I want to start this book with the question that every person asks himself at some point:
What is the meaning of life?
This is how I answered this question for myself:
“The meaning of life is a to live a life full of meaning.”
One might ask: “What is that supposed to mean?” So, let’s discuss what does it mean to live a good life coming up with five theses that helped me to formulate my definition.
First, when we come to this planet, we know nothing about it. We are empty. We don’t know what are the rules of the game that everyone is playing. We neither know the universal laws that govern the world nor how to comply with them so that these laws don’t break us. We have no idea what the rules of social dynamics are and how to interact with other people.
And so, we grow and learn, and while we learn we make many mistakes. Our mistakes become our teachers. If you look at growth from this angle, there is no such thing as failure. Evidently, failure is an inherent attribute of the learning process.
Both positive and negative experiences contribute to our ability to draw sharper conclusions and grow in our predictive strength. Failures are followed up by corrections and iterations until we eventually succeed. We mature and we do so through a constant process of vanquishing obstacles and that process gives us a sense of achievement. This brings me to my first thesis: a meaningful life is a life of overcoming.
Life is a progression. We start at a point “Birth” and we finish at the point “Death”. Both of these events and what happens before the former and after the latter remain a mystery. We can neither affect nor comprehend what happens beyond these borders. The only thing we define is what happens in-between. In that sense, a single life is similar to a book confined between a front and a back cover. And that is the second thesis: a meaningful life must be a beautiful story.
I talked to people who are now “writing the last chapters of their book”. Some of them have only “a few pages left to turn over before the last full stop”. All of them are rich with life experience and all of them say as one: “In the end, there will be one thing you will measure your life with, and this is the people — those you loved and those who loved you.”
How did they judge the success of their lives in the end? They judged the quality of their lives by the quality of the relationships they had. That is where they have drawn their meaning from, and that is the thesis number three: a meaningful life is a life of quality relationships.
Many of the elders who shared their life experience have regrets about the life they lived. They made many mistakes throughout their lives. Some of the people I met lived a sinful life. Note, the word “sinful” here has no religious connotation. A “sin” is simply a deed that steals your inner peace. It is a stain on conscience, a step that led those people to a regretful finale.
So, what can we do to protect ourselves from living a life full of sins and hence regrets? The answer is that we must live a life of virtue. By choosing virtues as our core values, we can minimize the risk of doing things that we might regret later. That is the fourth thesis.
Last but not least, we come to this planet alone, we live alone and we die alone. Our time here is so short and yet we manage to fill it with tragedy and comedy, joy and sorrow. We are so emotional and fragile, yet we are tough and even heroic in the moments when it seems like all hope is lost. We are so petty and tiny yet we are abundant and generous. We don’t know if we are a mistake, a coincidence, or a result of some grand master plan. We are strange. We are People of Earth. Why are we here? We don’t know. But while we are figuring this out there is something we must internalize: we are here only temporarily.
This realization grants you a cosmopolite mind. Earth is your home. A tiny blue sphere drifting in the darkness of space and you are only a guest here. Being a respectful guest implies that you must not harm the place that became your shelter. Also, you must be considerate of other beings that happened to share this shelter with you.
Life is already quite perplexing itself, there is no need to overcomplicate it further. What we have to do is to help each other to get through it. This brings me to my final thesis: a meaningful life is a life of service to others and being a respectful guest on this planet.
Let’s wrap it up.
A meaningful life is…
- a life of overcoming challenges and undergoing personal evolution along the way;
- is a good story to tell;
- a life filled with meaningful relationships;
- a life of virtue;
- a life of service to Earth and to all living beings on it.
This is the way I see it. Later, we will be diving deep into the discussion of the meaning and all its implications, but these five are a good start. You could use these 5 theses to meditate on your own definition of a meaningful life.
Keep in mind that, the meaning of your life can never come from without. You are the only source of the meaning and the only reason behind all reasons. What’s more, there is no such thing as a search for meaning. Meaning is not something you can find. You have to create it.
The system of definitions within which you operate is your coordinate grid in life. Take 100% responsibility for the construction of your own definition of a meaningful life because it is a starting point from which you will start moving and shaping your reality manifesting your inner vision.
Next, I want to talk about values. A family is the first place where we start learning about the world so, in the following chapter, I want to share with you some of the things that I learned from mine. I believe that everyone should have awareness of those things, and I consider it big luck that I had a chance to learn them at the beginning of my journey on Earth.
Thank you for reading my book “Meditations of the Millennial”.
If you want to support me on my mission, please, share this book with someone you love. Maybe they will find what they seek on its pages.