Stop. Close your eyes and think: What’s the meaning of your life?
So, what did you come up with? Nothing right? Yeah! That’s exactly what I felt a few months ago. I was preparing for an interview when it hit me. I asked myself this question over and over again trying to get an answer out of me. What is our purpose in this universe?
So I asked my family and friends and they responded just as I had. How come? The problem was that none of us ever stopped to think about these kinds of meta-questions. We couldn’t see the forest for the trees.
So let’s try an experiment! Think about any action you did today. It could be as mundane as getting the groceries or as exciting as driving a Tesla. Ask yourself why you did that task.
Then ask why again. And again. And again.
Keep doing this over and over and you’ll always reach the same result: I’m doing what I’m doing because I think it will make me happy and successful.
Bingo! That’s the underlying motive of life! To be happy and successful. It’d be great to have those two things, but they aren’t enough. We’re missing meaning! So how can we achieve both happiness and success while having meaning in our lives? That’s where Aristotle comes in.
“Happiness does not consist in pastimes and amusements but in virtuous activities” — Aristotle
Aristotle is one of the legendary ancient Greek philosophers. Born in 385 BCE, he was taught by another famous Greek philosopher, Plato. Together they built their theory of the meaning of life.
Aristotle believed that happiness, meaning and success came from something called Eudaimonia. Eudaimonia is often translated to happiness or well being. But these emotions are considered incorrect. It’s more of a state of being rather than an emotion.
Alright, so what is it? Eudaimonia is the state of constantly working and pushing yourself to become the best version of yourself. You must confront challenges and resolve them. You must do work that is intellectually stimulating to yield well-earned success.
Being in the state of Eudaimonia won’t give you a state of constant pleasure. It’ll be difficult and there’ll be times where you want to give up. But that’s the fun of it! If everything were handed to you, there would never be a chance to learn and grow.
You’ve actually experienced a tiny touch of Eudaimonia before! You know that feeling when you sink into your bed after a day’s worth of exhausting but meaningful work? That’s what Eudaimonia feels like! Now multiply this for every single day of your life and you will surely find happiness, success and meaning!
Wait a sec, working all my life? Yup, that’s right! But working refers to working on yourself and the things that you love. In fact, I don’t think “working” is the right word… How about “building”?
Building Your Tower 🔨
“Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves” — Genesis 11:4
The Tower Metaphor. You are the builder. Your effect on this world is the tower. In order to grow your tower, you must work hard to constantly construct and reinforce it. But if you become lazy and do nothing, your tower will cease to grow and begin to weaken.
The day you die, is the day your tower loses its builder. With no one to maintain the tower, it will slowly crumble and deteriorate. How long it remains standing depends on how well you built it. If you accomplish much in your life then you will build a strong and beautiful tower that can last for millenniums. But if you waste your life and end up doing nothing, your tower will crumble along with your legacy.
Back to Eudaimonia 😄
Great! Now you’re motivated to start improving yourself! But where can you improve yourself and how?
The answer to where lies within. Meditate on these questions: “Where am I weakest? What can I fix within myself to make my life better? What does my life need more of?” Really think about these questions for a few minutes and write down everything you think of.
Here’s an additional list of areas to meditate on:
The subconscious mind has many things hidden from conscious view. It’s only until we focus our minds on particular things that they pop up! Alright, now that we know where to build we also have to know how.
Some answers are obvious. Getting more reading in your life means starting a habit of reading 10 minutes per day. Seems easy enough! But what about other, more complex problems like developing healthy mindsets of having high standards or unconventional thinking? How about getting a though understanding of deep neural networks or improve your writing?
The path to obtaining the answers to these more complex “where” questions become hazy. But fear not, for there are resources to light the way!
As a continuation of the metaphor, different towers start off in different regions. Some regions are rich with resources like forests and quarries. Other regions are not so lucky, they have swamps and wastelands.
Now, if you’re reading this in a first world country, your tower has lots of resources right next to it! Think about it, you have access to all of humanity’s knowledge at your fingertips! You have hours upon hours of leisure time! You can email anyone on the internet! Use those resources and figure it out!
Most complex questions can be easily answered by the internet. Other questions can be answered by a knowledgable mentor.
The Betterment of Humankind 🌎
“We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?” — Steve Jobs
Think of yourself as a node that’s connected with 1000 other nodes. Your actions will directly affect those 1000 people. Now, each of those 1000 people will be connected with another thousand. Which means that you’re 3 degrees away from a million and 5 degrees from everyone in the world. Thus you are indirectly affecting the world through your actions.
By improving yourself through Eudaimonia, you also get the benefit of indirectly helping the world.
But there’s more!
You can directly affect millions if not billions of people using Eudaimonia! You can do this by adding humanity to your view. When developing yourself, also think of how you can help humanity. The subconscious mind will do its magic and ideas will appear.
For example: Let’s say you have an interest in business and in exponential technologies like AI and Blockchain. Then, pursue Eudaimonia through knowledge, skills and mindsets. Sooner or later an idea will pop up and you can start up a company that will go on to impact billions.
If you play your cards right and be hellbent to make success happen, success will come.
- Happiness + Success + Meaning = Fulfilling life
- Eudaimonia = becoming the best version of yourself
- You = builder; Your effect = tower
- Focus, and problems will be seen. Search, and answers will be found
- You can make the world a better place through Eudaimonia