If you’ve found yourself on this post, then the likelihood is that you’ve been recently questioning what the meaning of life really is.
I think that this is a question that many of us have come across at some point in our lives, maybe in a matter of crisis, maybe as a result of external stresses and pressures, or maybe just as a by-thought that hasn’t really had a huge impact on our day-to-day lives. Whatever the reason, I think it is a really important debate to have, because it can allow us to totally tune into the world; the meaning of it, it’s purpose, and why all of this matters so much to us.
For most of you, I’m guessing, you will be pondering on this philosophical question as a result of your current position in life. Perhaps you’re going through a difficult time in life, and you’re wondering what the purpose of life is. Or maybe, perhaps, you’re doing everything you can to achieve and believe and be happy, but you’re still not wholly satisfied with the life that you’ve been given. No matter the reasoning behind it, the answer to such a question is one with huge discussion, meaning that the way that you look at your life from here, could be about to change forever.
Life is what you make it.
I may only be the young age of 21, but I am significantly aware of how life can cause you a huge number of struggles. You’re told, ‘but that’s just life’ every time something goes wrong, and you’re expected to just pick yourself back up and act as if it has never happened. You’re told to embrace life’s ‘ups and downs’, and take each day in your stride, but when the struggles and the hurdles outweigh the positives in life, it’s easy to pose this question in your mind again – what is the true meaning of life, when it feels like all it does is do you wrong?
Now, here’s the thing, life is what you make it. This life is yours, and nobody else’s. You are in control of it, and what matters the most is the way in which you choose to respond to the struggles that life throws in your direction. The truth is, everybody has struggles, but not everybody suffers. This strongly relates to the notion of the law of attraction. If you choose to respond to negative chapters of your life with nothing but a positive attitude, then this positivity will fester itself into your reality, and you will experience a heightened quality of life. So, in simple matters, the true meaning of life is however you choose it to be, it is your reaction to life’s snowballs that determines the way that it will pan out.
“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life” – Albert Camus
Is there only one perception?
From what I have discovered, the ‘true meaning of life’ can actually differ hugely from person to person. Everybody values different things in life, depending on their belief systems, their upbringing, the social norms and values that they have been accustomed to, and so on. I have come across people who consider that the meaning of life is to become wealthy, and hold a certain social status. I have come across other people who value kindness and sincerity over specific social attainments. Personally, I have the perception that the meaning of life is actually all about self-improvement, self-development and self-exploration. By adopting these as your core values and belief systems, you will always be striving to do better and be more. You will have more of an enhanced life that tests you in every aspect of your being. To me, that is far more important than the amount of money you take home at the end of the year, and the social position you find yourself living in.
Living vs. Existing.
With this in mind, I see the meaning of life as being something more than just existing. For many of us, myself included at times, we spend our days on auto-pilot. We wake up, we go about our daily occurrences in our usual robotic format, and then we go to bed. We wake up, and repeat. This is what I would class as merely ‘existing’. Surely, we were put on this Earth for more of a reason than to simply ‘be’, and to do nothing outside of these mundane daily tasks. Surely, there is more to the life surrounding us that can give us more happiness than just existing? For sure, we could do things that make us braver, stronger, happier, more outgoing, more intelligent, and so on; but many of us are unwilling to take the risks in order to achieve them. The question is, would these give us an increased quality of life?
Maybe, for a short while, yes they would. But there needs to be more to our perception of the meaning of life than these small bouts of happiness and pleasure. When we rely on external factors to be the sole cause of our happiness, this is when the true meaning of life comes in to play. We need to find a way of living, so that even when these small bouts of happiness are gone, we still see that there is actually a meaning behind life, and be aware of ourselves enough to grab life with both hands and take control of which direction we choose to lead it into.
“Life has no meaning. Each of us has a meaning, and we bring it to life. We ask the question, but we are the answer” – Joseph Campbell
Fitting in is overrated anyway.
Commonly, the way we naturally lead our lives is a nose-dive straight to the dreaded ‘comfort zone’. When we avoid certain situations because they are outside of our comfort zone, without realising it we are leading our lives in the direction of this mere ‘existance’. The only reason that we perceive some actions as being outside of our comfort zone is a social construction that we have created ourselves, and placed on our own versions of ‘the meaning of life’. Informing ourselves of our mental, social and physical incapabilities means that we are limiting ourselves to what we can achieve in life, and therefore creating our ‘life’ in it’s true form. Personally, I have always felt that the comfort zone is a safe place, and I have recently realised that it’s actually quite the opposite – after all, nothing grows in the comfort zone. I have always felt that I will never fit in unless I stay exactly where I am, with the belief that that is exactly where I am supposed to be.
However I recently discovered a philosophical thought on this matter – maybe you’re not supposed to fit in, because you were made to stand out. I love this little phrase, it is so empowering and thought provoking. ‘Fitting in’ is a concern that a large number of people face at some point in life, and it can be enough to allow an individual to wonder what on earth the meaning of life is, because it feels like whatever it is, you just weren’t supposed to be a part of it. Instead, this provides a great way to flip the whole ordeal on its’ head. Who wants to fit in and be like everyone else, when you can stand out and be you? Surely, following from this perspective, the real meaning of life is actually about becoming the best version of you possible, and doing what you can with what you have. Only when you accept this thought, are you able to realise that the true meaning of life is actually your existance, your values, your experiences and your responses. The true meaning of life is all down to you.
What is your conclusion? I would love to hear your opinions on what you value to be the ‘true meaning of life’, to see how it differs from mine!