1. Live a Life of Moderation
One important secret of living a meaningful life is moderation. We must avoid extremes in our lifestyles, consumption patterns, relationships. Any thing excessive is always harmful to material and spiritual life, as well as to our aim to achieve a happy life. Vices are opposite of virtues. A virtue is living between two extremes. The Greek philosophers acknowledge that wisdom can be found in living a life of moderation. With regard to the use of money, for instance, being stingy and extravagant are two extreme attitudes. Wise spending is a moderate attitude and a virtue. Any thing too much is a vice and harmful to our aim of living a meaningful life.
If we are attached to material things and vices, we cannot progress in life to fulfill our ultimate goals. Some rich people, for instance, although not required by their professions, are preoccupied with owning the latest fashionable clothes. Much of their time are perhaps spent in shopping and looking for praise for what they wear. Others can be preoccupied with food. For Christians, too much desire for food or gluttony is a vice and a serious sin. Some powerful Romans during the great Roman empire were said to be gluttons. They enjoy delicious food as if eating is the end of life. Sex addiction, pornography, and other forms of inordinate attachments are also vices. The secret towards freedom and happiness in life is moderation of everything we do and consume.
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2. Develop a Strong Spirituality
Another secret is developing a strong spirituality in our life. Spirituality can make us strong and resilient against various forms of social bondage.
Once we are born in the material world and become members of society, we are thrown into a sea of social norms. We actually lose our absolute freedom in society. Social norms include laws, rules, regulations, customs, traditions, and other forms of behavioral regimes. When effectively enforced by authorities, norms can be coercive to people. Each norm carries with it sanction or punishment. This sanction can be informal or psychological such as ostracism, rumors and gossip, public shaming, etc. or formal such as imprisonment, suspension, banishment, or paying of fines. Norms limit our freedom and action in society. They also structure our mental life and thinking. If we are caught by authorities for seriously violating these norms we either end up in prison or leave a extreme poverty or homelessness.
The early Greek philosophers believe that the first step to liberate one’s self from social bondage is to reflect and ask ultimate questions about life.The great Aristotle once said that an unexamined life is not worth living.
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Life is more than what we eat. We need to go beyond this material world and start to search for ultimate answers of why we exist in this life and where we are heading to after death. Being punished by society and face loneliness is not the end of everything.
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There is still an alternative to remain free despite social bondage–a life of spirituality. Believing in something supernatural can provide people with a sense of meaning and purpose which can “empower” and provide them with a sense of control in the face of potentially stressful events (Hood 1974; Matton & Rappaport 1983). Spirituality can give us resilience and courage to face difficult situations in life.
One great way to transcend the limitations of our material limitations is to search for an appropriate spirituality that fits with our ultimate goals in life. Searching for ultimate values and meaning of life is the key to a purpose-driven life that transcends the material world. This is not escapism but an acknowledgement that there is more what the material world can offer.
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