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Meaningful Lives

Probably everyone has asked a question of the meaningfulness of life, but not everyone was able to find a clear answer. The problem is that the exact answer to this question will not give you a sense of life, because the meaning, purpose and sense of life are individual. Most people see the meaning of life in the birth of one or more children – everything depends on the will; others want to devote life to favorite work, to leave a trace in the history, accomplish something great; or in just living and enjoying life. In fact, opinions about the meaningfulness of life is much more to be opinions of people living on the earth. However, I consider finding a meaning in life going out of the dark cave to light. For me, personally, a meaningful life is a happy life and the components of happiness for me are going to be discussed in the further essay.

Timothy Eves in his work “The Cave” wrote: “What’s real is inside the cave. What’s outside is a fiction, an ideal, the way things ought to be rather than the way things are”. For me this is the essence of meaning in life – going forwards from the darkness of the cave to the ideal, unreachable point of happiness. However, for me, happiness consist of various important things. Many people strive to create a family, to buy or build a house, find a favorite activity, but due to various circumstances, not everyone is able to achieve this, and these people are trying to find another meaning life. If one is sufficiently educated person in any field, such as engineering and aircraft and one really likes aviation, there is nothing wrong in immortalizing one’s name, and dedicating life to any research into this issue. Many people do just that – sacrifice life to science, society, favorite work, for them, it is the meaning of life. Someone really wants to become famous and do something that no one else ever did; someone makes the greatest discovery or a brave feat – this is also a kind of meaning of life.

However, I am not the person who snatches stars from the sky. I can consider myself as a person, who has somehow selfish meaning of life – having stability, health, being with family and live in peace. Indeed, it is impossible not to feel pride for the people who fly above birds, swim better than fish and are stronger, faster, and tougher than others are. It is impossible not to admire the human abilities changing the world. I admire the beauty of the human voice, the ability to self-sacrifice and compassion, a desire for goodness and justice. I also consider myself as the person having these features. However, for me they are not things that make my life meaningful.

Initially, when I only started thinking about meaningfulness of life, it seemed to me that meaning of life is a single, comprehensive, big, serious and clearly understood purpose. This should be a generalization of all the small questions: why I go to school, what is the point in my present day, and in general, what future will I have, what is the goal I was born which I born with, where is my mind and thought, why they are as they are, etc. It required a magic pill to understand who I am, self-knowledge, but the direction could not find any way. All my arguments about the meaning of life ended in a deadlock and emptiness. There was even some internal panic – there was no understanding of what is waiting for me in case I continue thinking such thoughts.

My reflections on the meaning of life sometimes turned me very far, leading to a deadlock endless, circular rewinding, thoughts. Sometimes I even tried to turn the thinking process off, and live happily but it was impossible. The purpose was clear – a meaningful life, but it was not clear how to come to this, where is the soil. Besides the “you should” tool nothing was applicable. Under “you should” tool I mean such phrases as “to have a meaningful life you should: be good, do good to people, love, be a full-fledged member of society, follow the laws, etc.

Viktor Frankl once said: “To be sure, a human being is a finite thing, and his freedom is restricted. It is not freedom from conditions, but it is freedom to take a stand toward the conditions”. These words made rethink my attitude. I understood that the meaningful life is impossible to put into a single goal since after its accomplishment one tends to have nothing to live for – he lost the freedom from conditions. The meaning of life for me cannot be a single and unified thing. Our life is not limited to put such a large frame and to reduce everything to a single word or a desire and call it the meaning of life. Therefore, I decided to put the question differently, and not to call what I see my meaning of life, but only something that I aspire to and what is important to me. Accumulating my desires and wishes for life, currently, to live a meaningful life is to be able to do the following:

  • Taking care of my health and be healthy. There is nothing more important than health since without it, one cannot be happy and satisfied enough. Making a kind of pyramid of my personal needs, health is its basis. Provided I am healthy, I can go to the next, more narrow values.
  • Having a good relationship, no matter with whom. Frequently it turns out that we spend more time with those people, whom we are almost indifferent to (usually our colleagues), and less time with those who are beloved and cherished (our family, children, parents, friends). Therefore, there is a need to revise their attitude and to devote them some time, depending on their importance. This is an obvious and simple, but at the same time, radical and brilliant solution. Currently, for me people I want to spend more time with is my family. As an international student, I feel a lack of personal communication with my family and it is very important for me to stay close to them as much as I can. Good relationships also contribute to stability and peace.
  • Finding the passion in life (favorite thing, hobby, belief, etc.). Finding a favorite thing is the hardest thing to accomplish. It is a “mission” that is significantly different from the “job” or “career.” Despite the fact that almost the whole world appreciates the importance of a person depending on occupation and income, it does not mean that one has to start eagerly doing it on occasion. There is a huge probability that the favorite occupation will give an opportunity to earn enough to pay the bills. My current passion is finishing my education. I consider this a huge start for the future career. I am not the kind of person that considers a job as only a place for making money, but I think that the job should bring satisfaction. Therefore, building a solid foundation for such kind of job is important in terms of personal growth and understanding myself.
  • Growing as a person. What seemed impossible yesterday often seems possible tomorrow. A human should constantly evolve and improve standards and the edge of “impossible.” Slowly but surely, one grows as a person. By the way, getting outside the comfort zone is an important part of growth. This does not mean that I plan parachute jumping, visiting jungles or scuba diving every day. However, changes and challenges, leading to development are important part of life. For instance, studying abroad was such a step for me since it was a personal challenge for the ability to live in a different culture.
  • Making a valuable contribution to society. The more we grow and succeed, the more we are able to help others. Contributing to society, for me, does not mean being a famous scientist, or fighting for human rights or changing minds of a large number of people. Adapting to the society means changing myself, which starts a societal change. For instance, the more human being helps others and oneself, the more he/she grows as a person. The truth is that giving is living.

Although a meaningful life consists of several points: health, relationships, following the hobbies, contribution, and personal growth, it should be noted that the meaning of a meaningful life will naturally be different in each person. Nevertheless, it is preferable to add another key element: happiness. Such a vague concept consists of subtle pieces and moments of life that people often ignore or simply forget: a beautiful sunset, good dinner, breath rumble, satisfaction from a good movie, the list goes on and on. However, happiness is hidden in all of these five elements. Without health, great relationship, favorite things a human being becomes a ruin and will humbly run through the waves of life, murmuring all that surrounds.

Happiness is elusive, and in the same way, it is too far. It is here and elsewhere. People put their physical and mental health on the altar of money and recognition for the sake that happiness is simply replaced by the concept of “wealth” or “independence,” which is not a long-term retribution if to dig deeper. Happiness is always there; it is the concept that is only waiting to be recognized, to be opened, to be found.

I also always liked the freedom. I think everybody is familiar with this word, but for many, it is limited to one item. I strive to complete freedom from all. From the public opinion, imposing ideals and stereotypes that are presented as the best for human consumption, freedom of thought, speech and action. Let it seem that a modern individual has all the mentioned attributes by default; in fact, it is absolutely not the case. People present the “freedom” that the humanity has now for real when, in fact, it is only a fragile and transparent fabrication. For me a human being should always strive to complete freedom, otherwise one is going to stay with ephemeral and apparent unboundedness.

Additionally, I think that the meaning of life is to achieve the set goals and be better than others, because as soon as one reaches the goal one should have another, and when all the goals have been achieved, an individual just begins to exist. Different life stages have different goals. For instance, when the person is in kindergarten, the goal is usually to go to school faster, since schoolchildren seem to be adults.

At the elementary school goal is to show one’s best side, learning much better than the other, achieving acknowledgement and praise. In the middle school, one no longer thinks about being the best but just tries to learn about the future better and develop in different directions, to choose a profession or occupation, find one’s place. After finishing school, there is another education institution, where one again tries to be the best among your peers as you want to graduate as a high-quality specialist. Once a diploma is in one’s hands, there is a job, and one wants it to be the best, to climb up the career staircase and receive a decent wage. Nevertheless, between the stages of life, there is another goal that one cannot get out of life. During all life through people are looking for love and care, and as soon as it is found, the next step is creating a strong, happy family. Afterwards, two goals intersect, for the family to be wealthy; one needs to have a decent wage. Later it should be doubled or tripled, because soon the children are born. Then there are the grandchildren, and one starts caring about them and hoping for everything to be well, but constant problems and setting new goals leads one to reach them to the rest of the life. At the end of life, one looks back and realizes that living a meaningful life was living it with dignity to achieve the set goals.

In conclusion, it is worth mentioning that living a meaningful life is making a change, even if this change happens only in one life, even if it is one’s own. Hence, even a tiny change can bring all five abovementioned components of meaning, plus happiness, and brings sense to life. Additionally, it is important not to stop and always set new changes, new goals, and new beliefs.

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