How to Find Joy in Your Sisyphean Existence

Arthur C. Brooks in The Atlantic:

Sisyphus, the king of Ephyra, was renowned in Greek mythology for his ingenuity; indeed, so clever was he that he cheated death twice, angering the gods. They took their revenge by condemning Sisyphus to eternal torment in the underworld: He had to roll a huge boulder up a hill. When he reached the top, the stone would roll back down to the bottom, and he would have to start all over, on and on, forever.

Nowadays, any task combining boredom, struggle, stress, and futility might be labeled “Sisyphean.” Think of so-called duct-tapers in customer service, who are tasked to deal with angry people all day, while the conditions that create those aggressive customers never change. I’ve used the word to describe my former job as a French-horn player in a professional symphony orchestra (which was approximately 99 percent boredom, 1 percent terror). One could even argue that all of life is Sisyphean: We eat to just get hungry again, and shower just to get dirty again, day after day, until the end.

Absurd, isn’t it? Albert Camus, the philosopher and father of a whole school of thought called absurdism, thought so. In his 1942 book The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus singles out Sisyphus as an icon of the absurd, noting that “his scorn of the gods, his hatred of death, and his passion for life won him that unspeakable penalty in which the whole being is exerted toward accomplishing nothing.” If that doesn’t make you want to reach for a filterless cigarette, I don’t know what will.

More here.