Pondering What’s The Meaning of Life
What is the meaning of life? That is a question that bubbles under the surface of anyone who desires to be a person of substance, someone who wants their life to matter, and for those on a search for significance.
When considering what the meaning of life is specific to them individually, it usually leads to a follow-up question concerning their purpose – “What is the purpose of life?” or more specifically, “What is the purpose of my life – Why am I here?”
Order and Purpose Built Into the Randomness as we Search for the Meaning of Life
As far as purpose goes, the world is full of it. We use inanimate objects daily that were created for a specific purpose, yet we find no reason to think that those items need to feel significance or a sense of fulfillment. They simply do what they were created to do to the best of their ability and design.
We do not see a clothes hanger refusing to be draped by a jacket, nor do we see a rose striving to bloom quicker, or trying to change into a chrysanthemum in order to achieve a higher sense of fulfillment. A rose simply blooms when it is time, without any help from us.
Every moment of every day we are surrounded by what at first looks like randomness, yet closer observation and a broader perspective will reveal there is order within the chaos. Instinct and purpose are built into every creature that exists. From spiders that help maintain the population of flying insects to hummingbirds and bees who help pollinate the local foliage, there is a system and process in place that helps nature not just exist, but thrive.
The same is true for us as a human race as well, except we were given a much more unique, some would say even a higher purpose, for living. Unlike inanimate objects, or even many of the living plants and creatures that share our planet, the human race was created with the ability to think, assess, evaluate, and choose.
Sometimes we use our elevated ability to choose our best options in life and find ourselves thriving as we experience success and fulfillment on a regular basis. This is when we are aligned within the order, processes and systems that all work together within our created universe.
Then, there are other times when we use our ability to choose habits, possessions, and behaviors that aren’t beneficial to us, or anyone. When we choose a path out of alignment with our potential and purpose, this is when we find ourselves asking, “How did I get here?” This is when we need more than ever to find the answer to our question – what is the meaning of life?
Overthinking the Question: What’s the Meaning of Life?
Because of our unique ability to use our high-functioning brains to make moral choices in how we go about finding the meaning of life, we are also prone to overthink those options. Why? Because we are so afraid of making a wrong choice that we just stay where we are, afraid of the unknown possibilities that we could achieve if we just made the decision to take that first step toward finding out the answer to this question: What is the purpose of life?
Many times we overthink our options because we are afraid to fail. The problem there is that we only fail at life when we stop trying.
When we get stuck, sometimes we think that the only answer is for someone else to come bail us out, to tell us what to do, show us where to go, to fill our need of affirmation, fulfillment and purpose, and to do the hard work for us. When that doesn’t happen, we blame others for our inability to move, failing to see that we had the option to move all along. We simply had to choose to do so.
Thinking about doing something is not the same as actually doing something. Don’t be afraid to make a decision, and do not regret decisions you have made, even if they didn’t turn out as planned. At least you chose to move. A moving vehicle can at least be steered in the right direction, but it’s almost impossible to move a parked car.
Tedx Speaker, Author, and Life Strategist, Scott Ginsberg, also known as Scott the Name Tag Guy, says “…if we want people to take a real interest in our aspirations and encourage our goals and dreams, the best thing we can do is start. Behave our way into being noticed. Footholds appear when we move our feet, not when we scream out for help.”
There is no other person, place, position, title, or amount of money that can fill the need for purpose and meaning in our lives. No one else is meant to carry the burden of our personal purpose and fulfillment. To put that off on someone else is equivalent to abandoning the systems and process already set in place. Shirking your ability to pursue your own value, worth, and purpose puts you out of alignment with the rest of creation that exists, and you only find yourself further and further away from the people and things in life that truly matter, and further away from that which will bring you the fulfillment, purpose and meaning that you seek.
Don’t wait for someone to tell you where to plant your foot, just step out and take action – move yourself forward towards your purpose and the meaning of your life will find you.
That’s part of the dichotomy of having the ability to choose.Under-thinking the Question: What’s the Meaning of Life?
Other than overthinking it, the next greatest disservice we sometimes do to ourselves is that we fail to think enough about some of the things in life that matter most. In fact, many people actually dismiss the things in their life that could actually provide them with the very answers they are seeking as they ponder the meaning of life!
We are bombarded day in and day out with multi-million-dollar marketing campaigns that have convinced us that we need to work harder so we can obtain all the “stuff” we need to feel successful. Without realize it, many of us have fallen into the trap of thinking that obtaining stuff will somehow lead to a purposeful and fulfilling life.
However, if we just take a moment to think about this, it soon becomes clear that working for all the stuff only takes us away from the people that matter to us the most. Working to obtain things that don’t matter keeps us from doing the things that do matter. What matters is utilizing our gifts and talents in life to help fill a need in this world. That is how you open up the floodgates of joy and fulfillment in life.
Another trap we fall into is that we need to somehow turn into someone else in order to find purpose and fulfillment. So we morph into some manufactured template that dictates daily how we should look, walk, talk, dress, and behave, and then wonder why we feel so empty, useless, and unfulfilled.
We underthink our power as a unique individual, including our natural talents and giftedness. There are things that each of us can do so naturally and effortlessly that we come to believe everyone can do what we do, and probably better. So we discard those abilities as nothing special in pursuit of a skill we think will elevate our status somehow, or make us more money.
However, whenever we focus on being someone we’re not, or on a skill instead of a natural talent, we will hit a ceiling every time. It’s only when we are true to ourselves by tapping into our natural gifts that we find limitless possibilities for our future.
By living the best version of ourselves and who we were created to be, we add to life’s amazement and mystery instead of life’s chaos and misery. When we under think our abilities and fail to participate in our own life’s purpose, we will find ourselves traveling dead-end roads with companions whose main goal is to keep us as miserable as they are. If we took a moment to sit back, think about, and assess our choices, the moment of derailment will become clear.
Regardless of your belief in how we all came to be, our creation alone is testament to the fact that there is a reason and order to the existence of all things. As individuals, we did not appear on this earth because of our own desire to exist. Instead, we develop desires of experiencing life to the fullest degree possible because of our existence within the process and order of the universe that has been created.
How to Find the Right Balance of Control while Pursuing the Meaning of Life
We do not consciously choose to enter this world, nor do we have much control on when we leave. Maybe that’s why we spend so much time searching for what can be controlled during the time in between.
However, trying to maintain a position of control over things never meant to be controlled can prove disastrous for one’s self-esteem as we try to reconcile the interruptions, limitations, and failures with our laminated, unwavering 20-year plan we’ve posted on our refrigerator.
Everyone has heard that you need to have goals. Not just regular goals, but SMART goals. SMART goals mean that your goals are Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Even better, make your goals SMARTER by adding a plan of Execution and a system for Rewarding yourself when you achieve that goal. Then, whenever those goals or plans aren’t accomplished, let it go and reassess.
Goals are very important in life, but there’s a lot more to fulfillment, purpose and finding the meaning of life than just achieving a random set of goals. For optimal results, your goals should be aligned with your life’s purpose in order for you to find the personal meaning and fulfillment you are seeking. Goals need to be fluid, flexible, and have the ability to move freely within your own personal discoveries as you journey to find your giftedness as it relates to your meaning of life and purpose.
It’s also very important to remember that some of the most memorable, meaningful moments in life are rarely planned. The stressed out bride who obsesses over every detail of a wedding that has to be perfect, or else, is rarely remembered. However, the toddling ring bearer whose too-big tuxedo pants fall off while he’s walking down the aisle will be a memory that’s talked about for years. It’s the unexpected – not the planned – that gets our attention, which makes us sit up and take notice, and makes us engage in the life happening around us every day. This is where fulfillment begins.
So many people rush through those unexpected interruptions that get us out of sync with our minute-by-minute plan for the day that they totally miss the opportunity to add meaning and significance to not only their life, but more importantly, to someone else’s life.
Your Rose-Colored Glasses need a Reverse-Angled Lens
Whatever we choose to look for, we will find. So naturally, it’s best to look for the positive side of any circumstance. Looking at life through rose-colored glasses isn’t a bad way to look at life, as long as we take on a new perspective from a reverse-angled lens. In order to experience something different, we have to do something different. We cannot keep doing the same thing and then expect different results.
What may seem logical at first, or look good on paper as we work out our plan to find the meaning of life, might not be what we truly need. If we stick to the plan without allowing life to show us a better way, we could end up fruitless in our search.
When we feel lonely, we expect someone to appear to make us feel a part of something, but then we generally find ourselves waiting a long time for someone to appear. However, when we realize we need to reverse our angle, we realize that the antidote for loneliness is to go out and put the effort into being around other people with similar interests.
When we feel sad and depressed, we convince ourselves that we’re better off in isolation, but that’s the very thing that keeps us sad and depressed. Looking at it through a more realistic perspective shows us the power we have in changing ourselves, and what can happen when we step out and do something of meaning and purpose, despite the way we feel. This is how we find meaning and purpose in our lives. It’s not about us – it’s about what we can do for others.
“What’s the Meaning of Life?” It Has the same answer as “What is the Purpose of Life?”
Instead of looking at the bank account, social status, fame, or your accumulation of personal possessions for fulfillment, try focusing on something a bit more permanent and within your control – figure out what you were purpose-built to do. Your talents, gifts, and natural abilities will be directly tied to your life-related purpose, which inevitably will meet a need or provide a solution to people who have been searching for what you are able to provide, in the unique way that only you can.
As you work to discover your purpose and passion in life, remember that it will not be tied to a title or position – those are fleeting achievements that won’t last. Your purpose and passion in life will instead be something of value that cannot be bought, attained, or earned. It will be something you were born to do!
The meaning of life is not some mystical secret. It is a personal, intentional process of discovering a need in the world, and then utilizing your inborn gifts and talents to meet that need. Just as a rose effortlessly blooms, you simply need to do what you were created to do to the best of your inborn ability and design.
This is important work. This is what brings the fulfillment we need to put up with all the chaos and unpredictability of life. Doing what we were born to do provides fulfillment within ourselves and does not require affirmation or acknowledgement from anyone else. In using our gifts, we fulfill our purpose as we answer “What’s the meaning of Life?” In doing so, we rise above the negative noise of the world as we choose to find peace and fulfillment through our purposeful service to mankind.