All these years, people have asked the wrong question.
As I drank my coffee this morning I had a caffeine induced epiphany.
What if we’ve had it backwards this whole time? If we reframe the question “what is the meaning of life?” and transform it into action as the statement “live life with meaning,” everything changes. Everything. Life goes from a passive question to an active statement. If we live life with meaning we create a meaningful life. Rather than seek validation outside ourselves, we make ourselves the validation.
I know philosophers have pondered this same notion for centuries, but since I am not a philosopher by trade, it came as quite a rush.
I thought, from the smallest kindness, to leading a movement toward positive change, action makes a difference on every scale. Whether it’s reading something motivational, or planting trees, action creates meaning in life.
In my experience, acknowledging gratitude is an action which creates happiness. I think about that frequently. Every morning, I practice gratitude. This action changes my daily trajectory toward the positive. Some say the pursuit of happiness is the meaning of life. Actually, happiness is a natural side effect and action itself is the impetus, either actions by you, to you, or actions you observe. Live life with meaning, acknowledge gratitude and live mindfully. Happiness is the result. Kindness and compassion are suddenly more necessary in daily life when viewed from this perspective. While they instill empathy and care, they also provide the impetus for action.
Let’s not forget love. It’s a wonderful feeling but it’s also an action. Falling in love, choosing a mate, raising children, love for humanity, animals, and nature, are all fantastic examples of actions that give life meaning. When we notice the beauty in the world, in the universe, in all its diversity, it creates not only a sense of meaning, but also a sense of awe and wonder.
Curiosity also plays a large part in meaning. It’s the cause behind all science, every great discovery and advancement mankind has achieved. Without curiosity, man would still live in caves. Meaning also arrises from creative pursuits in the thousands, such as art, music, writing, intellectual pursuits, design, architecture, etc.
I don’t think we can define a meaningful life by which actions we take. It’s an impossible task to list all the possible attributes or causes behind it. It’s as individual as the person living it. Perhaps “being” is itself an action. All life has meaning. It’s up to us to live it.
That was a damn good cup of coffee.