Looking for the meaning of life

I recently read about stress-related problems of students in a DUB article, where a shocking 62 percent was cited, the proportion of students who often suffer from performance pressure. I am that type of person who likes to find out the root of things by asking the question, why? That was not different this time either. I asked the question, why do people feel frustrated on the first place? In no time I found myself looking for the answer for the purpose of life, as many have done before. As far as I know, no one has found it yet. Self-actualization, happiness, nirvana. These are all pretty neat goals and I am sure pursuing all of them. However, interpreting them strictly, they all refer to the individual. I believe even personal goals can aim for bigger impact, than our pure selfish aim to become better, nicer, faster.

Stephen Covey writes in his book, 7 habits of highly effective people, that there is a next phase after reaching personal independency and actualization: to establish interdependent relationships that result in fruitful collaboration. A good example of this is a win-win situation, where both parties benefit from working together and can use it for good. I know it sounds idealistic, what I am, and – side note - this is a useful trait for entrepreneurs who would like to improve our world for the better. Changing the entire world is probably a bit too ambitious goal, unless you possess certain privileges. But how much are we responsible for the better version of our micro and macro environment? That could be the topic of a whole other post, so I would rather further elaborate on the meaning of life.

During my pursuit to find the meaning of life I stumbled upon a very relevant stream of thought, the caveat of needs and desires. In nowadays’ consumer society many people tend to confuse their needs with their desires. Commercials and trends are constantly alluring and there is a huge race for the customer’s attention. Unfortunately many people buy them literally and figuratively. This situation is even worse in the case of students, who are just starting their career, figuring out who they are and rarely have principles they live by. They want every form of material commodities because a friend has that or because it looks so cool in that commercial and they do not want to lag behind. Above all, they think they actually need them. But those desires are not to be confused with our actual needs. Wiser people than me concluded that – according to our best knowledge - life only has some physiological meaning for every organism, including humans. Our real needs as humans are purely biological, like air, water or nutrition. Putting too much emphasis on external factors distract certain people so much that they fall into depression or become neurotic in many other ways.

While looking for the meaning of life - let it be individual, like pursuing happiness or more altruistic goals, like helping endangered animals – we shouldn’t forget the significance of our biological self. All the rest is the result of the culture and ideologies we have come across during our short existence on planet Earth.

Tags: burn-out