Neurophysiology of the sense of meaning.
The feeling of meaning is an instinct, not a thought; more specifically it’s not a secondary consequence of rational processes. It is way more profound than that; the search of meaning drives rationality itself.
Imagine there is an optimal load that a person can bear. If you exceed that optimal load it is to your determent & work to little there is no gain in the search.
You have to find that “thin edge,” where you are competent at what you are doing but you’re pushing yourself. That’s where meaning lies.
Competent and out of undue danger but pushing yourself enough whereby you are continuing your development.
That is extinct of meaning.
Which, to some researchers is the consequence of the interactions between the right & left hemispheres of the brain & also, the implications between the negative emotion systems (anxiety & pain) that regulate you, e.g., protect you from harm & the exploratory play systems that drive you forward.
Optimally you want the exploratory & play systems to drive you forward but at the same time, you want the emotional regulatory system to protect you from overexposing yourself to danger or undue harm.
If you can get the balance between the two systems optimally right than you arrive at the maximal point of challenge or meaning to one’s life.
A side-effect may include alertness because your positive emotional systems are firing and driving your forward. Statements may consist of, “This is worth doing!”
Meanwhile, your negative emotions are alert, reiterating mantras of caution and the dangers of complacency. Internal statements may include: “Stay awake, & Be Careful!”
At the point of maximal gain, & the sense of meaning puts you on the border of chaos & order.
Too much order means you’re just practicing what you already know resulting in stupefaction & stagnation; conversely, to much chaos means an increased probability of encountering danger.
What did Dr. Thompson say about “ the edge”?
“The Edge…There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. The others-the living-are those who pushed their control as far as they felt they could handle it, and then pulled back, or slowed down, or did whatever they had to when it came time to choose between Now and Later.
― Hunter S. Thompson, Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga
-R.W.N II, yours in 322.