We've all gone through tough times in our lives - that's a given. Depending on where you live in the world, the problem gets exacerbated by the guilt of it being "wrong" to feel sorry for yourself.
So in this scenario, let's say you feel "stuck" with your life because "it's not going anywhere." Not that you're suffering or don't have enough to eat, or even that you HATE your life or are scared. This is much more terrible. This is the sense of mundane futility, a sense of "is this all there is?"
The answer may very well be "Yes. That's all there is."
Enter "Thou shalt..."
Life is full of thou shalts, but they don't make much sense to me, mostly because they are inauthentic by definition.
I mean how can you be expected to make yourself feel the way you are supposed to feel and still be authentic. Like, say, honoring your parents or loving god or appreciating what you have.
Those are all well and good, but maybe your life IS mundane and meaningless and that's how you authentically feel. Does telling yourself "I'm not allowed to feel this way" REALLY make you stop feeling that way? I don't think so.
Instead I think it's far better to admit that you do feel that way, and there's not really much you can do about it. You're going to have moments that you also experience irrational joy. Do you tell yourself "Ok self. Don't be too happy, because you know where this leads! That's right, pretty soon you'll feel less happy." That seems equally silly.
Now I'm not saying people deserve what they want or they should feel sorry for themselves or be spoiled, etc. Quite the contrary. I think the first step to satisfaction and peace is to acknowledge that you're just going to feel really terrible once in a while, and that's perfectly fine. Don't try so hard to "make yourself feel better." Instead just kind of flow through it - like a bad spot in a river or a little turbulence on the plane.
Allowing yourself to feel negative emotions and just thinking of them as another life experience takes a lot of the stress away. I mean the whole point of life is to spend it having a variety of experiences, at least as far as I can tell. "Real Meaning" is a fabrication anyway. If you have it, more power to you.
There's an old Zen technique where masters will tell students that they have to solve some kind of riddle. They are also given some kind of time limit. Of course every time they come with the "answer" they are told that the answer is incorrect, they must look deeper, but time is limited and soon, it'll be too late.
No Satori for you!
Of course the whole point is to expose how ridiculous it is to go around searching for meaning. But you have to actually feel that sense of futility and authentically embrace it. You can't just mouth the words or play the part. That's cheating, and the master will know, presumably. So his task is to expose you to your own ridiculousness; and depending on the kind of person you are will determine how hard you have to work before you stop working so hard. You can't try to not try so hard... it doesn't work. You have to actually give up and that takes a lot of futile effort.
Just think how hard it is to swim against a strong river current. The more you struggle, the more you fight, the more tired you become, the more stressful the whole activity becomes. It's not a good metaphor because implied in it is that the current is something we should wish to escape from. In that regard this is different. This isn't something we can escape from. It's not really about "shalts."
You'll feel good sometimes, you'll feel bad sometimes. That's good thing because otherwise the whole thing wouldn't work very well.