8 Ways to Find Meaning In Life (A Download on my 42nd Birthday)
As I approached my 42nd birthday, I hoped I had something profound to share. Afterall, Douglas Adams brilliant “Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy” clearly stated that “42” was the Meaning of Life.
Oddly, I barely slept last night as the following thoughts on Life’s Purpose came through. (To be honest, my inner voice had vague european accent while we hashed this out. Weird, huh?)
Finding Meaning in life is accomplished by doing 8 things.
You are an organism. Don’t forget it. We have miracle machines that fly us through the sky and build us cars that then propel is through the world. But don’t forget that you are a wild beast. You are full of muscle and nerves and sensation. Technology and tools can help us expand our experience of being a human. But we have come so far, that it now takes discipline & diligence to keep balance. Walk. Stretch. Play. And fuel your body with real food.
Look, life is going to give you problems. Instead of thinking, “Oh No!” every time something happens, try to think, “This is my new thing!”
Your life is probably filled with countless obstacles that are getting in your way. There is always some work, school, relationship, health or responsibility to deal with. That is kinda the definition of “life.” So try to change the way you look at those challenges.
Whatever you are doing? THAT is the task at hand. Be present & do it well. It will neither go faster nor easier if you complain.
If you are ever bored, try to find something that you could improve. It could be a weed in your yard, a moment in someone else’s day, an open-source framework that needs a better GUI. There are ALWAYS things that can be improved. Be a part of the solution. Life is a do-ocracy. If you can spend your time engaged in interesting challenges working towards things you believe in….you win.
Finding interesting challenges is what the Ride of Life is all about.
I have to admit, I kinda got tricked into learning this one. “Helping others is the best way to feel better about yourself!” Seemed just way too Lame to me. I always thought you needed to help others because it would reduce the guilt of having so much while others had less.
But learning about Gifting – and about how others’ joy could bring me joy – transformed my life.
We all think that we are bad at art. But that stems from a fundamental misunderdtandinhg of art. Art is expression. Art is beauty. So whatever you express and whatever you think is beautiful…is art.
And that goes WAY beyond a canvas or a slab of marble. Art is the way you throw a party, dress yourself, or respond to wrong numbers. Art is when you CHOOSE to do something because it feels right to you, not because of what you think you should do.
Where to place the paint stroke. When to fly a kite. Who to give a compliment to.
Learning to be a good listener will make you instantly become twice as interesting and charismatic. People often have trouble feeling heard…so if you can be the kind of person who listens, you give a great gift.
Grandpa Caleb used to spend a few hours a week at a “Listening Post” at his retirement community. He would just sit. and then anyone who wanted to, could come by and talk.
I would add a caveat that this does not mean you need always be available for people to rehash their limiting stories. If someone needs to tell you a sad story once, Listen. If they keep telling it, it better be in the context of how to make a change.
And to listening, I would include listening to yourself, as well. Taking time to be quiet is important. Try to pause from doing & fixing and instead “Sit in the question.” It is tempting to believe that we can think & act our way out of any jam. But often it requires some stillness before clarity can be restored.
Learn to be present for others and for yourself – and life will blossom.
The world is amazing. But with so much brilliance, it can be easy to take things for granted. “NEWS” is a collection of everything that has gone wrong and our cultural dialogue is obsessed with problems. It is good to take time to re-set your baseline each day and marvel at the experience of life. It is easy to eat food without tasting it, shower without feeling it, and drive by a meadow without seeing it. When we can practice to notice those things, life is amazing.
The written word has taken the concept of time and annihilated it. You can go anywhere. Not reading books is like not using your “Time Travel” Sense.
You are going to want to watch TV instead.
And, theoretically, that would be the same thing. Except it’s not.
Books are written by artists.
Movies are made by “Show Business.”
Our marketing culture has created a whole system that provides us a constant stream of brainstem-tickling base-level crap.
That is true for Food, Sex *and* Entertainment.
Slow down… you deserve the best of all three.
If you don’t think alllll of this is all incredibly funny… you should spend more time in front of a mirror in your birthday suit. Life is either hilarious…or incredibly cruel. I prefer to think of it as amazing and try to smile and laugh every chance I can. Pick quirky over cool. Pick silly over serious. Pick weird over reserved.
We are hurtling through space on a piece of rock that is the perfect distance from a star to maintain a temperature hospitable to life. (Except Florida in the summertime.)
among the lush and sprawling ecosystems of that living planet are creatures so crazy it makes CGI look silly. (I’m kidding. But after people were gushing about the Planet in the Avatar movie I felt like I had to respond to every one of them “well, have you looked around EARTH!?”)
And at the end of one of the branches on this Planet’s tree of life resulted in a conscious, hairless monkey.
That monkey body is – at all times- fighting off bacterial and viral attempts to overtake it’s cells.
That monkey body is able to perceive and experience a TEENY slice of the visual and auditory spectrum…but my goodness it is amazing. Add on top of that all the other monkeys who have been creating and recording MUSIC for us to enjoy!? MUSIC! Don’t get me started.
And then atop this monkey body is a monkey brain that has the awesome gift of receiving the input from this incredible world.
And if all that wasn’t enough… from someplace science has yet to understand, we have a consciousness that allows us to ponder and think ABOUT those sensations and experiences of the world.
Now, if you aren’t careful, this can all get away from you. And all you will be able to see is the next obstacle in your path. Life will not be the fullness I just described but instead be simply, “Everything that is wrong with this day and this person and this situation. FML.”
So we need to PRACTICE those 8 things.
Wait, why isn’t “Loving” on the list. you might ask? Because Loving is the way in which you do all those things. LOVE is what you are. You express love in the ways you move, solve, help, create, listen, appreciate, laugh & even read.
And when you start walking that path, you realize that we are all in this together. And love is all there is. And then you can enjoy the obstacles when they come up, make art when you have time, and sit & listen when you don’t.
And always bring a towel.