Does Life Have Meaning?
“Irrespective of how old you are, experiences that are self-defining make you happy. But as you get older, there is a real shift in what experiences you use to define
yourself.” (Mogilne and Bhattacharjee, 2014), Knowledge@Wharton. (http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/makes-happy-depends-old-think/se to define)
“An examination of emotions on 12 million personal blogs along with the results of six surveys and experiments reveal that the meaning of happiness is not fixed; instead, it shifts as people age. Whereas younger people are more likely to associate happiness with excitement, older people are more like to associate happiness with feeling peaceful. This change is driven by increased feelings of connectedness (to others and to the present moment) as one ages.”
(Cassie Mogilner, Sep Kamvar and Jennifer Aaker, No Date. Abstract, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University.
Although neither of these statements precisely address “Does Life Have Meaning?” I do believe there is a direct correlation between “Meaning” and “Happiness”. I believe a meaningful life has to have more than a modicum of happiness in it and a happy life should also have true meaning.
As I read and learn, I note that a good percentage of people appear to believe life is linear – born – live – die. Personally, I believe life is circular – born – live – die – return to the earth to become part of the greater whole. Does that give meaning to my life? Yes, I suppose it does biologically but not sure what else. But I also feel that before I died, I would have returned knowledge and experience through my life’s experiences, teaching and mentoring. I will know that each a person remembers my words with a smile, I have contributed something of meaning to life in general.
However, as of today, I really do not think I can say, yes my life has meaning or no, my life has no meaning. What I can say is, what happened yesterday, the day before, and so forth gave meaning to today because I lived and I learned. But today is not over ergo I do not know its full meaning or how that will apply to tomorrow. I do know that for me to believe I am in complete control of the meaning of my life would be extremely naïve.
“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things are connected.” Chief Seattle, Duwamish (1780 – 1866).
I can’t help but wonder which thread I am and what my responsibilities in the web are.
If I were to attempt to honestly define the meaning of my life I would say, I’ll try to get back to you after I find out where I end up when I’m dead. I don’t say this in jest because I feel I cannot define the true meaning of my life until I have fully lived it. I can say, I am trying to live a decent and honorable life but then I’m not perfect. Will my transgressions be my epitaph or will I be remembered kindly as someone who lived the only life he could. What did my living mean to others for therein lays what I would consider the true meaning of my life. Did my actions continue the circle or break it?