Finding meaning in life

Musikinstrumente aus dem Vogtland

A young man who had lost his inspiration in life, went to an old and wise man and asked how he could get back his spark of life. The wise man thought for a while and then said “I know what to do, but I think it could be too difficult for you“. The young man replied that he was desperate and would do whatever the wise man suggested.

The old man then said: “For a full year, just do things that give you joy and meaning. No matter what you do, drive a car, read a book, rake the leaves, or be at your work, if it does not feel good in the moment, then stop immediately and do something else giving you joy and meaning, just right there.

The young man replied, “But this is completely impossible. No one can feel joy and meaning with everything that has to be done. There are so many boring things.” The old man said, “I told you I thought it could be too hard for you, but I do not know anything else that can help you. Now go and see if you can handle it“.

A year later, the young man returned. He walked lightly and radiated with joy, when telling how the advice had completely changed his life, and it had not been as difficult as he thought.

The old man said, “Now, when you finally found joy in life, see if you can bring joy and happiness to others in it.

The lesson from this story is of course not to chase for superficial satisfaction of your desires in a hedonistic way, or constantly following the urges of the moment. Instead, it’s about getting rid of preconceived judgments about what’s boring and meaningful. By opening the mind and focusing entirely on what is going on in the present moment, you will discover new dimensions also of everyday chores that you previously found boring and meaningless.

But the story is also about following your passion and higher purpose. Living your life with passion means that you are true to yourself. There are thousands of reasons to do things, but most of them have nothing to do with what you really want. Instead, they can be about earning money, gaining influence and status, walking in the footsteps of the parents, meeting outside expectations, sense of duty, or being led by chance.

None of these reasons are wrong or bad, but if you do not at the same time feel that what you are doing lights a fire inside you, and you do it because you really want to do that, you may be on the wrong track. When you do something with passion, you are not only focused on the goal, but you can be absorbed by the activity as such.

This blog post has been inspired by Arthur Deikman (1976). Personal freedeom.

svensk_flagga   Detta blogginlägg på svenska

Author: Karl Ekdahl

International public health leader and creativity blogger.

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