This is a completely scientific approach. You take all your goals in life, compare them, and find the most significant among them – and here it is your meaning in life.
Also, from the point of view of science, the meaning of life in general, as a whole, is to slow down the process of the gradual disappearance of life in the universe, ideally, to stop this process altogether (the disappearance of life).
According to A. Adler, the meaning of life is possible only in communication. He drew a parallel with the word: a word that means something only for one person does not make sense at all – the word acquires meaning when it becomes part of communication when it is perceived by another person. In the same way, life acquires meaning only when it is for others.
The humanistic approach is strictly the opposite. Its founders, including Carl Rogers and the famous psychologist Viktor Frankl (the same one who went through a concentration camp and, based on his experience, developed a whole new direction in psychology – logotherapy).
They believe that each person is purely individual and lives in the world of his personal, individual experiences, and this is precisely what makes a person valuable.
He can only find the meaning of life himself, the meaning will differ from person to person, and at different stages of life, the meaning of life for one particular person will also differ, and this is normal and correct. It is the search for the meaning of life that makes us all move along the path of life, and develop as individuals.
In religious concepts, the concept of the essence and meaning of life is always associated with the image of God, since God, according to religious beliefs, created the world, and created life – therefore, it is he who endows life with essence and meaningfulness.
Judaism. He believes that the essence of life is the knowledge of God, the observance of the commandments and the fulfilment of God’s will: serving God, self-improvement (according to religious dogmas: love for one’s neighbour, the study of religious dogmas), as well as the formation of an ideal divine state.
Orthodoxy. Man is created in the image and likeness of God, therefore the meaning of his life is to become like God, to know God. The Orthodox concept of Ascension to God after death is just about this: a person becomes a part of the divine essence, a part of eternity, and to become a part of the divine after death, you need to improve yourself spiritually, mentally, physically during life.
Islam believes that the essence of life is to pass a certain test during life through the service and worship of God, to gain eternal bliss after death.
Hinduism is divided into many sects that define what suffering is and what bliss is in different ways (the main concepts of Hinduism), but the main thing that unites them is the understanding of the essence of life in achieving the highest bliss in one way or another.
Buddhism is the essence of life – in achieving nirvana, in the gradual renunciation of all desires, because it is precise because of desires that people suffer (we desire something – we do not have it – we suffer – we get what we want – we begin to desire something else ).
Confucianism is a religion aimed at maintaining a strong centralized state, therefore the essence of life, according to Confucius, is the creation of an ideal state, and for this, it is necessary to fulfil one’s duties as part of society and improve oneself, obey elders, think first of all about others, and not about oneself.
Taoism believes that the meaning of life is in the knowledge of Tao. And to know Tao (very simple and primitive terms, then Tao is the essence of all things, a certain substance from which everything appeared and into which everything will return), you need to follow your nature and do only what for you naturally. The idea of action for Taoism is an action that you perform without thinking, impulsively, like a child who does not think about anything, but just wants to do something.
What do people think?
According to a social survey, people see the meaning of life in the following:
89% believe that the essence of life is to find true friends;
90% – to live according to conscience;
95% in maintaining good health;
95% in childcare;
94% – in starting a family.
How to find the essence of life for yourself?
I believe that a person is always guided through life by pleasure. We all strive to do what gives us joy. It happens that this process is disrupted – for example, due to low self-esteem, when we sabotage ourselves and believe that we do not deserve pleasure, do not deserve the joy of life. But normally it is like this: a person strives for pleasure, satisfaction, comfort, and joy.
Another thing is that different people get pleasure from different things.
For example, someone – from hedonistic pleasures. He likes shopping, he likes to feed himself delicious food, and he likes to show himself beautiful places.
Someone – from knowledge. A person learns new things and develops in an area of interest to him, and this brings him joy and satisfaction.
Some people take pleasure in helping others. This, by the way, is a fact proven by psychological science: we get pleasure from helping others, and this is normal.
Just in case: this does not make a person selfish (they say, if he helps to feel useful for the sake of pleasure, then this, as it were, is not considered, because he does it for himself, but it is necessary only for the sake of others). This is a normal psychological process: to feel satisfaction from feeling useful, and significant, this is natural for the human psyche.
In other words, to find your essence of life, you need to find what is important to you, and what pleases you. What can be done about this?
- If you are not feeling well now, make it better.
What it means: often people think about the essence of life when they go through difficulties: emotional, material, and life. In such a state, it is not very rational to look for a new semantic fullness of life. You are now physically unable to reason sensibly, and even more so to look for something that you like, that is important to you. Because your brain is either exhausted or in a state of stress, perceives everything new with hostility, it has no resources for joy and learning new things, and it is focused on surviving in one way or another (keep a job, build a new picture of the world, and so on).
Therefore, if you feel bad now, try to start with the following steps:
- Get yourself in order physically. Give yourself at least a couple of weeks to sleep off, eat, regularly walk yourself on the street, try to move more, show yourself an interesting movie, and let yourself listen to beautiful music. Please yourself. Let yourself recover physically.
- If possible, change the environment to a more comfortable one. Change jobs (you can not radically, for example, just change responsibilities in the company), go on vacation, if necessary, go to the country and stay alone with nature if you feel such a need.
- If necessary, change the toxic environment. If there are people nearby who belittle you, who take away more resources from you than they give you, try to communicate with them less.
In a state where you generally feel cheerful, your nervous system is calm and surrounded by people who are ready to support you, it is much easier to look for new values, right?
2. Watch what makes you happy.
To do this, it will be useful to keep a diary, note what pleased you today, fascinated you, and what activity time flew by for you unnoticed.
What would I do? Ask yourself a question: if I had a lot, a lot of money, and the question of financial self-sufficiency would not arise at all – what would I do?
4. Imagine your perfect day.
Try to present it in all detail. Where did you wake up and how? Who is next to you? How do you feel about these people? Or are there no people around at all? What are you doing? What do you feel when you do it? Note, by the way, that feelings can be different. For example, it is important for someone to feel enthusiastic while working. Someone – that he helps others. Someone – that he is a valuable specialist. Observe yourself: what feelings are most important to you?
5. Imagine the worst scenario possible.
Imagine that your life has gone downhill. Everything is terrible, so much so that it simply cannot be worse, the worst possible life. Try to note: what are you afraid of? What causes you the most rejection?
Through such an exercise, you can understand what you do not want, and what values completely contradict you.
For example, for someone the worst life will be “I am a mother of ten children, I don’t have a minute for myself, everyone exploits me like a robot delivering services to mother and wife”, but for someone, it’s strictly the opposite: “I’m lonely and unhappy, with forty cats, no children, no grandchildren, no husband, total loneliness. These are people with different values, with different essence of life.
6. Try new things.
If the current activities and meanings that fill your life do not satisfy you, try to find something new that you have never tried before. Perhaps your meaning, your essence of life lies far beyond your comfort zone. Relatively speaking: you will try to go hiking in the mountains, and you will like it so much that it will give your life new colours, new meaning. Matteo Di Iorio, Unsplash
7. Help others.
Very often it is helping others that help to find the meaning of life. Witnesses to this are people who volunteered at Lisa Alert. Often these are people who rave about it, for whom there is nothing better than wandering through the forests, and, finally, finding, and saving a human life. What do you need to know about life? You certainly don’t have to take that risk. But at least try volunteering at an animal shelter. Will you suddenly like it?
8. Analyze your strengths.
There is such a toxic attitude in society: you need to work on your weaknesses. But the truth is that everyone has weaknesses, and it is physically impossible to get rid of all weaknesses. It is much more productive not to go against your nature, but to develop what you are initially strong in, what you initially have inclinations for. Think: where could you use your strengths? Where could they be useful?
9. Think about what gives you pleasure – and what it is.
You can sit down and write out such a small table on a piece of paper. In one column you write the activity, and in the other – why you enjoy it.
These could be completely different reasons. for example, someone likes to draw because they can transfer a picture from their imagination to paper. Someone – because he likes to capture the beauty of the world around him. Some people do it because it calms them down.
Now think: where else could you get such sensations?
10. Remember that the essence of life is not necessarily global.
Everyone has their essence of life, and it can be arbitrarily small. Your meaning in life may be to help animals. Or grow flowers. Or dance. Or write poetry – even bad ones. You are not obliged to devote your life to something global, you are not obliged to help someone and devote your life to other people. You don’t owe anyone anything at all. Just for yourself, be happy. Remember this.