How many times have you asked yourself this question in your life:
“What’s the meaning of life?”
It’s the same question when it comes to the core belief of positive psychology:
“What makes life most worth living?”
The classic question. Especially when we hit quarter-life crisis. Or generally, when we need to make huge decisions.
Some people just want a “happy” life. What is happiness? It’s too shallow, and too broad. I am happy when I drink whiskey. I can be happy driving Mercedes. You see, money CAN buy happiness, if you see it this way. Happiness is, after all, just an emotion as stated in the dictionary – a temporary state of mind. A feeling. Not sustainable. So what are we really after in life?
Some people think it means doing something you’re passionate about. This is a nice point to start, if there is a hobby, or whatever activities you could easily indulge in and lose track of time. However, how often do you plan to do that? Do you intend to make a living out of it, or just keep them as weekend hobbies? Both have their advantages, and you will be very lucky if you have a day job you don’t hate, that gives you certain autonomy and allows you time off so you can immerse in your hobbies during your days off. For some, that’s one level of living a worthwhile life.
On a deeper level, a worthwhile goal means a PURPOSE. Something that burns your heart every time it comes up. To me, it’s justice. It’s to improve young people’s mental health. I would burst into tears when I read related news. This purpose made me quit my corporate job. This purpose made me go through hell in order to get into the music therapy degree. You see, when the purpose, or calling, is strong enough, you execute without hesitation, without excuse and you don’t need motivation. It became natural to you. It is PART OF YOU. It is your new identity. You will do whatever it takes to get there. So I see a sense of purpose as the reason that drives me forward. It makes my life worth living.
Another way to see this is trying to reach your full potential in life. Some see life most worthwhile when they are exceptionally good at certain domains in life – whether it be extreme sports, entrepreneurship or living a nomad life. Anything “normal” people are not doing. Ultimately, they are seeking for EXCITEMENT – the common element that exists among these 3 levels. Driving a sports car excites you. Working on your hobby excites you. Helping others excites you. Jumping off a cliff excites you too.
We are all looking for excitement in life, however you define it. I get excited to try out the new cafe around the corner. I get excited to travel to a new city every month. I get excited to start my own business. Maybe – this is the answer to the question.
Whatever stage you are in now, ask yourself: do you feel excited to start the day when you wake up? Do you jump out of bed, knowing that what lies ahead will definitely be 10 times better than hitting the snooze button and staying in your dream? If you do, congratulations. You have a worthwhile goal you are pursuing. If you don’t, congratulations too – it means that there are a lot of possibilities ahead of you, waiting for you to explore. If you are willing to take the first step.
It won’t be easy.
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
― Theodore Roosevelt
The question is – are you ready for that? Do you want to make a change, have something to look forward to every single day, and experience that “burning” feeling in your heart? When you think about the meaning of life, you should be asking the better, and more specific question: what excites me?