“What’s the meaning of life? I’ve often heard these words tossed around as conversation starters at formal, informal functions, among friends and even just random conversation between people to kill time.
All conversations are hypothetical, because the truth is, everyone’s own meaning of life may be different. With so many options and choices to choose from, there is no right or wrong answer to this question.
Now that doesn’t mean that one person is more right or more wrong than another. It’s simply a matter of perspective. The perspective and answer I have chosen to this great question is to be happy.
The meaning of life has been a question that has been on my mind more and more lately. I don’t talk about it with others much, because lately, I’ve wanted to do some soul searching and find my own meaning and my own purpose to life. Within this thinking, I’ve come to the conclusion that the meaning of life, at least for me, is a simple one. I choose the simple path because it works for me. It works for me because without happiness, I lack the desire to do anything more than just exist. We all have more to offer the world than to just exist.
My happiness may come off as selfish to others who read this or judge my answer but there are also many benefits from my happiness.
For starters, if I am happy, I am infectious. I am more likely to make those around me more happy. If I am making others happy, it tends to create a domino effect which in turn will make other people want to be happy. My happiness can create a light environment for those around me and create a comfort level for people to more easily adapt. If I am happy, then it is easier for others to be happy around me, thus creating a more unified environment.
The inverse of course being if I’m unhappy, my unhappiness is likely to cause a hostile environment and make others uncomfortable in my presence.
Others may choose a more complex path or answer to the meaning of life. There is no one size fits all for this answer. What may make one person happy may not make another happy, however at the end of the day, if we all find our own happiness, the world is a much brighter place to live in. There is less stress and people get along with more authenticity.
Sure, I could make it my life’s mission to be out in the world searching for a cure for fatal diseases. That would certainly have a greater impact on humanity and saving lives is a great answer to the question of what the meaning of life is all about.
However I, like many of us, are not blessed with the ability or the knowledge to cure diseases and alter the course of mankind. It’s a blatant and blunt fact, for if each of us could do something remarkable for mankind, we would be doing so so that our name is forever etched in history.
Just because a name isn’t remembered in a book does that make a life less valuable? We are all put here for a purpose and it is for each of us to decide what the best use of our time is spent doing. I believe that every life has worth; every life has meaning.
However let us be realistic. Many of us simply don’t have ability or motivation to create such life-altering changes to the world. It does not make us bad people, it’s simply our limitations and our personal priorities that get in our own way. Taking the simplistic approach is not the cowards way out or not living life to the fullest, it is taking a theoretical concept and owning it for ourselves.
Trying to save the world is often frustrating and difficult. Some of the brightest minds in the world were often plagued by some form of depression or unhappiness. Yet it is was their destiny and calling to make such radical changes for the world. A reason why history remembers only a handful of great names when compared to the number of people who have graced the earth at one point or another. Again, this does not diminish the importance or value of the billions of people who have graced the earth, for we each have value and something unique to share with the world. And if not the world, then those around us. Sharing is caring. Sharing is contagious.
Happiness is a feelings we have and in most cases, it’s a feeling we can have control over. I do not believe that wanting personal happiness is selfish. Personal happiness can lead us down different paths and help us find different callings in life that help other people and spread our own happiness on to others.
We are all given this gift of life. Some of us are more fortunate than others to be able to do more with the time they are afforded. Some are so driven that they expend enormous amounts of energy to do great things and be of service to the global community with their lives. Those are the people that deserve a round of applause for their dedication to using their talents to make the world a better place. These fortunate people found their own calling and their own meaning to the great question of what our purpose is on this planet. I believe they understood we each must find our own path.
So again I propose the question, what is the meaning of life?
My assessment is that there is no one right or wrong answer. It is an answer we must each find within ourselves. Let not the search consume us too long because there are simple versions and possibilities. Having a simple answer does not mean we have less to offer or are of less value, instead we accept that it is our responsibility to take care of the most precious gift we are ever given, the gift of life.
I have chosen to find and pursue happiness as my meaning of life. Some of it may be selfish as I mentioned before, but I believe that my happiness can lead to the happiness of others. When I am happy I am more productive and feel a greater sense of purpose within all things I do. Happiness is a contagion, a positive one!
As my life comes to a close, I want to be able to look back and say, I did everything I wanted and planned on doing. I made a difference in the lives of others. I lived a happy life, and as I draw my final breath I want to have a smile on my face knowing that I lived a full and happy life and left behind a small legacy that will be remembered and celebrated by those who were knew me and were close to me. As my grandfather said before he passed away, “I want my death to be celebrated.” We always do, as ironically he died the day I was born. We celebrate our lives together, and the happiness we both were and are blessed with.
Author: Adam Wilkinson