10 Paradoxes That Help You to Live a Meaningful Life

10 Paradoxes That Help You to Live a Meaningful Life

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A paradox is any statement or saying that, on the surface, sounds ridiculous and contradictory, but in reality, it has a surprising basis in wisdom and reality. Many paradoxes around you are fascinating to examine. On top of that, many of them can teach you valuable lessons. But how can something as simple as a strange-sounding phrase give you that much value? Here are ten paradoxes of life that you can use to live a meaningful life.

1.    The more you learn, the less you realize you know.

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Have you ever noticed that many people are ridiculously confident when they begin something, only to get shocked when they realize that the subject at hand is much more complex than they initially believed?

This is commonly referred to as the Dunning-Krueger effect. The less skilled someone is, the more likely they are to overestimate their competence. It takes a significant amount of time before someone reaches a level of expertise where they have more positive thinking about their abilities again.

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Here’s what you can learn from this for a more meaningful life:

  • The world is complex, and nothing is as simple as it appears at face value.
  • The world is constantly changing, with new bits of information that means constant learning is necessary for continued expertise.
  • There are always blind spots in knowledge, no matter how little or how much you know.
  • It is wisest to assume you know nothing when beginning forays into a subject.

2.    The more you try to control something, the less control you have over it.

Many people derive a sense of security from being able to “control” things, whether that is people, their level of preparation, or their environment. There’s a safe feeling that can come with the ability to make sure everything will plan for obvious reasons.

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Of course, all that control doesn’t always mean that things will go to plan, and most things dislike being controlled, which makes them even harder to manage. The more you attempt to dictate things, the less likely things will go your way, and the lower your positive thinking will drop.

Here’s what you can learn from this:

  • Planning is good, but it is impossible to plan for every possible situation.
  • Learning to be okay with not knowing what will happen next makes life much more interesting and much less stressful.
  • Adaptability is more crucial than conscientiousness.
  • The world is mysterious and cannot be controlled, and there can be beauty in that chaos.

3.    The more available something is, the less badly people want it.

A scarcity bias is a strange psychological effect whereby most rare things are viewed in the most positive light. The less available something is, the more likely people are to rave about the desire to get their hands on it. In reality, this has little to no bearing on that item’s actual value.

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Worse still, once someone finally gets their hands on the rare thing, they often get disillusioned with it. They realize that the inflated value was an oversell and could have done well with something much more easily available.

Here’s what you can learn from this:

  • Arbitrary value does not dictate something actual value to you or others.
  • What everyone wants doesn’t have to be what you want, and you shouldn’t blindly follow a mob.
  • There can be beauty in things that are not valued, and availability can make things more enjoyable.
  • Scarcity-based value often involves setting yourself up for disappointment.

4.    The only thing that never changes is the inevitability of change.

There’s no way to avoid change. It is simply inevitable, and everything changes, no matter how much it seems like it won’t. Whether it changes in a few seconds, in several weeks, or fifty years, the fact remains that change will occur. Sometimes it’s gradual. Sometimes it’s sudden. All of the time, it cannot be stopped.

Here’s how this insight can help you lead a more meaningful life:

  • A resistance to change is futile; it will come whether you like it or not, and therefore you should accept it.
  • Once again, adaptability is more crucial than conscientiousness.
  • Finding security in temporary things will lead to many feelings of insecurity over the course of your life.

5.    An abundance of choices makes choosing harder.

A wealth of choices seems like a lovely thing, but it can create an overwhelming situation where the paradox of choice comes into play. The more options are available, the more you want to weigh each one, and the more afraid you are of getting it wrong.

And, worse still, after all of that, you’re likely to regret your decision when a lot of other potential decisions were available. Your positive thinking can’t handle the fact that it “missed out” on other options, making a choice impossible.

Here’s what you can learn from this:

  • Less can truly be more in many situations.
  • Not every choice must be groundbreaking; some can be made for fun.
  • Instead of regretting choices, learning from their outcomes is best.
  • Being satisfied with what you can help you reduce regrets.
  • Comparing yourself and your situations to others and their situations is always going to end in dissatisfaction.

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6.    Seeking happiness can make you more unhappy.

Have you heard of the Paradox of Hedonism? It refers to the “coincidental” occurrence where happiness tends to find you when you aren’t actively seeking it. It’s the source of the famous quote by Henry David Thoreau: “Happiness is like a butterfly, the more you chase it, the more it will evade you, but if you notice the other things around you, it will gently come and sit on your shoulder.”

This is because pursuing happiness often involves setting lofty goals for an imagined emotional state with no real feeling, meaning, or purpose behind it. As a result, you don’t truly know what happiness looks like, nor are you capable of spotting it when it arrives. You then lose your positive thinking as you grow frustrated with your lack of happiness, which is completely counterproductive!

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Here’s what you can learn from this:

  • Instead of seeking happiness, seek personal growth and improvement for a more meaningful life.
  • Don’t become obsessed with the idea of finding happiness, as you can make your own by seeing the joy in the world around you.
  • Allow yourself to feel a mix of positive and negative emotions, and don’t beat yourself up for not being constantly happy.

7.    The more you cling to others, the more you push them away.

People in general dislike when others behave with neediness towards them. Clingy people can be suffocating. While it’s okay to be more affectionate than others, you also need to understand that the clingier you are, the fewer others will want to spend time with you.

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Here’s what you can learn from this:

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  • Maintain healthy boundaries in relationships with others, whether romantic or otherwise
  • Give others space when they need it and take time to request space of your own, even if you don’t always feel like you need it.
  • Respect the desires, time, and effort of others
  • Relationships should not persist out of obligation
  • You have no right to control others or demand their time
  • Let people choose to spend time with you because they like you

8.    Failure is necessary for success.

There is such a huge negative connotation to failure. People often act like it’s a surefire sign of something horrible or proof that something is doomed. But you can’t be good at something if you’re not bad at it first. It’s necessary to fail to learn from mistakes and find ways to succeed.

It’s tough to develop positive thinking surrounding failure, but research backs the concept that failure is instrumental to growth and success. It is only really a failure if you decide to learn absolutely nothing from it! Of course, you can’t always succeed because that requires perfection, which is entirely unachievable.

Here’s what you can learn from this:

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  • Find lessons to learn in all your mistakes and failures.
  • Please don’t beat yourself up over failures; celebrate how they help you to grow.
  • Pat yourself on the back for small successes.
  • Understand that progress isn’t linear, and you will continue to fail throughout life, even after you succeed.
  • There is nothing wrong with making mistakes unless you refuse accountability for them.

9.    The more you try to do it at once, the less you get done.

People often seem to believe that multitasking is an inherently good thing. There’s nothing wrong with packing for work while listening to the radio, as those are two simple tasks. But the fact is that trying to do two complex tasks at once will result in a loss of productivity, according to research.

Here’s what you can learn from this:

  • Mindfully pay attention to and focus on the task at hand, and don’t let your attention be snatched away.
  • It is better to do one thing well than to do two things poorly
  • Multitasking isn’t an indicator of capability or intelligence

10. You don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone.

This widespread concept is awful said with regret and sadness, and yet still, so many people fall victim to this paradox. The reality is that most don’t recognize the value of a part of their life until they notice its absence. There is a lot to be grateful for in everyday life, and you need to appreciate it to avoid becoming the next fodder for this contradictory-sounding concept.

Here’s what you can learn from this–and how it adds to a meaningful life:

  • Learn to be grateful for everyday things, even having your basic needs met, in a way that ensures you don’t forget your privilege.
  • Never take the people in your life for granted and communicate well to them about their value to you.
  • Take regular time to reflect on what you’re grateful for and how to best express that gratitude.

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Final Thoughts On Some Life Paradoxes That You Can Use To Live A Meaningful Life

Paradoxes are a little split of ironic chaos in the world we live in, and understanding how they pertain to life can grant you an impressive understanding of the world. Apply this understanding to your ways of living, perspectives, and ideas, and you’ll find that these paradoxes can give your life a beautiful, meaningful life.

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I love being a staff writer at Power of Positivity, but hate that my house can't clean itself! I hold a degree in Accounting and Business Management from the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (UK). When I'm not writing, I'm busy gardening or picking up after my kids, or running after them! My biggest passion, next to my precious children, is writing and sharing joy with people I meet!

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