A Survey of Thoughts on the Meaning of Life
The British band Procol Harum devoted half their 1968 Shine on Brightly LP to a song called In Held 'Twas I. The first section, Glimpses of Nirvana, details a pilgrim's search for the meaning of life. The pilgrim seeks the answer from the Dalai Lama, and is told that he must first spend five years in contemplation. He does this, and is granted an audience with the Dalai Lama, who says, “Well my son, life is like a beanstalk, isn't it?”
That may not be the real deal, but I'm willing to accept it because I'm too busy to spend five years in contemplation. When I say I'm busy, I mean I'm working and learning, not watching Dancing With The Stars.
Live Life Now
The Algerian author and philosopher Albert Camus (1913-1960) said, “You will never live life if you are looking for the meaning of life.”
Young people often spend inordinate amounts of time fretting about why they aren't happy, and wondering about what it all means. Older people are more likely to just live life and enjoy it. One of life's ironies is that those with the least amount of time left on this Earth enjoy it more than those with the most.
Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) said, “Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened.”
You have to wonder just what some people are thinking about. It's generally not the meaning of life, nor the meaning of anything else. If your primary activities consist of sitting on the sofa and staring at the television, then you're not really living. If you spend significant amounts of time on wanton debauchery, then you're not compelled to give your life any meaning, save perhaps as an object lesson.
Others think about nothing but the meaning of life. To be more specific, they think about how they don't understand it, or don't even know what to look for. This consumes their thoughts. They never figure it out, but they spend their lives contemplating it, or worrying about it. Perhaps the Dalai Lama has a hole in his schedule for them, so they can waste his time as well as theirs.
This is It
The writer Audre Lorde (1934-1992) said, “Life is very short and what we have to do must be done in the now.”
Your life is going on right now. Some folks seem to think it's going to start in a little while, after they figure things out. At that point it will be over. I hope the undertaker puts a smile on your face before your last appointment, because that might be the only one, and it will be too late.
Certain people—you see many of them here on HubPages—are convinced that they know the meaning of life, and they are obsessed with changing the views of the rest of us who haven't experienced their revelation. These people are divided between the Christians and the atheists—those who know there is a God and those who know there is not. (The teetotalers and political types issue similar, equally vapid utterances.) They have one thing in common. They feel obliged to rant about their beliefs until the rest of us agree with them, which will never occur. They are wasting their time.
Decide to Be Happy
The poet Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) said, “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”
Someone who acts unhappy makes a decision to be that way. There are occasional days that truly warrant unhappiness. But most aren't like that. You can be happy or unhappy. It's your choice.
People choose to be unhappy about many things. Is it really worth it? Isn't happiness what life is all about?
On a basic level, even if you believe happiness is not what it's all about, you really measure your progress in life by your happiness. If you think you should devote yourself to others, then that makes you happy. If you believe in putting yourself first, then that makes you happy.
In life, happiness is the coin of the realm. Try to accumulate some.
Steve Jobs (1955-2011) said, “You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So, you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
I'm going with Jobs on this. Otherwise, I'll spend the rest of my life regretting, and I don't have time for that.