Why We Will Never Find The Meaning Of Our Lives Through Success
We spend our whole lives searching for purpose because we are not content with simply existing on Earth.
We are obsessed with philosophical Instagram quotes and pushing ourselves to achieve our dreams, all so we can ascribe some kind of "meaning" to our lives.
But, what if the meaning of life isn't to simply achieve all your dreams?
What if we are all searching for meaning where there is none? What if we are just wasting our time overthinking the unthinkable?
I, myself, was caught in the trap of success as I measured my self-worth by my achievements. I told myself the purpose of my life was to fulfill all my dreams, and only then would I find the meaning of my life.
It wasn’t until my long-term dream was derailed and my life was stripped back to nothing but the absolute basics that I realized I was chasing a meaning I wouldn't ever find.
I found myself in a life I neither pictured nor planned for, and I felt as though I was worthless because I could no longer achieve what I had once placed so much emphasis on.
In a way, life can be viewed quite simply: Each day, we wake up and spend 12 or more hours "living," and then we go back to sleep and call it a day. We continue to do that for 365 days a year, for however many years we are alive.
But for me, and many people out there, that is just simply not enough to live for.
There must be something more to life than just simply existing, and that is why we aim for the stars and place so much emphasis on our successes.
Most of us spend our time studying, working and planning for a greater tomorrow. We are so willing to sacrifice our happiness in the present for a future that may or may not happen.
We are driven by success and we always want more from our lives, just so we feel we have "something to live for."
The honest truth is many of us actually have no idea what we are doing or where we are going, and that is perfectly okay. We don’t have a plan or any set direction for the foreseeable future, and in the eyes of many, we are considered lost.
Yet, the only lost people I see are those who fail to recognize the beauty in today because they are so fixated on finding meaning in a long-term dream that isn’t guaranteed. They have direction and goals, yet they are more lost than any of us.
Why? Because while they have their eyes planted so firmly on the future, they fail to see what is already in front of them. They chase their happiness and peace, but they fail to obtain it in the present.
If we live as though we are guaranteed more tomorrows, we will only undervalue the present. And, if we expect our lives to go a certain way, we are only setting ourselves up for disappointment when things don’t go as planned.
It seems as though somewhere along the way, we all developed a fear of the unknown, as we hate surprises and are paralyzed with fear when we steer away from our set directions.
We are too afraid to naturally see where life takes us because the unknown is far too confronting.
What we fail to recognize is that in life, we can’t plan our next moves or foresee what will happen next. Even those with complex, structured plans for their entire lives still get lost; it is inevitable.
And while you are all trying to find meaning in something that has no meaning, you will only self-destruct the precious time you have left on this Earth.
Sure, it's all well and good to have a dream or something you want to achieve; we all have dreams.
After all, it gives us something to look forward to and is something to do with our time. And, if you are passionate enough about it, then that alone brings joy and fulfillment to our lives.
But, if you hope to find your entire self-worth and life’s value in the achievement itself, you will not find it. If it’s a big enough dream, it will probably take most of your life to achieve.
By the time you realize the meaning you were hoping to find is not there, you will have wished you placed as much emphasis on the journey as you did on the end result.
After all, life is just like a roller coaster; there are ups and downs, steep declines and sharp twists and turns. There will be times when you will be afraid, times when you will be joyful and times when you will wish it would be over already.
But, we have a choice: We can only live for the ups, or we can just enjoy the ride.
The truth is, every day won't be a great day, but every day won't be a bad day, either. There will be average days, boring days and days when you have to put in some hard work.
There will be things in your life you will never completely get over, transgressions you may never fully forgive yourself for and people you will never stop missing.
But, we didn’t evolve on this Earth to be constantly content with who or where we are. We aren't meant to be permanently happy, permanently sad or permanently anything.
This chase for constant happiness and constant fulfillment in our lives is something we will simply never find. Happiness isn’t something we can magically obtain, and the more we think about it, the more it goes away.
But instead, we can try to bring happiness to others and we can invest in our relationships and our passions.
Then, we might just catch some along the way.
At the end of your life, you will realize your successes and your achievements were only a very small portion of your life — not the entire reason for your being.
You will find the most meaning in your relationships, in your passions, in picking yourself up after you’ve fallen and in identifying your beliefs, morals and most importantly, your privileges.