What’s the meaning of life? That’s always been the question, hasn’t it?
Why am I here? Why is there so much pain and suffering? What’s the point of finding a job and going through life hating everything just so you could earn a bit of cash to fund your drinking habit (totally not me by the way)?
Fortunately, many others have asked that question before you. Unfortunately, not many have come to a satisfying conclusion.
But at least you won’t be the first one trodding this path of questioning. You’ll have more than a thousand years’ worth of wisdom to glean from, from the stoic reflections of Marcus Aurelius to the controversial views of Nietzsche.
Thing is though, they could all be right, or they could all be wrong. This article included. And whether they’re right or not depends entirely on you.
We all have our perspectives
That’s right, you. The one who might, or might not, like Greek philosophy. The one who may, or may not be, someone who measures life only by the amount of thickness of one’s wallet.
Everything that’s good and bad in this world is so because you view it that way.
Wait a minute, Stu, you say. Surely there are things that everyone thinks aren’t good. What about murder?
I bet the murderers among you wouldn’t agree.
Okay, fine. What about natural disasters?
You’d be surprised at the amount of righteous doomsayers we have in our midst.
Slow Wi-Fi. Nobody loves slow Wi-Fi.
Close, but there are people who don’t really care about the internet that much.
Fine. Things are good or bad only because I see it that way.
Good. Now that we’re on the same page, I guess it’s also time to point out that the meaning of life differs from person to person. And if you’ve always been asking yourself this question, then you need to start looking within, because that’s where you’ll find the answers.
Still feeling useless?
Of course, you don’t need to start from scratch, because finding meaning in life can generally be found in these two places: by being useful and by helping others.
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Now, before you start telling me how you don’t have any useful skills, I want you to look at yourself in the mirror. See your hands and legs? The world always needs more labour, so you’re not as useless as you think.
If you’re physically disabled, you can instead choose to look at your ears. Have you been by someone’s side in their time of need? You don’t know how important a shoulder to cry on can be.
And if you really drew the short straw and don’t have any of those on you, well then you living life itself is an inspiration to others. Nick Vujicic sure did achieve more than his able-bodied counterparts.
Is there really a meaning to all this?
But why bother because we’re all going to die in the end anyway, right? I know you’re not that morbid though, because if you were, you wouldn’t even be questioning the meaning of life in the first place.
If you want to know the meaning of life, it’s probably because you’re sure that there has to be something more to this.
“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”
And there is something more to this. It lies in every moment of your waking life. It’s there when you do the dishes, or when you fix a flat tyre. There’s something to learn from cleaning the house as much as there is in going to a job you hate.
Maybe it’s you learning that you don’t belong, and that it’s time to really try to go somewhere you do.
Maybe it’s realising that no matter how imperfect things turn out, it’s still your life, lived only the way you can.
Maybe it’s the decision to smile through your pain, even though you know it’s never going to end for as long as you live.
Whatever it is, the meaning of your life is a question that only you can answer. No one else can do that for you.
And if you still go through life not finding it out, at least you’ll learn that you can be useful if you choose to be, no matter who or what you are.