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

        5 Proven Memorization Techniques to Make the Most of Your Memory 10 Best Brain Power Supplements That Will Supercharge Your Mind How to Upgrade Your Critical Thinking Skills and Make Smart Choices How to Reprogram Your Brain Like a Computer And Hack Your Habits 10 Hacks to Increase Your Brain IQ, Focus and Creativity

        Trending in Psychology

        1 How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing 2 How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy 3 The Desire to Be Liked Will End You up Feeling More Rejected 4 Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering 5 How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

        Read Next

        Advertising
        Advertising
        Advertising

        Last Updated on May 7, 2019

        How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

        How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

        Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

        The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

        The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

        Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

        People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

        Advertising

          They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

          Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

            Advertising

              1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
              2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
              3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
              4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
              5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

              How to Spot a Wolf

                Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

                Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

                A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

                A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

                Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

                Advertising

                Ask Questions, the More the Better

                There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

                When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

                Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

                They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

                Advertising

                Wolves Are Everywhere

                As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

                Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

                Reference

                [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
                [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

                Read Next