This is the third time I am writing on the topic of life. Following are the previous posts on thoughts on life
Over the years, my own realizations on life have been evolving. Personally, I am not interested in defending whatever my past self-used to believe. I think it is a critical trait that keeps mee continuously seeking the meaning of life. While I do not drastically contradict my past perspectives on life, I got to admit that evolution happens, and I consciously leave room for evolution of understanding on life.
We all want to be happy. And there is a point in life where material or monetary gain no longer makes you happy as they used to be. There used to be a sense of achievement with a promotion or an increment in the job. But the more senior you get, the less attractive those become. Then you start to look around what real happiness is. And sometimes it happens to be that life’s meaning has more weight than the sheet seeking of happiness.
People work hard, earn and go on a trip spending that money for a break. And after few days you are back at work to earn again in search of money to be spent on next break. Does that make any sense?
Why are we not so happy?
It helps to spend time to reason the rationale of time spent on working and on non-work. When I was in meetings I used to often wonder, “Why am I here?” and “Why are we discussing this now?”. Often times within myself it made me realize that there is no sense at all in being there myself and having to discuss that topic. It was an utter waste of time most of the time. However, people attend meetings or do the same work over and over again due to a simple reason – they never ask the “Why?” question.
The “Why?” question a seemingly simple yet complicated question. For example, the quest to seek meaning of life starts with a simple why question – “Why am I here?”.
Often, we connect the meaning of life to purpose. The purpose would be a shallow one if we do not question it enough. Why does that purpose matter? If you are to feel the purpose deep enough, your eyes need to glitter, and you need to feel your heartbeat when you explain your purpose. If it does not make your eyes glitter, then you have not got to the proper purpose.
Purpose could be simple. It could be as simple as “Be useful” or “Be compassionate”. And when you spend moments of your daily routines you can simply check your activities against your purpose. For some years now, I often used to pull away from work or tasks I am engaged with if it did not fit my purpose. I wanted to help empower people by sharing my experiences and mentoring / counselling skills. However, if the audience did not pay attention or did not follow up, I pulled up as it was wasting my time that could have used to help reach those who care.
Life Story and Storytelling
In life we build our own story. And we become storytellers based on our life story. After all, it is a story, not a real time recording. So, we have the freedom to plot our story the way we want. A story with a fitting purpose will help you find meaning every time you tell your story. Storytelling is a critical part that you need to spend time on. If you do not have the audience, you may want to write it down for yourself. It also matters how many times that you repeat your story. The more you repeat, the more tuned and more meaningful it would be.
Sense of Belonging
No matter how professional, experienced, senior in role, popular you are, you belong to your family, the loved ones and your closest friends. I used to be a senior executive leader who led and manage a team with over 400 people. Over the years I have worked with more than 1000 people. And then I quit. After few years of quitting, I only have less than 10 people in my circle. The inner circle is less and 5 people. Our sense of belonging matters a lot. However, when you are at the peak of your career the “belonging” you have is fake for the most part. People flock around not because they are really in your circle, but because of the perceived gains they associate with you.
To understand the real sense of true belonging you need to lose your job, give away your titles, get into retirement mode and look around you. Now when you realize that your circle has shrunk beyond belief, and you are upset about it, then you are in trouble. That is because, you have misunderstood your sense of belonging. Your sense of belonging needs to be associated to the circle that matter. That circle that matter is the one which would not fade away with your title, job or wealth loss. Your ability to identify the few in this circle before you are hit with the bus is critical. And you need to take time and build the belonging with that circle that matter over time. In simple terms, you need to spend more time with your family and close friends before it is too late.
Reflecting and Recollecting
In the past few years, I got used to spend more quiet time. Reflecting and recollecting needs time. That give you time to better realize your purpose, your story, your sense of belonging. When we are busy working; we lose sight of who we are in the big picture – the big picture of the universe. What is the last time you spent staring at the night sky? Did you spend a moment to think about the scale of the universe? When you are busy, you feel that you are the center of everything. But you tend to forget that we are part of something lager. In your life, you need some time on transcendent experiences. That helps us gain better insights to help answer the question on “What is the meaning of my life?”
In Search of Meaning
Sense of meaning leads to greater and more meaningful happiness in life. As you mature and get closer to mid-life, your sense of time changes. Time has elapsed and you may or may not have reached your goals. And you may or may not have lot of time left. And time is precious. One of the feeling that young people go though is the sense that they have time. However, before you realize, you will reach your 30s and 40s. And the great question is, what are you going to do with the rest of your life. If you treat your life as a lottery and keep taking chances, you might not want to do that anymore when you are reaching your late 40s. That is because, life is too short to live for other people’s dreams. You need to go after your dreams.
Well, ideally, you should go after your dreams from day one. The dreams sold to us by advertisers, banks, insurance and finance agencies could end up all fake. The house you build at the age of 30 could last for another 50 years, but would you? Now if you are upset that you might not enjoy it for that long, may be your greed is taking your happiness away. However, if you dedicate your house for a greater purpose after you pass, and you do it now, you might enjoy deeper happiness. The real question is, would your dreams lead you to greater happiness? If not, you may want to revisit and revive your dreams.
When you attach your sense of achievement to the pillars of life’s meaning, you will have a better feel of life. When you realize that you are part of a lager ecosystem, learn how to live in harmony with that ecosystem, be grateful for the benefits you enjoy from that ecosystem and give something back; you will realize your life is better, happier and meaningful.