At the beginning of November, we change our clocks again. As the saying goes, “We fall backward.” The idea of falling backward offers us the opportunity to reflect upon our past. We’re also getting to the end of this year and approaching the beginning of a new one, which is a good excuse to look back on what 2017 has meant to us.
In recent months, the idea of what’s important to me as well as the meaning of my life has played a huge part in my own thought processes. Much of this might have to do with becoming a grandparent. When that happens, it’s a natural time to reflect upon the world from a child’s eyes. It’s also a time to ponder what the world will look like for future generations and what kind of world they’ll be living in.
Given the world’s politics and what seems like an abundance of natural disasters—from hurricanes to earthquakes to fires—as I mentioned in an early blog entry, it’s easy to enter into a state of despair and gloom. However, if we stop and focus on all the positives in the world and in our lives, thinking about what’s important to us can be a productive exercise. In doing so, we can more easily define what we call the meaning of life.
Coincidentally, a few months ago, I was asked to write an essay on this very topic. It wasn’t something I really thought about on a daily basis, but I realized that writing about the meaning of life was a good way to slow down and stop and think about what I wanted to say. It was also an opportunity to cast a spotlight on my life.
I began by making a list of everything that was meaningful to me. When I was satisfied with the list, I circled those things that were most important and began elaborating on why that was the case. While I intuitively knew what would rise to the top of the list, there was something about putting pen to paper that validated my instincts.
I realized that there are two aspects to consider when pondering the meaning of life. There’s the meaning of life to us individually and then the meaning of life for humanity, or the idea of interconnectedness. I thought about how having a higher power gives meaning to some people’s lives. While I don’t practice any type of organized religion, I do ascribe to many of the tenets of Buddhism, such as the importance of loving kindness and the idea of impermanence.
When evaluating the meaning of your life, I think you need to consider what makes you happy, as these things, situations, and people are what give your life the most meaning. In his book The World As I See It, Albert Einstein said that those who regard their life or the lives of others as meaningless are “not merely unfortunate but almost disqualified for life.” What he’s saying is that all life has meaning.
As I embarked on my personal journey toward discovering the meaning of my life, I concluded that I’m happiest when I’m writing, and also when I’m visiting with my family. I realized that it was crucial that I listen to the messages of my heart and open it fully so that the universe can feel what makes my heart sing.
No doubt, the meaning of life evolves during the aging process and might even change with the seasons, and that’s perfectly fine. What’s most important is that we’re in touch with our own meaning of life, and that our loved ones are also clear on what’s important to us so that they can help us in our quest for fulfillment.
Some questions to consider:
By truthfully answering these questions, you may find that you have a new sense of clarity and purpose as you approach each new day.
Einstein, AL (2014). The World as I See It. Create Space.