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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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        Last Updated on April 1, 2019

        How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

        How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

        When we talk about happiness, we often think about staying happy all the time – every single day, every single minute with zero negativity. Many try to pursue this constant state of “happiness” as their ultimate goal, and avoid anything that may take it away from them.

        But, what is the meaning of this type of “happiness”?

        It’s a lot like your favorite food. The more often you have it isn’t always better. On the contrary, when you only have a chance to eat it sparingly, that’s when you really savor every bite. So is it the food itself that makes you happy, or is it how valuable it is to you when you are eating it?

        Always remember that only by experiencing sadness do we understand what it is to be happy.

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        Video Summary

        Don’t Assume Others Are Always Happy

        Most people see those who have seemingly perfect lives and assume they are happy all the time. Since childhood, we are conditioned to chase the idea of “happily-ever-after” that we see in fairytales. On social media, everyone tends to share only the best looking aspects of their lives. So, it’s very easy to have a distorted view of what “happiness” is around us.

        In reality, there is always something missing, something lacking, or something unpleasant.

        No one has a perfect life. Even the most glamorous celebrities or the richest billionaires have their own set of challenges and problems.

        When we feel negative, we’re only focusing on a small fluctuating curve. As CEO of Lifehack, I’ve had to deal with countless problems, and some of them felt like real setbacks at the time. During those moments, it really seemed like these problems would be the life or death of my company and my life goals. But, I got through them; and, weeks, months and eventually years passed with many more ups and downs.

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        You need to keep your sights on the extended curve.  Looking back now, a lot of those “really big” problems at the time now seem like only small blips in a long line of experiences. Recalling them in my mind now makes me smile!

        Stop Trying to Be Happy–Just Be

        It’s natural to want to be happy as often as possible.

        So what can we do?

        First, throw away the belief that a perfect life means happiness. Personally, I would be miserable if everything was perfect. It’s through experiencing the pains of lifelong challenges that drives us to care for others when they are experiencing similar trials. If life was perfect, you wouldn’t be able to empathize. If life was perfect, you wouldn’t grow.

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        To be truly happy, stop chasing permanent happiness.

        It sounds like a paradox. But, what I mean is to accept that there will be ups and downs throughout life. Gracefully understand that happiness is a fluctuation of positive and negative events.

        Understand the importance of gratitude. Instead of focusing on the unpleasant moment, flash back your memory to when you didn’t have something. I like to think about my career, for example. When I didn’t have a career I was passionate about, I felt lost and demotivated. I felt like everyone was figuring out their lives but me. But, when I found my purpose and started Lifehack, I was deeply happy, even before I realized I would be successful! This memory keeps me going when I hit tough spots. It takes the darkness to make us grateful for the light.

        Happiness and Sadness Exist Together

        What it all comes down to is this: your life will be filled with beautiful, happy and incredible moments–happy tears and joyous shouts and funny stories. But, your life will also be filled with rain and storms that never seem like they will pass while you’re going through them.

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        But, whether your face is warmed by the sunshine, or your heart is dampened by the rain, know that it’s all part of the ebb and flow of life.

        Treasure the happy moments and power through the sad ones. Don’t try to avoid “sad” or “negative” experiences, and blindly chase being “happy”. In the end you will achieve a true level of contentment in your life, based on meaningful experiences and achievements. Being able to create growth and meaning out of both positive and negative events — that is the true meaning of “happiness”.

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