The Sunny Nihilist by Wendy Syfret #BookshelfScavengerHunt
Welcome to the second installment of the Bookshelf Scavenger Hunt series. With every post, I choose a book and challenge myself to find at least one brilliant idea to share.
When I first pulled The Sunny Nihilist off the shelf at the library, I quickly felt the urge to put it back. It seemed to express a worldview quite different from mine.
Author Wendy Syfret is fed up with the constant pursuit of meaning.
The back cover of the book explains “… she encourages us to dismantle our self-care and self-centered way of living and accept a life that is more or less ordinary.”
On top of that, here’s one definition of a nihilist I found:
“A person who believes that life is meaningless and rejects all religious and moral principles.”
My brain nearly short-circuited.
“Well, that pretty much goes against everything I believe in and preach!”
Then I took a breath and thought, “It might be good for me to expose myself to a different point of view.” So I took the book home to take a closer look.
I still have a lot of issues with the premise, especially with chapter titles such as “The Myth of Meaningful Work” and “Following Your Heart (Into the Void).”
I’ve spent a good portion of my life setting goals and intentions, visualizing a better life, and designing a life filled with creativity, joy, laughter, and passion.
Those qualities don’t always come naturally to us. So it helps to stay focused on pursuing those experiences and states of being.
But the more I skimmed through the book, the more I realized Wendy Syfret has a point. As she states in the first chapter …
“Stop trying to make everything a thing.”
I started to agree with her. While I do believe people benefit greatly from finding meaning in their lives, I also admit people can go overboard with the pursuit.
If we pack our schedules too tightly with reading self-help books, doing affirmations, having deep conversations, and constantly hustling to chase our dreams, it can lead to burnout. And overwhelm.
Sometimes, doing something mindless is good for the soul.
It’s perfectly fine to either do nothing at all or engage in something for pure joy, with no intended outcome.
These pointless retreats can actually help us rest and relax, which can recharge our mental, physical, and spiritual batteries.
So that’s my main takeaway from The Sunny Nihilist.
Don’t make everything a thing. Give yourself permission to simply be, exist, and play.
I still believe we benefit from knowing what we want and taking inspired steps to become better, more fulfilled humans.
But we can balance those important pursuits with the simple pleasures of pointlessness.