Category Archives: Philosophy

The meaning of life

I read some time ago about the meaning of life. I can’t remember if it was in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey or Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl or both. Anyway, I found what I read useful and I’d like to share the idea.

“What is the meaning of life?” is not a question you should ask. It’s a question you should answer with your life. It’s up to you to decide what your life is for and then live out that purpose.

So if you’ve ever wondered what the meaning of life is, there you go.

My current chief aim in life

I recently made a poorly-worded attempt to explain how I look at life. I don’t know that a lot of my friends/family/acquaintances really actually understand how I look at life and what I value, and I for some reason feel compelled to explain what I’m all about.

Just now I came up with what I think is a concise way to describe this “season” of my life.

I’m working to unburden myself from the need to earn an income so I can instead use my time in the most worthwhile possible ways.

The obvious unanswered question here is what are those “most worthwhile” ways for a person to spend his or her time, but I doubt anyone would argue that if you had a billion dollars, the most worthwhile possible way for you to spend your time would be for you to get a regular job somewhere. So hopefully this expression makes sense.

I’d be interested to hear any thoughts anyone has on this idea.

The wisest possible life

I think it’s a good idea to try to plan my life as opposed to taking life as it comes. And I think the best way to begin planning my life is to think about my life as a whole. What do I want to do with my life, and more importantly, what kind of person do I want to be? The question of who I want to be is actually really easy for me to answer, at least at a really high level. The answer is that I want to be the wisest possible person. This is a vague declaration, so let me explain.

My definition of wisdom

When I think about wisdom, I think about life from the top down. I think about the most important parts of life first and the wisest way to approach those things. To me the most important parts of life include health, relationships, financial comfort, virtuosity and overall happiness. And to me wisdom is to take the most direct possible path to success in each of these areas.

My approach

I read a story about a guy who took a glass jar and, in front of an audience, filled the jar with rocks and asked if it was full. They said it was. Then he poured pebbles to fill the spaces between the rocks and asked if the jar was full. Then he poured sand in the spaces between the pebbles. Then he poured water into the jar. If the guy had done it in the opposite order it wouldn’t have worked. The point to the story was that you have to put the big rocks in first.

As I approach life I try to put the big rocks in first. Physical health is a pretty big rock, certainly bigger than, say, TV. So I’ve put a good amount of time over the last five years or so toward becoming healthier. I’ve put very little time into TV in the last five years.

Default priorities

Over the course of my pursuit of the wisest possible life I’ve discovered that there exist a set of “default priorities” which don’t strike me as particularly wise. The default life is to work at a job you don’t particularly like and accumulate a bunch of debt to ensure that you won’t get off the work/spend treadmill until you’re old.

To have priorities other than the default priorities requires a certain amount of going against the grain. The world seems to be built for people who share the default priorities, and so in my endeavor to free myself of the need for paid employment, I’ve encountered a fair amount of resistance.

Obvious?

I imagine the things I’m writing here would strike most people as obvious. Maybe these ideas are obvious, but it seems to me that they’re dramatically at odds with the way most people live. I’ve lived most of my life very unwisely so far, and it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve tried to follow a smarter path.