So here I am, standing on the beach, right in front of the sea. The waves are gently touching my toes and my eyes are trying to spot something in this never-ending blue abyss. What exactly? I don’t know. My mind wanders along with my eyes. Thinking about what’s the whole point of living. 5, 10, 30
So, what’s the who point of this life thing? What is the meaning of life? And why the hell finding meaning in life is so difficult?
In general, getting access to the essential things in life is fairly easy: Everyone with a regular IQ can get a decent job, earn money, get a small place to live, acquire food, obtain few pieces of clothes, and possibly a vehicle to move from one point to another.
In a way, the
But are they really enough to feed our minds? To satisfy our emotional hunger?
As you already guessed it, in this post I will explain in details what I think it is the meaning of our existence on this planet. My personal version.
I know, you’re probably tired of articles and books about meaning, life’s purpose, what should I do with my life and etc. Worry not my internet friends, I’m tired of the same things as well. That’s why it took me a while to write this piece of content. To be sure I won’t share the same things everyone else is talking about. At least I hope.
So let me help you find yourself:
The Meaning of life from a biological standpoint
Like any other species that exist in the world known to the human race, there are two default meanings for us as well:
- To Survive;
- To Replicate.
Let’s expand on those two:
For thousands of years, our ancestors were struggling with survival. The early adopters of the planet Earth were building tools, walls, weapons to protect themselves, and the tribe, from the things threatening their lives: wild animals, the climate, bacteria and microorganisms, other tribes that were looking to expand their turf.1
Life back then was hard. And I mean hard. You had to actually fight for food. Kill to eat. It was a constant struggle for survival. You never know who might sneak out of the woods. There weren’t any medicine, no antibiotics, no vaccines, no Facebook. The average life expectancy was between 15 and 30.2
Replicating, mating, the act of continuing life is deeply rooted in our DNA. That’s why there are breeding seasons for the animals. It’s a bit complicated with humans. We can breed all the time.
We’re basically designed to survive till we become capable of mating so we can continue the existence of the species.
From a biological standpoint, there is no other meaning in our life other than surviving long enough to give life
So, if that’s it, why so many people are searching for a higher meaning?
Why so many people seek for another meaning?
To answer this question we should first answer this one: What differentiates us from animals?
Even though we’re quite alike with the fellow animals: we eat, drink, have sex, look for shelter, want to feel close to others from the group, we’re also quite different.
I definitely can’t answer this question in details, if I could, I will probably write for Discovery Channel or Nasa. But what I found out after searching the entire net is this main differentiator: The main difference between humans and animals is the way we think. We, humans, have higher mental consciousness. We can think beyond what we can sense, beyond our current state. We can position ourselves in future imaginary events and think of a way to escape these situations.
I know, it sounds a bit confusing. Let me try to explain this a bit simpler: Imagine you’re sitting on your desk and you’re trying to focus on your work. Even though there are a lot of emails that require your attention you still find it hard to concentrate. It turns out that you’re hungry. So, you take a moment to think about what you’re going to eat. You consider all available options and for a brief moment you even imagine biting a juicy beef burger, your mouth waters and you start drooling. You’re going to order a burger.
Animals don’t do that. They see grass, they eat. They are full, they stop eating.
So, put simply, we have a vivid imagination. That’s the reason we currently rule the world. That’s also the reason for the huge gap between us, humans, and the fellow animals.
Let’s get back to the above question: Why so many people are searching for higher meaning?
We want to feed our emotions
As we already mentioned, we can fairly
There should be something more than just living to eat and eating to live, right? Because that’s easy, everyone can do this.
If that was everything, we would not have ever built spaceships, the Internet,
Smart people have created the above mentioned things because they wanted to change things. To improve things. To solve a problem they were facing. To give something to the human race. A tool that will help them live better.
During our livelihood on the planet, we face different obstacles. These struggles are often the spark for something creative.
Some people never ask themselves the question we’re trying to answer here (what’s the meaning of life), that’s why they often feel depressed. Those who do, however, are people who want to feed their emotions. To resolve problems they saw in the world. They question things, they seek for improvements, they want to make the world a better place, sort to say. That what drives them. That’s their meaning.
What happens when you set false meaning in your life?
A lot of times people set false meanings, which causes depression and anxiety. That’s what I did a couple of years ago.
When I was 18, my main concern was with girls. I thought that I was never going to find the right girl. That’s why I was going out non-stop. Once I finally met Her, I moved to my next goal: Earning enough money and buying an apartment. A place to live.
Real estate in my country (as probably everywhere in the world) is really expensive and I thought that when I have enough money to purchase a place to live I will be finally satisfied. That was my ultimate goal in life. My meaning back then.
A few years later, I found a job that was paying enough, I saved for a couple of years and I become an owner of a beautiful apartment. At the age of 28, my goal was complete. For a few months, I was extremely happy. “I’ve done it.” That’s what I told to myself. Then, all of a sudden a new question arose: “Now what?”
Back to the drawing board.
Few years I was avoiding the answer to this question with buying things. I thought that more possessions will make things better. Well, they didn’t. They only made it worse.
That’s what happens when you try to buy yourself a meaning. It doesn’t work. It only get’s worse and depression becomes your best friend.
I decided to take a step back at some point, clear my mind and embrace minimalism.
Your Meaning shouldn’t be a material thing
Let’s say you’re a millionaire, you just won the lottery in your country. A couple of million dollars. What are you going to do with all that money?
You’ll buy a car. A big house. You’ll probably go on a cruise around the world. You’ll retire. A couple of hundreds thousand will go for clothes. You might as well learn to play golf. Why not, rich people do that.
These are the things most of the people dream about. They want the fancy car. The big house and the easy life.
But that won’t satisfy your thirst.
The new car will be old after a few years. The clothes you own will be outdated the next season. You will want more and the more you’ll get the worse will happen.
The Real, 100% genuine, Meaning in Life
So, let’s get back to the beach.
I was standing on the beach and the waves were gently touching my toes… blah, blah. I tried to make it sound fancy.
When I was just about to leave to the beach, the thing that caught my attention was the mark of my feet in the sand. I’ve seen this before. Like thousands of times. But I never thought about it this way. Then, I realized that my ultimate meaning should be leaving a mark in this world.
Of course, it should be something more durable. Something that the waves of time won’t erase so easily.
You can surely live the so-called “normal life”: get a decent job, raise a family, consume the necessary amounts of food and water to sustain your body. That’s for sure.
But if your mind, like mine, is restless. What if it wants something more than watching Netflix and eating a burrito for dinner? If it shouts to you “do something better you lazy prick”. If it searches for a higher purpose?
That doesn’t necessarily mean doing only one thing. This means being better and treating others with respect. Quality which is slowly fading away.
You can start by helping that stranger you saw on the street. Giving. Loving. Sharing your experience with others. Solving a problem that will help other people live a better life.
There are so many ways that you can leave a mark on this world and ensure that you won’t be forgotten soon.
There is something sad about understanding our real purpose though. It’s truly revealed when we die.
Our purpose is revealed after we’re dead
We’ve all read about war heroes. Engineers. Entrepreneurs. People who shaped the current world we live in. We’ve read about them in school and we continue to read about them today on Wikipedia. Imagine people like Nikola Tesla, Napoleon Bonaparte, Deil Carnegie.
These people are still alive, even though they died years ago. They still exist in our minds, in our study books.
Martin Luther King dedicated his life to the fight against racial differences. His protests, helped to raise awareness of racial inequalities in America, leading to significant political change.
His meaning was to bring balance between the races but this wasn’t complete while he was alive. The movement he started continued after his death and our current world is what it is thanks to his actions.
Leonardo da Vinci is one of the world’s greatest thinkers, artists and philosophers. He created unique masterpieces during the time he was alive. Some of them are: “The Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper”.5 His work continues to inspire people around the world even today. More than 500 years after his death. He’s considered to be a key person in the birth of the European Renaissance.
As you can see, these people had hopes and had dreams. They wanted to leave something behind. And they did. People continue to talk and write about them. Their actions, art, words, continue to travel through time long after their final moment. They left their mark.
When we die we cease to have a direct impact on others. We’re a pile of bones. However, our actions during our alive time can still influence others. Hopefully, the later will be something positive.
So all in all, the inescapable purpose of life is to strive for a lasting impact on the world we live in. To aim for something that it will outlive you. Something that generations to come will benefit from. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something big, it can be something small as well. A book. A letter. A painting.
Our legacy is what remains after our death and our purposes should be leaving something behind.
Having said that, think about what are you going to leave when you’re gone: A pile of flesh and bones, or a lasting impact on the world.
“Whoever destroys a single life is as guilty as though he had destroyed the entire world; and whoever rescues a single life earns as much merit as though he had rescued the entire world.” Neil Strauss
Cover photo by Genevieve Dallaire.
- Well, microorganisms have been discovered at a much later stage in our history but it also something that was killing a lot of humans.
- Anthropologist Rachel Caspari, and her team, were examining Neanderthal dental records and they established that 130,000 years ago, ‘no-one survived past 30’, which was the age at which they would have become grandparents.
- You can read more on the subject, here.
- Also that God doesn’t exist. Well, except in our minds.
- You can see the two paintings here, and here. I actually never understood why people admire The Mona Lisa painting so much.