Ways and Means

No, ends do not justify the means. As everything ultimately ends equally, nothing actually matters but the means. Outcomes of games are meaningless for instance, winning and losing both result in game over, the point of a game is to occupy a participant’s time in an enjoyable way. Every end simply merges into a new beginning — activity itself never ceases. Enjoyment received from participation originates in the attitude of the participant not from the external event.

If external events created enjoyment by their very nature, then their ability to produce pleasure would be more universal and consistent, yet even within the same individual, enjoyment received via a particular event varies — mood and attitude are the underlying factors. Simply finding a trophy does not make us feel like a winner. The question can never be: what external circumstance must I attain to make myself happy? The question is: what attitude must I foster to facilitate my happiness?

And by observing happiness-in-progress we can note a few key concepts of this joy-inducing attitude. For instance, whole-hearted investment in the activity, belief in the wholesomeness of the activity, hopefulness, and seeing value in other participants. In short, it’s unabashed positivity. Whereas if we observe misery-in-progress we can witness a lack of emotional investment, belief in the noxiousness of the activity, pessimism, and the denigration of others. In short, it’s utter negativity.

So in life, we must resist temptation to focus on the ends, as they’re just arbitrary chapter headings, the narrative continues. What we must focus on instead, is our level of investment in the story, our belief in its goodness, our faith in a compelling storyline, and finding the worth in each character. It is by the means we live our lives that we provide meaning to our lives. In other words, we find fulfillment not from the actual achievement of goals, but from the way in which we pursue them.

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