From the very first years of real sentience and cogent thought, about mid-teenage years, the meaning of life / ultimate reason you’re here question starts looming in the shadows like a 500lb gorilla. It’s such a gargantuan and daunting task when you’ve barely learnt any adult life skills, like making an omelette and trying to kiss a girl. Christ, I’d just got the hang of my Velcro shoes! The question of life’s purpose becomes all consuming, the gorilla whopping bananas at the back of your head constantly. It’s no surprise to see 60% rises in youth depression and 56% in suicides in the last twelve years, let alone the increase in number of gorilla attacks. How do you define your object of dedication for your entire life when you don’t even know what you’re actually passionate about in the first place? Well, the answer is simpler than you think: you don’t.
There are some humans that will know what they want from the off, and they are the exception. Bastards, I must add, but the exception. However, I only half envy them – the search is the fun bit! Your curiosity must lead you to dead-ends as well as paradisiacal waterholes, and may take years or decades or end up fruitless. Ultimately, this is the search to find things not that will change the world, but that makes you happy, and that you derive purpose and enjoyment from.
Holocaust-survivor and psychologist Viktor Frankl believed that it was the search for the meaning of your life that was the meaning of life. Not only that, it was changeable depending on the period of your life. Why be wed to some ideal for the rest of your days when you change and evolve as a human being? Better to identify the meaning of your current time in your life, and adapt.
Socrates said ‘know thyself’, which is a simpler version of learning about you: what you enjoy; what you dislike; but accepting them both. Whilst being compassionate to others is important, being compassionate to yourself is imperative. To expand on Socrates, once you know thyself you need to also love thyself. You are not perfect and never will be, but this is what defines you: a unique, never seen before, never to be repeated, 13.8 billion years in the making, human being. You’re a pretty special individual. So, start today by loving yourself like your life depends on it. Then make some tea, relax, and enjoy the search to finding out what makes you happy, what gives you purpose, knowing that it’s the journey that counts, not the ending.
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