What is Life?
There are always times in our lives when we find ourselves just staring into space, pondering why we’re here in this world. It can sometimes be frustrating because it does not seem to matter how long and hard you think about it. You are still nowhere close to a clear answer. Is there an actual answer to the question “what is life”?
Life Dictionary Definition
If you want a literal dictionary definition of life, it is the condition that differentiates plants and animals from inorganic matter. Life is the capacity for growth, functional abilities, reproduction, and continual change. Morbidly, it is the state that precedes death.
Undeniably, the dictionary definition of life is not romantic at all, which is why most people are not satisfied with this. Who would be fine with saying that their lives are just what makes them different from a rock? People believe that there is more than just being sentient that makes a person alive.
If you are not looking for the literal meaning of life, perhaps you will be more interested in looking at it from a philosophical viewpoint.
Life According to Socrates
Socrates believes that people should seek eudaimonia as the ultimate end. Eudaimonia is the state of having a healthy spirit, essentially a type of happiness. To attain eudaimonia, Socrates believes that one needs to be virtuous.
For Socrates, virtue is to do the right thing even when there is no reward in doing so. For him, it is always better to suffer from injustice than be the one to commit it.
Life According to Confucianism
According to Confucius and the Confucian religion, it is human nature to be in a constant search for education and discipline. Confucianists recognize the goal of achieving virtue through fostering strong relationships and reasoning with others, while at the same time minimizing the influences of negativity as much as possible.
Life According to Camus
Camus’ philosophical worldview revolves around the idea of the absurd. He believes that humans have an innate drive to search for meaning in anything, and where there is none, humans would create their own. However, the universe is a cold and indifferent place, and trying to find meaning will always end up with you in absurd situations and ultimately fail.
Camus says that finding a satisfying answer to the meaning of life is impossible. Any attempt at finding so will only end up in disaster. However, just because life is devoid of meaning, that does not mean that you cannot enjoy living. For Camus, the meaninglessness of life is just a background fact that you can just ignore since it will not be affecting you anyway.
If you’re left even more confused after reading about the different meanings of life, that’s a good thing. Life should be a continuous learning experience, and we should never stop doing so, while at the same time enjoying the ride.
Why are We Here?
Everyone on this planet has faced an existential crisis at least once in their lives, so you should not worry when it is your turn to think about it. Now, if this train of thought has been preventing you from getting enough sleep, you might want to read up on the philosophy of existentialism.
What is Existentialism?
Existentialism is a philosophical movement that first became active between the 19th and 20th centuries. The idea behind this school of thought is that individuals are truly free and can create their identities according to their own will.
Within the existentialism movement, 19th-century Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, wrote about the theory of the three stages of human existence. This would then become the basis of existentialism. This theory is based on humans going through three stages in life. Starting from the superficial and unethical lifestyle, toward a more spiritual and meaningful existence.
Kierkegaard’s Three Stages of Life
According to Kierkegaard, you are not supposed to find the purpose for your life. What you should do is to make it instead. You can go through all three and pick one or stay on the path you have started with originally. The three life-views are as follows:
This is the stage that all people are born into. The main motivation during this stage in life is experiencing pleasure and the pursuit of it. The pursuit of beauty and pleasure is often devoid of virtue and responsibility. This stage in life purely focuses on gaining more stuff and experiences.
However, even if you did gain a lot of things and life experiences, you will still feel disappointed in your existence. This may cause you to transition into the second stage.
In this stage, the individual has transcended the pursuit of beauty and is now starting to follow the rules of society. This is when people would focus less on their inclinations and lean more towards having obligations. Individuals start to feel responsible for themselves and other people. For instance, starting a family, owning a pet, keeping a job/career, and having mature friends.
You can look at the ethical stage as becoming subservient but without the negative connotations. You no longer believe that the world revolves around you, and you realize some principles are worth following. This is the stage where you want to do what is rational and virtuous.
According to Kierkegaard, the highest stage of life is the religious stage. Granted, Kierkegaard was a devout Christian, however, this stage does not necessarily have to be about a single religion or system of belief. It is about progressing from the previous two stages into something more profound.
For Kierkegaard, this means taking a leap of faith in a deity but this can be generalized to other things. It might involve believing in something that you cannot otherwise prove the existence of. It is sort of like being faithful towards your convictions.
The transition from the aesthetic to the ethical is about graduating from wanting particular things like material possessions, life experiences, and even relationships with other people. In the ethical stage, you are more interested in general things like building your principles, peace, and order, which could sometimes feel more like a routine.
In short, the religious stage is about giving yourself over to something higher than yourself, rather than just yourself (aesthetic) or society (ethical).
How to Live Well?
Do you believe that you are living well right now? If you notice that you still feel tired even after a complete night’s worth of sleep, then you might not be. Here are some of the things that you might want to try if you truly want to live well.
You have probably heard this a lot of times already, but eating right is the beginning of healthy living. As much as possible, eat foods from all the important food groups. It is important to have a balanced diet that contains a lot of fruits and vegetables, and they should be as fresh as possible.
Also, get your protein from lean meats and fish, and try to avoid processed meats if you can. If you will be going on a vegetarian diet, then you can rest assured knowing that there are many plant-based protein sources that are currently available.
Get Enough Sleep
Although it is fun to stay up late at night binge-watching your favorite TV series or playing video games, you should try to get to bed earlier from now on. Your body needs at least 7 hours of sleep every day to improve your energy levels and mood.
The quality of your sleep is important as well. It is best to sleep in total darkness and complete silence so you will be well-rested the following morning. You can try using a sleep eye mask and earplugs to greatly improve the quality of your sleep.
Surround Yourself with Positive People
You should spend more time with people you genuinely enjoy being with. Some people are like energy vampires who suck the positivity out of others by being overly negative all the time.
On the other hand, you should also not surround yourself with “yes men”. People need positive criticism so they can improve and grow, and you can only get them from people who genuinely want you to become much better.
Avoid News Overdose
You cannot do anything about the bad things that are happening around the world, but you do have control over how much news you consume. Since social media is usually the source of news for most people, you should limit your use of it as much as you can.
More specifically, you should not check your social media first thing in the morning. Don’t expose yourself to negative news too early as this might dictate your mood for the rest of the day.
Get Enough Exercise
If you find yourself feeling lethargic in the middle of the day, or even if simple tasks tire you out too much, you might be way out of shape. You will need at least one hour of physical exercise to increase your energy level.
Regular exercise will also build up your muscle mass and strength, which means you will be able to do your daily tasks more efficiently. Also, exercise will make your brain produce more dopamine, a brain chemical that affects your mood positively. This means you will be happier when you get enough exercise.
Do at Least One Meaningful Thing Every Day
Do you have something that you are passionate about? It could be a hobby, talent, or skill that you would like to do more often or share with others. If you have one, take some time every day to do it. This will give you something to look forward to every day.
How to Make the Best of Your Life?
Do you feel like you have been wasting your time? Does it feel like you are not living your life the way you are supposed to? This is an issue that many people struggle with every day, and unfortunately, there is no one correct answer.
Does that mean that there is no way to make the best use of your life? Not at all. Here are some of the things that you can try to make you feel like you are making the most out of your life.
Figure Out What’s Most Important to You
You are the one who will ultimately decide to enjoy spending your time, so you might as well spend it doing what you love to do. Whether it’s baking awesome cakes and pastries, growing your garden, working on cars, or taking care of your kids, enjoy what you are doing.
Concentrate on what you do best and what makes you happy. The rest will fall into place eventually. Pick the criticisms that you should listen to and don’t shut them out totally. Some criticisms are quite valid and are important to help you improve but filter out the ones meant to just hurt you.
Learn to Take Chances
Staying inside your comfort zone will only lead to discontent. If you don’t step out of your comfort zone, you will not have a chance to grow. If you feel as if you’re not happy with your status quo, you need to change it yourself. It does not need to be a radical change at once. You can start small.
For instance, if you have made a habit out of staying home every Friday night, agree to your friends’ invitation to go out for once and enjoy yourself. It will seem uncomfortable, maybe even scary at first, but you might love it in the end. You will thank yourself later because you tried something new.
Live in the Moment
It is important to learn from your past. It is also equally important to look toward the future. However, those time concepts only exist in your head. The only real thing that you can do something about is the present.
You can ground yourself in the present by practicing mindfulness. This means you need to be consciously aware of the things around you. Take note of your current headspace and why are you feeling the way you do.
Don’t Mind the Haters
No matter what you do in life, and even if you try to be kind to everyone around you, there will always be haters. People will always point out why you will fail, but will not show you what to do to succeed. Some people just love pointing out the faults of others.
If someone in your life is only bringing you down, you should distance yourself from them as much as you can. However, you need to learn how to differentiate constructive criticism from negativity. For instance, if a person shows you how to do something better, then that is constructive advice. On the other hand, if a person is particularly abrasive and not helpful at all, they are just haters.
These are only some of the many things that you can do to make the most of your life. However, keep in mind that the path you take is the same as that of the other person. Also, the change you want to achieve might not come immediately, so stick to your path and you will eventually reach your goal.