This is one of the most important questions you can ask yourself.
When I was 7, my friend Tim had a joke:“do you want to know the meaning of life?
And I’d say “Yea! What is it?”
And he’d respond “the meaning of life is to ask ‘what is the meaning of life?’”
Ha. Ha. Good one Tim.
At the time this endlessly recursive joke loop was amusing. Though looking back, I do think young Tim was onto something. That to pursue such a question takes you on an enlightening adventure.
Below is my 14-part answer to this question. I don’t think there is one meaning to life, but rather through living life in a certain way you become intimate with its meaning.
1. Create your own world.
Reality is a great mystery – you must create your own interpretation of how it all works, and find your own compelling story of your own place in it.
Red flag: you haven’t explored your worldview. Or you do have a worldview, but you took it unchecked from a culture, religion, or spiritual/philosophical authority figure.
Solution: write every day. Write out everything you believe to be true until you really know what you think.
2. Create deep, meaningful bonds with other humans.
As humans, we can put other beings above our own survival in the name of connection. Explore family, friendship, partnership, and connection as deeply as you can.
Red flag 1: if you got into a severe accident tomorrow, nobody would come to see you.
Red flag 2: you feel consistently lonely. Your experiences never get fully seen. Your silliness never gets fully enjoyed. Your love never gets fully felt.
Solution: prioritize your time to connect with people. Start with whoever will meet with you, and slowly work your way into a community of aligned life-homies.
3. Strive to be a better person.
Find your own personal sense of right and wrong and live by it. Cultivate your kindness, honesty, courage, humility, and other virtues.
Red flag: your actions consistently induce guilt, or a quiet knowing that you acted out of your integrity.
Solution: pay attention to your integrity. Notice how good it feels to be in alignment, and how bad it feels to be out of it.
4. Transcended your sense of self.
And from time to time say hello to the something greater. Religions and spiritual paths point to a greater unnameable mystery beyond yourself – find your own means to connect with it.
Red flag: you hold a predominant feeling of existential isolation.
Solution: try a weeklong meditation retreat, or a guided plant medicine journey.
5. Find activities that are so enjoyable, you lose track of time.
Spend as much of your time as possible doing these activities.
Red flag: Your days slink by in slow motion. The only periods of timelessness you experience are Netflix and sleep.
Solution: Take classes. No more passive entertainment until you’ve found a hobby you love.
6. Create the work that wants to be born through you.
Use your unique talents to offer your gift to the world. Suffering is real – take on responsibility to try to relieve some of it in your own way.
Red flag: you feel replaceable. Either that you aren’t contributing any positive impact, or that the positive impact you have is entirely non-creative.
Solution: Start with those around you. How can you create positive impact on your immediate circle?
7. Inquire extensively into who you uniquely are.
Understand your trauma patterns. Explore your creativity, style, and sexuality. Embrace your darkness. Learn what you like and own it. Bring your full self into every interaction and into the creation of your life at large.
Red flag 1: You don’t realize that you’ve created all the relationship dynamics in your life.
Solution: Work with a therapist to see how your patterns are writing your reality.
Red flag 2: You feel plain, uninspired, or complacent.
Solution: Go to Burning Man. Do The Artist’s Way. Go to a sex dungeon. Buy art and put it on your wall.
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8. Fully embrace that you are going to die.
You get one shot at life; hold nothing back and savor every fucking drop.
Red flag: You feel bored, complacent, or jaded.
Solution: Volunteer in hospice. Practice Buddhist death contemplation. Each time you kiss your partner, pretend like it’s the last you’ll ever share.
9. Develop mastery of your mind.
Make a habit of being kind to yourself. Fall in love with yourself – become your own best friend and have your own back. Learn to deal with your fear, rage, and grief. Skillfully dance with your suffering – be it through self-soothing, dissipation, expression, transmutation, or healing.
Red flag: You’re afraid to spend time in your own mind and body.
Solution: Develop a meditation practice, a journaling practice, and a somatic practice.
10. Appreciate, revere, and enjoy your body.
It carries you through life allows you to experience the world. It is made up of Earth – your physicality connects you to the matter of the universe. The better you treat it, the better you feel.
Red flag: You don’t eat well, sleep well, or exercise often. Your body and energy feel like a pile of trash.
Solution: You know the feeling you get when you look at a massive, ancient tree? Develop that feeling towards your body. Learn to treat it with respect and make new habits accordingly.
11. Give your trust and devotion to your intuition.
There is a silver thread in you that weaves together with the entire universe. When you heed it, your path reveals itself. Synchronicities emerge along the way like cairns to keep you on track. Live by your intuition to attune to the harmony of nature.
Red flag: You live exclusively in your head or are constantly trying to control life.
Solution: Go to an ecstatic dance to learn the messages that come through your body.
12. Discover your primary values and build your life out of them.
Figure out what you really care about. Then study goals, strategy, and manifestation to actualize your desires.
Red flag: Your life circumstances don’t match who you are inside, or you feel like you’re leading a life that isn’t your’s.
Solution: Inquire where your life doesn’t feel like a full match. Either change or drop your partial matches.
13. Open your heart as wide as possible.
Underneath all of your traumas, grudges, and hurts, there is a space of pure loving awareness. The essence of this space takes the shape of gratitude, forgiveness, kindness, and compassion.
Red flag: There’s a wall around your heart and you feel cold and closed off from others’ joy and suffering.
Solution: Focus on your own healing, and try to do or say one nice thing in every interaction.
Red flag: Life is SERIOUS.
Solution: Stop reading philosophy for a month and take improv comedy classes instead.
There ye have it!
Did any of these notes resonate for you? I’d love to know
And remember that life is found through living it, not from a distance. So get in there tiger, and suck a mouthful of marrow from the bone of life.
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