What am I doing here? What is the meaning of this thing called life?
Mankind has been struggling with these existential questions for times immemorial. I doubt that there is anyone that, at any point in life, hasn’t pondered these. I know I have and to this date I can’t give a clear answer.
I can claim to be doing the exact same thing as every other living being: I am here, living my life, in pursuit of happiness and avoiding suffering. How’s that for accuracy and vagueness at the same time?
I believe that too much thought, put into finding the ‘right answers’ to such questions, can lead to much suffering and ultimately, mental illness. It can be very easy for someone to answer these questions with nihilist philosophies: “I’m doing nothing here. There simply isn’t any point to all of this. It’s all a big nothing”. The consequences of such convictions can be tragic.
Unfortunately, there are those who give up every day and I shake in terror to think that anyone I know might be experiencing such beliefs. If I was to have a friend, claiming to see no point in ‘all this’, I would give him/her the following advice:
- Meditate – your mind is an incredible and powerful device and its most amazing capabilities can only be developed through regular practice. Exercise it daily. Exercise it when you don’t feel like it, or feel like you don’t need it. Don’t use it as Panadol to take away the random ache but as something vital for your wellbeing – its longer-lasting benefits can only be reaped by systematic practice. Set it in your schedule and focus on the present moment, focus on what you’re grateful for, focus on bringing happiness to others. I AM a better person since I started this practice. I feel it and the people around me do too.
- Ask for help – seek professional assistance. Someone who will listen and provide expert advice but not medication. I may be wrong, but I believe that most conditions begin and end with and in our minds and chemicals shouldn’t be involved.
- Minimise – Getting rid of your excess stuff is merely the first (and essential) step to get more. More time, more health, more freedom and definitely more meaning. I HAVE experienced its benefits and so have many others.
- Contribute – money is all well and good, but donating your time is far more rewarding and significant for all. Help those whose needs are below yours in Maslow’s pyramid. From many books I read and also from a yet limited personal experience, there is great happiness in contributing.
- Commit to change – stop thinking “What if?” and have the guts to make the change you believe to be right. Plan, commit and see it through.
- Call me whenever anything fails. Call me whenever something works. Call me whenever. Better yet, come over, it’s nice here 😉
Something I will not do, is tell you that you have loved ones and that you should endure all your existential pain for them. I’m a father too and I don’t need anyone to remind me of that.
But I will tell you this truth, YOUR EXISTENCE IS BEAUTIFUL AND YOU ARE NOT ALONE – many of us suffer from a perceived lack of a plan and existential goals. I don’t think you need a comprehensive plan, but rather a set of guidelines that will help you take a step forward and then another whilst enjoying them all.
I’m ever more convinced that the answer is in the journey and not in the destination.