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Why Are We So Obsessed with the Meaning of Life?

Why Are We So Obsessed with the Meaning of Life?

What’s the point of living? The answer is the number 42! In all seriousness, this is the question to answer all questions. This is the deepest philosophical question in history and I am going to attempt to answer it! What is fascinating is that my answer is correct and I will explain why.

To answer this question, I explored everything from science to religion, to our internal and external reality, to logic and the unknown. Here is the path I took to find the answer to the deepest philosophical question in existence.

Understanding our perception of reality.

    “We all agree that your theory is crazy, but is it crazy enough?” – Niels Bohr

    The first thing I noticed when pondering the meaning of life was that my meaning would be different from yours. My answer would be true, yet false. Basically, our perception of reality will shape our answer to the question. So, let’s start with perception.

    Within our perception of the reality we live in, there are three components to look at: 1) Our External Reality; 2) Our Internal Reality; and 3) The Unknown. Let’s start with our External Reality.

    External Reality

    Within our External Reality, we have our culture and religion. Our culture is simply the environment for which we grew up, to include all the factors that influence us. One of the most powerful influencers is religion.

    Let me first preface with one point – I am a Christian. I came across an interesting read from a deceased British philosopher and writer Alan Watts. This will be a controversial read, yet open your mind and look for the deeper meaning.

    “What sort of claims must a person simply not make? Well, there is one – that is if anyone claims that he is God… The Christians handled Jesus by putting him on a pedestal and saying this was the only man who ever was God. Nobody else was before and nobody can be so afterwards. Put him on an altar, bow down to him, worship him, so that everything he had to say will be null and void.” – Alan Watts

    Internal Reality

    Religion is not the answer to the question (I am not saying God is not, just that religion is not), but it plays a powerful role influencing us. Let’s look now at our Internal Reality. Our External Reality impacts our Internal Reality, yet we project our External Reality from our Internal Reality. Confused? I will explain this when I discuss the Unknown.

    Within our Internal Reality, we find our desire. Within our desire, we find our intuition and purpose. Our intuition is our guide and is brought about by our desire. Our intuition will lead us to our purpose. Think of those internal feelings we have, where our gut reaction is trying to tell us something. Since the path to our meaning in life is not clear, use your intuition to guide you. Follow those “gut feelings” as they are speaking to us.

    Alan Watts provided yet another impactful read. His remarks here provide us thought provoking questions to ignite our intuition into action.

    “What do you desire? How would you really enjoy spending your life? Forget the money. If you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You will be doing things you don’t like doing, to go on living and doing things you don’t like doing; which is stupid. Better to have a short life, that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.” – Alan Watts

    So, what does this lead to? For me, this leads me to my purpose. We have a limited amount of time on this planet and I have no desire to live for the wrong reasons. I came to the realization that my purpose was staring at me every day. My purpose for living is my beautiful wife and magical daughter. I get to wake up to my purpose every morning.

    Entering the Unknown

    This leads us to the Unknown. Essentially, I had to dig deep into those things I do not know, which is 99.99% of this question! After digging deep, I came across two things that led me to my answer. Quantum Physics and Kabbalah. I came across an interesting perspective comparing these two topics. Similar to Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity is Near, Dr. Michael Laitman remarks,

    “There is a certain limit beyond which we cannot perceive. This point between the perceptible, physical world and what lies beyond our perception is the meeting point between science and Kabbalah.” [1]

    Let’s take a look at how reality is perceived from this perspective. This is where our entire world is inside us. This provides us the ability to control it by changing our internal perceptions. So, our perception of the world is completely subjective; hence, we build our own reality once we recognize that reality is a projection of our own self.[2]

    Finding the answer.

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      “You’ll never have all the answers, but your questions can get better.” – Niklas Goeke

      As a Lean Six Sigma practitioner, I always strive to improve and solve problems. After struggling with this question for a while, I decided to use one of my problem-solving tools; a simple tool we all mastered at the age of 5. I used a technique called 5-Why, where you simply ask “why” five times (or as many as needed) until you get to the root cause of the problem. I used this technique on myself and a friend. Here is how it went. [3]

      Why #1 – Jamie: So, Ben what is the meaning of life?

      Ben: The meaning of life, at least for me, is my family.

      Why #2 – Jamie: Why is your family the meaning of life for you?

      Ben: Because they are my everything.

      Why #3 – Jamie: Why are they your everything?

      Ben: Because they put meaning in my life.

      Why #4 – Jamie: Why do they put meaning in your life?

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      Ben: Because I love them.

      Why #5 – Jamie: Why do you love them?

      Ben: ???

      Ben and I were stuck on this last “Why” for a while. I had similar answers to my questions, yet we were stuck on this last one. We knew that we loved our family, we knew that they provided us meaning, but there was something else. Then I had a eureka moment. Yet again, Alan Watts came to mind. I noticed something in one of his readings I had missed. Here is what it said.

      “The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple.”

      Leave it to Alan Watts to provide a simple explanation for the deepest philosophical question in the world. So, here is our answer to the last why.

      Why #5 – Why do you love them?

      Answer (both of us): They provide us our purpose to simply live.

      My Hypothesis for “Does Meaning of Life Exist?”

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        “A thinker sees his own actions as experiments – as attempts to find out something. Success and failure are for him answers above all.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

        I now have two premises for this question. Let’s see if they are valid. Using syllogistic reasoning (or deductive reasoning) I was able to test the premises. Here is what I found.

        Premise #1: Meaning of life is to find purpose.

        Premise #2: Purpose provides us a reason to live.

        Conclusion: Therefore, the meaning of life is to simply live.

        So, here is my hypothesis… here is my answer to the question, “Does Meaning of Life Exist?”

        Hypothesis: The meaning of life is found when we understand our true reality. The true reality projects our internal reality to our external world. When we discover our purpose, we find that the meaning of life is simply just to live.

        In essence, our meaning is to remain alive. Once we find our purpose, we then have a reason to live and remain alive. This does not mean to live for other people. If we did that, what would happen to our reality if they were no longer alive? It has to be larger than that, so that your purpose and meaning never die.

        So, here is my answer to the question, “Does Meaning of Life Exist?” Yes! My meaning of life was discovered internally when I realized that I wake up to my purpose daily. Just remember, this is my reality and my answer. Yours will be different.

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        Lastly, I wanted to provide a message to the two ladies who provide my purpose – my beautiful wife Tomi and magical daughter Ella!

        “Meeting you was not the first day of the rest of my life; it was the first day of the best of my life.” – Dr. Steve Maraboli

        Reference

        [1]Michael Laitman: Kabbalah, Science and the Meaning of Life
        [2]Kabbalah Blog: Do you make these common mistakes when perceiving reality?
        [3]Adoption.com: Lean Six Sigma

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        Dr. Jamie Schwandt

        Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

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        Last Updated on August 16, 2018

        Narcissistic Personality: What Is It and How to Deal with a Narcissist?

        Narcissistic Personality: What Is It and How to Deal with a Narcissist?

        He asks you for your opinion, but only follows his own advice regardless of what you say.She loves to talk about herself, everything about her is just better than you.  When you try to share anything happy about yourself, she seriously doubts it.

        If you know someone who acts like these examples, there’s a chance they might be a narcissist.

        What is a narcissistic personality?

        Narcissism is a spectrum personality disorder which most of us have.

        In popular culture, narcissism is interpreted as a person who’s in love with themselves, more accurately, their idealized selves. Narcissists believe that they are too unique to be understood and that they are so good that they demand for admiration from others.

        Psychologist Stephen Johnson writes that,[1]

        the narcissist is someone who has buried his true self-expression in response to early injuries and replaced it with a highly developed, compensatory false self.

        The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) describes narcissistic personality as a personality disorder. It is a spectrum disorder, which means it exists on a continuum ranging from some narcissistic traits to the full-blown personality disorder.[2]

        Narcissistic Personality Disorder is not very common, but the truth is, we all have some of the narcissistic traits.

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        Traits of a narcissist:

        • They have a deep need for admiration and validation. They think they’re special and too unique to be understood.
        • They feel they are superior to other. They achieve more and know a lot more than you.
        • They do not show their vulnerabilities. They fear what others think of them and they want to remain superior in all situations.
        • They are unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others. They want to be the centre of attention and believe that showing emotions is a sign of weakness.
        • They are skilled manipulators and are emotionally abusive. They know how to make use of their charm to take advantage of others to get what they want.

        How are narcissists different from others?

        Narcissism expert and the author of Narcissism in a Nutshell, Zari Ballard, tried to answer some common questions asked by non-narcissists about what a narcissist thinks and feels from a narcissist’s perspective.[3]

        Do narcissists know they are narcissists and are they happy?

        We could really care less about how others feel. We enjoy our so called cold existence. True narcissists don’t want to change. We feel in total control of our lives using this method.

        Do narcissists know or understand right from wrong?

        Narcissists know the difference between right and wrong because they understand cause and effect. There is no “guilty conscience” giving them a clue and they are displaying the symptom of being “indifferent to social norms” while most likely presenting as ‘cold-hearted.’

        Narcissists have a very different thinking mechanism. They see things from a different perspective. Unlike non-narcissists and empaths, they don’t have much sympathy and are reluctant to show emotions to others.

        Why do people become narcissists?

        1. Narcissism is vulnerability taken to an extreme.

        The root of a narcissistic personality is a strong resistance to feeling vulnerable with anyone.[4]

        Narcissists refuse to put themselves in a position where they feel vulnerable. They fear that others will take advantage of their weaknesses, so they learn to camouflage their weaknesses by acting strong and powerful. The think showing emotions to others is a sign of weakness, so they learn to hide their emotions and act cold-hearted most of the times.

        Narcissists live in a state of anxiety because they are highly aware of their emotions and how others think of them.

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        Vulnerability aversion, is the root of a narcissistic personality.

        2. A narcissistic personality could be a result of a wounded past.

        Narcissists are desperate to seek validation constantly because they either didn’t feel worthwhile and valued in the past, or were being paid too much attention as the most precious and unique one in the world.

        Faulty or inadequate parenting, for example a lack of limit setting, is believed to be a major cause, and both permissive and authoritarian styles of parenting have been found to promote narcissistic symptoms.[5]

        Both parents who fail to see the worth in a child, and parents who spoil and give excessive praise to the child promote narcissism as the child grows. While the former ones make the child feel inferior of others and want to get more attention, the latter ones encourage an idealized-self in the child.

        How to deal with a narcissist?

        1. If someone close to you is a narcissist, embrace the differences.

        There’re different personality types and not everyone will think and act the same as you do. Instead of trying to change others, learn to accept the differences and strike a balance when you really have to communicate with them.

        2. Don’t try to change them, focus on your own needs.

        Try to understand that narcissists are resistant to change, it’s more important for you to see who they really are, instead of who you want them to be. Focus on how you feel, and what you want yourself to be.

        Embrace the fact that there’re different types of personality and the only thing you can control is your attitude and your own actions.

        3. Recognize what they do only comes from their insecurity.

        Narcissists are quite vulnerable deep inside, they question others because that’s how they can make themselves feel better.

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        When you learn that what a narcissist does to you is nothing personal, but something that comes from their insecurity, you know that sometimes they just need a certain amount of reassurance.

        This is especially important if the narcissist is someone you have to closely work with, or if they’re your family member. The right amount of reassurance can calm them down and get the tasks on hand completed.

        4. Ask them what would others think instead of what’d others feel.[6]

        Narcissists don’t feel guilty, but they care about how others think of them deep in their heart.

        Clinical psychologist Al Bernstein explains:

        There are just things, like other people’s feelings, that narcissists rarely consider. If you have their ear, don’t tell them how people might react; instead, ask probing questions. Narcissists are much more likely to act on ideas that they think they thought up themselves.

        If you have to work with a narcissist closely, focus on the facts and ideas, not the emotions.

        5. Let go of the need of getting a narcissist’s approval.

        You’re not who a narcissist says you are. Don’t let their blame game undermine your self-esteem, and don’t argue with them just to defend what you believe is right.

        There is no point arguing with a narcissist just to prove them wrong because they will not give in proving themselves right. It’s more likely that you’ll get more upset when they disagree with you in an unpleasant way.

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        Know your own worth and detach from a narcissist’s opinion on you.

        6. If a narcissist is hurting you, stay away from them.

        Remember, a healthy relationship is two-sided. It’s about mutual respect and it’s based on give and take. But any kind of relationship with a narcissist is likely to be the contrary, it’s about making the narcissist happy and constantly supporting them. A relationship like this will only weigh you down and is unhealthy for your growth.

        7. Set a boundary and always keep it.

        If you’re setting a boundary, you have to be willing to keep it. When a narcissist sees that you’re trying to take back control of your life, they will try to test your limits, it’s just their instinct to do it.

        Be prepared that your boundary will be challenged. Make your boundary clear, have all the actions needed to be taken in your mind.

        For example, if you have decided to stop communicating with them, they will likely to show up in front of you just to talk to you. Be brave enough to keep your boundary, don’t back down and get close to them again; or else they will not take your boundary seriously any more.

        8. Learn when to walk away.

        When a narcissist starts to make you feel uncomfortable and doubt about yourself, it’s time to pick yourself up and give yourself enough respect to just walk away from them.

        If you’re in love with a narcissist, you should seriously think about ending the relationship and move on for a better life. If the narcissist is your family member, you don’t have to be cruel to them, but it’s better to keep distance from them.

        Reference

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