In the end, what matters?
This question has been keeping me busy lately. Of course the answer is different for everybody and no answer is right or wrong. Today, I want to express my view on a meaningful life.
“Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it.”
I disagree. I need work to provide for my life but I don’t live to work. I think work doesn’t matter in the end. I doubt that I will lay in my deathbed and think: “I was such a good employee!” If I would quit my job, there would be a replacement who might be even better than me. I think that there is barely any job where a person is definitely irreplaceable. Yes, you might be an expert but that doesn’t mean that if you die, the job will die with you and nobody will become an expert after you… That’s why work isn’t meaningful.
“What do you want a meaning for? Life is a desire, not a meaning.” Charlie Chaplin
Are we just driven by our instincts? Reproduce and live just for the sake of living?
Cleaning the house, bureaucracy, holding a grudge against someone, being dissatisfied with my looks, those are all meaningless. Looking back at my life I will not say: “My house was always so tidy. I was always on time. I mowed the lawn every week. I brushed my teeth 4 times a day. I was good at being mad at people. ” That’s why I aim for the minimum requirement/time for all these things. It’s a waste of time you could use for meaningful things.
What doesn’t matter in the end is worrying. I’m sure that one day I will regret wasting so much time on worrying. But hopefully I will also say that I needed this phase in my life to become the person I (will maybe) become.
But what is meaningful?
“There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.” Thornton Wilder
Love. Love yourself. Be content. Be you in every situation. Be true to yourself. After all, you were born as you and will never be someone else and will never have somebody else’s life.
Love others. Be kind to people. Don’t judge people, they might even have it worse than you. Be there for people and love them the way they are.
It is not wasted. If you love mowing the lawn, it has meaning for you. If a clean house is important to you, cleaning it every day is not wasted for you. For some people it is meaningful to jump on the “healthy lifestyle” bandwagon to optimize your body. In this case, spending your freetime in the gym and saying goodbye to fast food is meaningful to you.
In the end, it’s important to focus on the meaningful things in your life. Yes, you have to do meaningless things too but at least while doing the meaningless thing you know that there is something important in your life. You realize that not 100% of your time is meaningless. And that can make a huge difference in your motivation and quality of life.
P.S.: It sounds like I don’t clean my house. I do but just if it’s dirty. I recently came across “cleaning routines” on youtube. Don’t ask me why… After all, we all end at cat videos, right? Anyways, I saw how most mums put the toys of their kids away and tidy the “play area” of the kid every evening. I ask myself why? Can a mum explain this to me? I think that is a huge waste of time and energy. The kid is going to play with the same toys the next day and will make everything messy again! Maybe some people prefer to clean everything in order to have a tidy house even if it’s just for a couple hours (while you sleep). Well, that is not meaningful to me but maybe very important for other people…
[This is a scheduled post. I’m currently on vacation and may need more time to answer your comments.]