The meaning of life

What’s the meaning of life? What are we suppose to do in life? Well, I had a philosophical thought about it at 2 AM last night while trying to fall asleep (no, not a middle-age crisis and subsequent insomnia but I was just finishing up a review really late). I came up with the following diagram in my head:

The Triangle of Life

The most important thing is procreation, even if this strikes you sour for becoming “just a tool”. The survival of the species is of outmost importance. Procreation is what nature requires of you.
The second most important thing is love. Without it, relationships, understanding, emotional stability wouldn’t work. Love is what family and friends require of you.
The third most important thing is work. Work is good for the person, his/her family and the society. Social progress happens when all types of work take place. Work is what the society requires of you.

I think I have blogged about it in the past but I can’t find the URL at my old Slashdot blog. When I was 14 I asked my (only grammar-school educated) mother what’s the meaning of life. She was at my age back then and she had replied “to have children”. This morning, I called her on the phone and asked her the same thing (she of course got surprised to my question). This time she replied “to work and have fun”. People change I guess, but what they want doesn’t really mean that this is what’s important.

I personally feel that if a person does not satisfy all three rules is not a complete (or even a happy) person. I don’t satisfy all three rules (no children), but most people do and this is actually very encouraging. Monks and other religious people don’t satisfy the procreation rule (and they do that on purpose) and I personally don’t like that (read my justfication in the Bible itself).

If you want to become a better person, just follow the “triangle of life”. It won’t make you “happy” instantly (in fact the goal is not to necessarily make YOU happy) but when you are older and you look back at your life in retrospect, I bet it will fill you up with fullfilment. There is no way you had done a good work and you got paid for it, you have loved & you were loved back and you had healthy children, and not eventually find happiness and balance in this simple life. Your (eventual) happiness that comes out of this simple lifestyle is actually a byproduct, but maybe that’s enough.

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Luis wrote on October 11th, 2006 at 11:01 AM PST:

Though in general I agree with you I think that this is just a general rule that is valid for most people. Not by chance in psychological terms a person is described as “normal” or healthy when he/she can love and work successfully (or with a certain degree of success). Having children is also a fundamental part of many people’s lives, but it’s not so general as love and work.

But what about not “normal” people? Those who suffer some illness, for example. Is their life useless? Are they not complete because they don’t satisfy at least 2 of the rules (work and procreation)? Life is too rich and complex to think that we can all fit into certain general rules. Each person has its own path and the meaning of his/her life is unique and only valid for him/herself. In the end, a person is complete if he/she’s doing what her “nature” (to give it a name) requires of him/her, no matter if this includes work, love and procreation or if it includes none of them. And one is incomplete when he/she tries to deny her nature and follow path that’s not his/her own (often because his/her path is different from the usual and he/she fails/refuses to understand it – and people around him/her can’t support him/her either, since they do think that he/she should follow the usual path and not the one that’s true to his/her nature).


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Eugenia wrote on October 11th, 2006 at 11:05 AM PST:

I don’t think that these people are useless, but they are not as complete either. I am not complete either (according to the 3 rules), but I don’t think I am that useless (at least that’s what my JBQ says). ;)

If a person is completely incapacitated though and not able to fulfill any of the 3 rules and actually live life, then yes, life’s pretty useless IMHO (no offense to such people). If I was in such a position but somehow had the ability to just say 2 words that I really mean, that would be “euthanize me”. That’s just me of course.

You also talk about people having “their own path”. There is no such thing. These “paths” are second-graded targets and not main targets, even if the person thinks that these paths are their sole purpose in life. If for example a person doesn’t have any children because it might do harm in his/her acting career, this person won’t be fully happy. I wouldn’t.


memson wrote on October 11th, 2006 at 11:30 AM PST:

42

The answer to life, the universe and everything.


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Eugenia wrote on October 12th, 2006 at 7:07 AM PST:

Luis, if I had an unhealthy child I would probably pay the proper institute to take care of it. I would of course visit it very regularly (and still love it) and bring it at home sometimes and go out in the park, but I wouldn’t want it to be a part of our everyday life. It might sound cruel, but I think it would be best for all lives involved that way.

And don’t forget that I am Greek. In ancient Sparta severely-unhealthy kids were euthanized indeed. While I would never want that for my child, I would want it for ME if I was the sick person and I was able to think straight for a moment.


Luis wrote on October 12th, 2006 at 8:10 AM PST:

While I think very differently, I have to admit that at least you’re coherent (and brave) in what you say.

Well, it seems that 2500 years are not enough for Greeks to change :)


Luis wrote on October 12th, 2006 at 10:40 AM PST:

You are too practical to understand that life might have a meaning beyond those three principles you mention.

If, for example, you have a child and he’s born with the Down Syndrome, would you prefer him to be euthanized because he won’t be able to work, get married or have children? Wouldn’t you be able to understand that his life is absolutely complete as it is and it might have a deep meaning (for example, to teach you that life has a meaning beyond those 3 principles)?

About a person not having children because it damages his career, it would depend if by doing so he’s being true to his own nature or if he’s denying it. Not everyone’s path is to have children (or to work, or to have a family). My point is that while your principles apply to most people, they are not universal, and thinking they are so can lead to lack of understanding towards other people’s lives.


stormrider wrote on October 12th, 2006 at 11:53 AM PST:

yeap 42! I agree with memson.

nevertheless, a very interensting thought.


vince wrote on October 14th, 2006 at 6:05 AM PST:

I agree with what you posted.. Also consider what Gandhi said (I’m paraphrasing from memory here so this isn’t necessarily an exact quote):

“The meaning of life is to help people. But if you can’t help them, please don’t hurt them.”


Optimus wrote on October 21st, 2006 at 12:16 PM PST:

I absolutely agree with what Luis has to say.

>While I would never want that for my child, I would want it
>for ME if I was the sick person and I was able to think
>straight for a moment.

Maybe in that case, you would have a completely diferrent opinion. Your disability would result in diferrent life experiences than most people, bringing up sad memories, which would possibly form a diferrent personality, fighting in life for a unique cause like helping people similar to you, trying to teach understanding to people who were never in your position or anything else you can think. Your deviation from the average (because of a mental or physical disability or anything) would alter your path. Euthanasia could be a probable path too though. Depends on the person and how he/she has evolved.

p.s. My mind is bothered daily by thoughts like that I have no life, no girlfriend, no worth, nothing. My fears are driven by people who try to point that at me and the fact that I shouldn’t be happy. I had constructed my personal beliefs in order to react to these common beliefs in the past. I knew I was ruminating too much about all these instead of trying something, though now I know what kept me back, also I know that these thoughts make me fear and react more which would make things worse. I can’t enjoy some things in life now because I oppress myself to do them because I won’t be “normal” if I don’t. I forget to act on real-life activities because I enjoy them. I don’t enjoy them anymore because I get obsessive about them. But finally I know what’s wrong with me now and I have gathered a good piece of explanations. I know I can move on now towards my refined path. I just don’t know whether it will contain any of the three elements (maybe one or two ;) . I am still annoyed by the people who try to show me that I am not happy while I could naturally be. They make me believe it everyday :(


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