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Uncertainty: The Key to Contentment

October 20, 2018 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

“The capacity to tolerate uncertainty is a prerequisite… for all patterns of belief and triumph.” Irvin D. Yalom

As I grow older one of life’s most meaningful learnings is that, “the older I get the more stuff I know, but the less I know FOR SURE.” I was certain about a lot more at thirty years old than I am now as a approach seventy. Perhaps that is one reason young people are so successful: they exude great confidence in what they believe to be true of life and how it is to be lived.

Certainty Fading Away

For me, certainty diminishes daily. I live more and more in a world of delightful paradox where opposite positions on various issues are something in which I find great pleasure. I not only understand both sides of a controversy I actually embrace both sides. For some this may sound a bit flakey, but to me it makes perfect sense.

In order to find the truest meaning of life we must first discover how to transcend the fear of uncertainty. Actually I find an odd delight in uncertainty. Uncertainly functions as grist for an inquisitive and curious mind and style of life.

Now here one also finds a most divine paradox. Irvin Yalom writes…

The search for meaning, much like the search for pleasure, must be conducted obliquely. Meaning ensues from meaningful activity: the more we deliberately pursue it, the less likely are we to find it…

I know this to be true. I have devoted years of my life in search of “the meaning of life.” I have read books, attended school, travelled, and consulted wise people in a hero’s quest to discover that illusive answer that would make my life most fulfilling. And, I have come to the conclusion, that while I learned a great deal from my quest, it only brought on more questions and MORE UNCERTAINTY.

The Freedom from Abandoning the Quest

The meaning of life is now clearer to me, but it snuck up on me after abandoning my exhausting quest. Maybe the quest for meaning IS the meaning. The journey IS the destination. And it is certainly not all that complex.

I am seeing the search for meaning in life as a complimentary search to resolve the issue of uncertainty. We are hard-wired to know how things work and how we can use this knowledge for our social and psychological benefit. Therefore, until one reaches a place in life where one does not require answers to everything then uncertainty is a most uncomfortable place to be.

The Paradoxical Dilemma

Yet we attempt to resolve the issue by creating order and meaning to resolve the uncertainly dilemma, where at the end of it all there really is no such thing. There is only living out the events of the day and basking in the privilege to do so. There is taking pleasure in errands and people and menial tasks. You can discover fulfilment in service and kindness.

But maybe mostly, you can unearth ultimate contentment in uncertainty—that state of mind that urges you to carry on to discovery and to another degree of satisfaction.

There is Beauty in Uncertainty

I’m Sure of It!

 Photo courtesy of sedmak at istockphoto

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