environmentally sound, the list goes on. This post builds on on the ideas I described in “We Can Have Both“. Make it a great week.

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

China Promotes Less Meat, Less Heat, More Life

Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron filming PSAs calling for “less meat, less heat”. Chinese health officials are urging the nation’s 1.3 billion citizens to cut their meat consumption in half to prevent heart disease, diabetes and other diet-related illnesses. Director James Cameron and movie star/former governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger think that’s a great idea, and are starring in a series of PSAs to spread the word in the U.S.

Enjoy these video’s including China’s PSA. I especially like the message James Cameron shares about how we are all connected in that our success and improvement is dependent all everyone and everything.


Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!


Climate Change, Optimism – Need More!

On this July 4th, Independence Day, lets celebrate by becoming part of the solution! Our general approach to issues has been to show how bad things have gotten and this is then supposed to jolt us into action. As Phil McGraw asks, how is that working for you? As we can see, not well. We are fatter, sicker and our environment seems to be getting worse by the day.

Generally the approach taken uses statistics to document how we are wrong – such as this recent editorial in my local paper: Daily Reflector Editorial: Denying Climate Change No Longer has Legitimacy

Al Gore, while certainly helpful in getting us to address the issue always attempts to scare us into action. In his recent February 2016 TED Presentation, after scaring us, he explains that we are doing better. He provided a lot of data about the progress we are making in creating solutions.

Access Al Gore Interview in WIRED here.

While it was better, because we are predisposed to the presence of things – good or bad – (Feature Positive Effect) more than the absence of bad things, the real benefit will be when we become part of the solution by creating more good. We must clarify the benefits, when we see how it is better, many will take action. As we create more good, the bad will be moved out if it is done using a systems approach.

If you are interested, in 2006, after seeing “An Inconvenient Truth”, I sent Al Gore these letters in November and then December 2006. No I never got a response.


December 30, 2006

Dear Honorable Al Gore,

In this second letter, I would like to enhance the ideas and provide you with a platform for environmental action. These ideas have been generated from the reading of Thomas Friedman’s excellent book, The World is Flat. The letter I sent earlier is also enclosed

In the earlier letter I emphasized the need to move toward gains from environmental action rather than away from what would be non-losses or prevention. As I said, promoting gains WOULD PREVENT PROBLEMS BUT ALSO PROMOTE REINFORCING GAINS FOR SOCIETY and would likely generate more environmentally corrective action.

In my previous letter I specifically talked about moving toward the development of clean technology. This new technology could lead the world and be desired by all the developing nations as we reach the point of no return concerning the environment. This push would also focus on the development of new science and technology, a needed and important focus.

This point was emphasized in Friedman’s book as he described the hundreds of millions in India and China that desire our lifestyle, cars, refrigerators, appliances etc. He also explained how we are losing our lead in the world of science. As a platform, like Kennedy challenged America to get to the moon, you could challenge us to develop clean technology. These developments of course would lead to tremendous financial returns for all, everybody would desire these products, and they could be produced with a global supply chain. Also, use of these products would help all enjoy a better world to live in because of a cleaner environment. This also would help America lead by example rather than force. A RESULT WOULD BE THE PREVENTION OF ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION THROUGH THE PROMOTION OF FINANCIAL AND EDUCATION GAINS!

Other platform issues could include creating greater access to the world-wide web, state and city sponsored wireless access, and a real education reform program to emphasize science. Better education is needed for a better tomorrow and for us to compete in the new global marketplace.

On another note, I have read that you work with Apple and were on the recent committee that cleared the executives in the stock options debacle. Can you encourage Apple to improve their environmental practices? GreenPeace has listed them as environmental problem and has created the site, to facilitate change.

November 27, 2006

Dear Honorable Al Gore,

I am a professor at East Carolina University in North Carolina. I have always been interested in environmental issues, probably because I read your book Earth In The Balance early in my career. I encourage my students to be environmentally responsible and I attempt to be a role model. I drive a Prius and support the environment by reducing, reusing, recycling, and composting whenever possible.

I recently saw your movie, An Inconvenient Truth and am pleased that this movie has helped change some attitudes and may result in some supportive actions and legislation. Although I greatly support your efforts, I would like to offer some ideas on the enclosed pages that I believe will help enhance your efforts to create a healthier environment!

I work with health promotion and new research promotes a theoretical philosophy for moving people toward benefits as the most effective way to prevent problems. Salutogenensis, the study of the origins of health, guides these efforts and this same successful philosophy can be adopted to guide environmental action. I encourage you to read the enclosed 2-page summary of how and why these techniques may be helpful.

Although it takes effort to shift a paradigm, history demonstrates it can be done. Currently I am working on creating a salutogenic approach for the health field (CV enclosed). I believe I can help you build a successful plan to motivate environmental action. I can be reached by any method listed above or below. I am most easily contacted by email. Thank you for your time, I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Be Wellr,

Craig M. Becker, Ph.D.

Thank you for doing your part from which we all benefit. Please tell me how you are becoming part of the solution!

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

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