Meaning of life revealed: It’s about others
Ok, let’s have a take on this age-old mystery. The answer is in fact quite simple. The meaning of life is to make oneself meaningful to other people. It’s about making a positive contribution in the lives of those people one holds dear. Why? I’ll tell you why.
To start with, we need to focus on the one asking the question. Because most of us never ask such a question in all its seriousness. For most of us the question is a joke, something to make fun of when we want to mock too deep-going thinking. On the other hand, there are those artists who have taken this enigma so seriously that they have been driven to suicide by this haunting question. So, who asks the question?
Only those people who have for some reason distanced themselves from the framework for life given to them by their upbringing. Most people never seriously question the worldview provided by the society around them or their religion – be it Christianity, Buddhism, Islam or the modern alternative: Consumerism. The question opens itself up in all its seriousness to only those of us who for one reason or another have started to question the given, the values and purposes that they were brought up to believe in.
Next, we need to look at the question itself. What do we really ask, when we ask about the meaningfulness of our lives?
Question of meaningfulness is in the end a question about making our lives have meaning in some framework bigger than ourselves. As long as we are asking how to make ourselves happy or how to maximize our own outcomes in life we are not asking about the meaning of our life. These are perfectly legitimate questions and some people are able to live their lives without asking anything else. But only when they ask what bigger meaning their lives might have, do they start to care about making their lives meaningful. Thus we need to find something bigger than ourselves that we can believe in and that we feel we can contribute to in order to feel that our life has a meaning.
Where to then look for something bigger than ourselves? As said, those asking the question are the people who no longer believe to an answer external to them. They have distanced themselves from modern consumerism and ancient religions. There is then only one direction from which they can look for an answer: Inside of them. And what do we find inside of us? We find that we are creatures that are deeply dependent on others. We are creatures that want to belong. We are creatures that build our sense of value through sensing how others value us. It is extremely hard to uphold a high regard of ourselves if others don’t care about us at all. As creatures who need to feel connected, we want that others care about us.
Given our psychological build-up the most solid base for purpose we can genuinely believe in is found in other people. When we believe that we contribute positively to lives of others, then we feel that our life has value and meaning. That’s how simple it is. What group of others is most important to one is then a matter of preference. Some find meaning through their own kids, others through their work and still others through some voluntary work: Orphans in Africa, homeless in your home town, breast cancer victims, whatever is your cup of tea.
Meaning of life is to make oneself meaningful to others. It is up to you to decide to whom you want to be meaningful.
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