Advertising
Advertising

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.

    Advertising

      “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?

      Advertising

      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?”

      Advertising

        “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.

        Advertising

        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

        More by this author

        Dr. Jamie Schwandt

        Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

        10 Hacks to Increase Your Brain IQ, Focus and Creativity 9 Game Changing Tips on How to Write Goals (and Reach Them!) Creative Brain Test: 10 Best Ways To Test Your Creative Intelligence How to Be a Maverick and Develop a Maverick Mindset Being Self Aware Is the Key to Success: How to Boost Self Awareness

        Trending in Psychology

        1 How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind 2 How to Handle Rejection and Overcome the Fear of Being Rejected 3 8 Powerful Reasons to Love Your Enemies 4 20 Things Only Parents Of Children With Dyslexia Would Understand 5 How to Find the Purpose of Life and Start Living a Fulfilling Life

        Read Next

        Advertising
        Advertising

        Published on November 28, 2018

        How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

        How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

        The woman in yoga pants sitting in a lotus position atop a rocky cliff, overlooking a valley draped in fog — this is the glamorized version of meditation you’ll come across as you search. Yet if you’re seeking meditation to calm your mind, a fantastic setting with no distractions is rarely available.

        So how to do meditation?

        The truth about meditation is it’s an everyday practice for anybody. You could be a mountain climber or you could be an accountant — either way, your home is just as good a place for meditation as any.

        Are you seeking to corral your racing thoughts and relieve a sense of unease, awkwardness, or uncertainty? Look to home meditation to cultivate a laid-back, creative, confident, and organized frame of mind. According to extensive scientific research, meditation relieves stress and anxiety, decreases blood pressure, improves sleep, and improves your ability to pay attention. [1]

        From start to finish, this article will give you quick, easy steps to follow so that you can meditate at home regularly. You’ll begin by assessing, identifying and altering things that need to change in your home environment. You’ll end by understanding the basics of meditation so that you can let yourself do what you already know how to do deep down in the hidden reality of your mind.

        You’re ready to let your mind be, and just be, in your own home — let’s begin.

        1. Find the Right Space in Your Home

        Where is your right space for meditation at home? Is it in your basement, your bedroom, your living room, or your study?

        The right space will be one with the least distractions built in to its purpose. In that case, it may be your bedroom. If you’ve set up your bedroom to be a place for sleep and only sleep, it will lend itself well to meditation.

        Advertising

        The right space will also be a reasonably spacious one. Although comfort is not your goal, you need room to sit. Choose a space that is private, spacious, and quiet. If you don’t have a space in your home like this, create one. Free it from clutter and get it ready for you to meditate there any time.

        Ultimately, your right space is one you feel comfortable meditating in, the space you can enter with no other expectations.

        2. Improve the Feng Shui in Your Home and Meditation Space

        Feng shui means “wind and water.” It’s the ancient Chinese art of placement.[2]

        Feng shui improves harmony with nature. Adherents to the principles of feng shui believe all things have energy (chi). The focus of feng shui is to send negative chi (sha) out of the space and attract positive chi (yun).

        Here’s the truth about feng shui: it’s not complicated or hard. The following will influence feng shui positively in your home and meditation space:

        • Living things, such as plants
        • Beautiful objects, such as sculptures or even a well-polished piece of driftwood
        • Mirrors in symmetrical placement with the lines in a room
        • Mellifluous sounds, such as trickling water or wind chimes
        • Furniture away from walls
        • A centerpiece, such as a small table with books or an ornate lamp on it
        • Incense or something else that smells good
        • A lack of clutter and an attention to organization that emphasizes the usefulness, purpose, and essential being of each item in your house

        Given that feng shui is connected to Taoism and Buddhism, it will complement the meditative atmosphere you want to cultivate in your home.

        3. Eliminate Pervasive Distractions That Can Harm Your Wellbeing

        In part, meditation is about accepting the existence of distractions. When you meditate, you don’t judge and assign a positive or a negative value to distractions — the ticking of a clock, an itch, the barking of a dog — you let them occur and let them dissipate like waves.

        However, in the same way that feng shui removes objects that attract negative chi, there are certain types of distractions that don’t belong in your meditative space. You must remove them.

        Advertising

        In a survey of 1,700 people who visited social media sites at least 30 times per week, 30 percent reported high levels of sleep disturbance and 25 percent presented symptoms of depression. [3]

        Those individuals who experience sleep disturbances or mental health issues due to social media are not setting boundaries between themselves and their connected devices.

        Part of learning how to meditate at home is learning how and when to set boundaries between yourself and your connected devices and social media accounts. If you need your phone for a timed meditation practice, but you normally receive social media notifications on your phone, set it on Do Not Disturb or Airplane mode during your meditation time.

        4. Flow into Meditation Through Time

        Next, set aside a time for meditation each day. It’s right to be structured and disciplined about your meditation time.

        Buddhist monks whose lives revolve around meditation are very structured and organized with their tasks each day. Structure provides the balance your being needs. Once you are meditating, your mind has no need for time. Outside of your given meditation time, you are completing tasks essential to the wellbeing of yourself and your home.

        Consider meditating as the sun rises. This is a quiet and contemplative time of the day when it is natural to set your day’s balance through meditation.

        5. Recognize the Rightness of Doing Nothing

        At home, you’re probably used to always doing something. When you do meditation at home, you are being, which is doing something and nothing simultaneously.

        Maryville University points out that successful people unplug by doing nothing. [4] Not only this, but they set the right expectations for the time during which they will do nothing.

        Advertising

        We oftentimes look forward to the future by expecting something to happen and by expecting something of ourselves. To meditate from home, look to that time and that space by expecting nothing. You will not do any chores. You will not catch up on work. You will do nothing but meditate for a certain amount of time each day.

        This might sound crazy, but in taking on meditation from home, you’re not expecting yourself to improve and become a better person. As Ram Dass put it, you are expecting yourself to be here now.

        6. Choose from the Incredible Variety of Meditative Practices

        As I outlined in my post on types of meditation, there are many different and not-so-different types of meditation from which to choose.

        Many beginners find it right to choose guided meditation, for which there are apps, videos, and audio tapes available.

        If you are not necessarily a beginner but are merely moving your meditative practice into the home, you can facilitate a practice such as Nada Yoga — sound meditation — by placing a fountain in your space or listening to ambient alpha wave music.

        If you’re used to meditating outside of your home — perhaps you are drawn to the outdoors because of the sounds of nature — a practice like Nada Yoga can help you transition into your home space.

        7. Understand You Can Meditate Any Time at Home

        What if I told you to throw out all of the tips that came before this? Sounds crazy but that is how radical mindfulness meditation really is. We don’t think of it as radical because it is now ingrained in our popular discourse.

        Mindfulness meditation does start as a sitting meditation practice. It goes like this:

        Advertising

        1. Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
        2. Focus on breathing. Inhale through your nose slowly and exhale slowly.
        3. As distracting thoughts arise, don’t judge them and don’t hang onto them. Let each thought go as you focus on breathing.
        4. Treat all physical sensations and feelings in the same way you do thoughts: register them, then let them go, returning to breathing.
        5. Extend this practice to everyday activity, remaining “in the moment” of the body’s activity with each new breath.

        As you practice mindfulness around your home, note the physical characteristics of the things in themselves. Note physical sensations: sounds, smells, textures, appearances, tastes. Stop now and then and do a body scan from head to toe, noting what each section is doing and how it’s feeling.

        Note thoughts that come and the emotions attached to them: let them go. Concentrate on the breath and the physical activities — including the details of the objects with which you’re interacting.

        You’ll notice that your home will lend itself to a meditative state when things are in order. This is where true feng shui originates. You will naturally sense how the arrangement of things affects the energy in a room.

        Clutter will disappear because mindfulness tells you to dispose of unnecessary things. Plants will bloom. Birds will make their nests in your backyard. Your home will smell pleasing and people will naturally be attracted to it and your presence.

        You’ve Reached the Beginning and the End

        Once you are able to do mindfulness meditation even as you are attending to the normal and abnormal requirements of your home, the mundane and the unusual, you are at both the beginning and the end.

        You are at the beginning because meditation never ends. Continue setting aside time each day to do sitting meditation in the space you’ve set aside. Continue practicing mindfulness as you attend to the energy of your house, your own energy, and the energy of those around you.

        You are at the end because you grasped what it means to do meditation at home: it means letting go of cares and concerns and being in your home as you attend to the right tasks. The right tasks are those necessary for being in your home.

        As you sit in your home, rise, open the door and you leave, you are calm in your mind because you are home.

        Featured photo credit: Simon Rae via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1]Healthline: 12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation
        [2]Marquette University: Feng Shui: The Wind and Water
        [3]Rutgers University: Social Media and Well-Being
        [4]Maryville University: How Successful People Unplug

        Read Next