The meaning of life
A great way to pass an eternity or two in debate is to ask the question, ‘what is the meaning of life?’ Although it is a question most commonly associated with teenage years and midlife crises, it is always there in the back of our minds. And many, many, life times have indeed been spent trying to really understand the question, let alone formulate the answer.
Why do we ask such a question? Why is it so important to us that it has been the number one question since the dawn of our time as conscious human beings. Why are we here?
The answer is often dependent upon our current internal and external situation, and thus with the population of the Earth being a little over seven billion, you would probably get just over seven billion different answers. And this is exactly how it should be. But the actual problem with this question is not in finding the answer, but in how the question is asked.
Viktor Frankl pointed out that when it is put as simply as ‘What is the meaning of life?, it suggests an answer that considers an abstract solution for the whole of humanity; some sort of mission for the human race which exists beyond the world that we know. To find the true answer to this question however, we must direct it at ourselves as a unique human being – which each of us are.
The meaning of life is actually a very personal thing that adapts as we grow. As we make this journey through life, we mature and our view of the world often evolves as we ourselves change, so we surely need a meaning that changes also? Over time, your understanding of yourself, your body, your partner, your finances, your time, your everything changes. And that therefore includes your meaning of life. So when we consider what the meaning of life is, let us first define the question more accurately as: What is the meaning of life for you, right now?
When we change the emphasis from searching for some pseudo religious 'answer to everything in the universe', and remember that the universe exists for all intents and purposes as a uniquely personal experience to each of us anyway, then the question becomes a much more personal one.
But why bother asking the question at all? Do we not get up and get on with our day anyway, with the routine and all of the non-routine challenges we face throughout our life? Do we actually need a reason to live, especially in a world that increasingly appears to favour materialism, consumerism, and hedonism? As it turns out, yes we do.
Friedrich Nietzsche said “He who has a why (to live) can bear almost any how”, and it has been proven again and again. Throughout history man and womankind has beaten near impossible odds, survived the unimaginable, and shown extraordinary spirit in the face of overwhelming suffering... when there has been reason enough to do so. Conversely people have died of a broken heart, had a heart attack within a year of retiring, or simply laid down and given up if they felt they had no further reason to live.
It seems that we do indeed very much need a reason to live – and if it is not so apparent in our daily existence, it certainly becomes so during the periods when times are tough and we need to survive the challenges that life throws at us. Strangely enough - as the world evolves - this need for a meaning in life is becoming even more noticeable than it has been in the past.
And that is where you can find that something that may have appeared to be missing so far. That feeling that something is not quite aligned as it should be – that perhaps there is more to what you can be than what you are feeling now. When Bill Gates (Founder of Microsoft) and Eric Schmidt (CEO of Google) both declared publicly that “Everybody needs a coach”, they were speaking from experience, because they know that a good coach (whether a life coach or executive coach etc), can get you further, faster, and more efficiently than you may manage on your own. And why wouldn’t you want somebody there who is driven for you to succeed?
A good coach is driven to help you fully define and maximise your own personal meaning in life, to allow you to make the most of yours.