The meaning of life

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Lately I have been spending my late night wind down time searching the internet, reading blogs from writers I follow. It’s great to experience different perspectives from time to time, to make sure that I have a broad understanding on how others view the world. It broadens the mindset, allows me to develop empathy and it’s entertaining.

As I was reading, I found a blog from a popular writer I follow about the topic of happiness and finding meaning in what we do. The post seemed a little self-indulgent for my liking. Knowing the background of this writer, the complaint about being stressed and having too many media appearances to attend to, kind of struck a nerve in me.

I am not immune from complaining either, don’t get me wrong. However, I do try to keep perspective on other people’s life experience. Living in a wealthy suburb experiencing stress because you are busy, running your own business and making lots of money, is hard. I get it, take time out, re-evaluate your values, ask yourself has monetary gain taken over your perspective?  But we (this includes me as well) in middle class Western society have to get real.

We do have a good life, we have everything we need to cover our basic needs to live. We have food, a roof over our head, community, friendships and education. Some people don’t have these basic necessities.

We have all of this, but we in western society get bored with the simple pleasures and look for external more entertaining rewards, then we complain we need to find ourselves and find happiness. 

I agree temporary happiness can occur from external pleasures, but this is short lived. Money is short lived, and as we can see from the above example may be a cause of more stress than happiness. However, you make that decision to live that type of life and follow those values.  We need to Realise that stress and other negative emotions like sadness, anger, loneliness is a natural part of human experience.

We can’t be happy all the time, that’s just life.

I would argue that without negative emotions we can’t fully experience positive emotions. Life has highs and lows. A recent psychology book I am reading now about relationships called The Science of Trust by John Gottman talks about a state of neutralness when it comes to discussing problems within a relationship. Neutral attitudes towards each other are safer for longer lasting relationships that super positive or super negative ones.

I believe this is true to when we talk about life too. We can’t be happy or sad all the time, very polar ends of emotional experience. If we searching for ultimate happiness all the time (perfection) it’s never going to happen and it may be detrimental to our personal development. Maybe what we need to search for is neutralness and take pleasure in more day-to-day things.

This brings me to the topic of mindfulness.Mindfulness is all about paying attention to life now, in the present and appreciating the beauty that is before you. Being grateful for the air your breath, that you’re a live, that you have food to eat.

You don’t have to go on an overseas holiday to find happiness. Trust me I tried! The first time I went to Europe back packing, this is exactly what I wanted to find. Unfortunately you can’t lose yourself along the way. You are with you, all the time. Unless you change your perspective, you are never going to be happy.

You’re not going to find happiness when:

1.     You reach X amount of kilos in body weight

2.     Earn X amount of dollars, so you can buy pretty things

3.     When you buy X car

4.     When you travel to X place

You may feel transient happiness when all these things happen, but momentarily. It won’t last long, because you’ll find something else you “need” or “want” to make you feel happy again.

What I have realised is although I had a good time on holiday, my most happiest moments in life are actually at home doing the simple things. Sitting and watching my dog sleep, swimming laps on a bright sun shiny day, taking a walk on a crisp winters morning and getting a hug from someone I love.

When I hear people complain, especially when they have more than most people have, it saddens me, because they have missed the point of life itself. The search to find happiness and meaning in life is within you. It’s your perspective on your life. It’s your appreciation for what you have now, not what you don’t have. Maybe it’s time to sit down, and watch your world quietly. Ask yourself what do you love about it?

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