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The toughest question you've ever been asked

What’s the meaning of life?

No matter who you are, or your current set of circumstances, you’ve been asked or asked someone this question. It’s a stumper even for the most prepared. We’re going to be daring with this post and try to provide an answer to the age old question from our perspective. The challenge in doing so lies in the scope of what is being asked. It’s so broad and can mean so many different things to so many people. Each of us views the question and the resulting answer through the lens of our personal experience to this point in life. We come at the answer with our own way of thinking and this has an impact on the outcome.

In many ways, our program at Ask Yourself Why has been designed to answer this question. By urging our readers and bucket list community to focus on developing personal whys, we can be more targeted in how we achieve daily passions. Our program helps to define the unique (and often misinterpreted) difference between drive, passion, and bliss. Working to define each of these areas helps you to come one step closer to pursuing a life experience abundant with joy, love, and excitement.

Back to the question at hand. Let’s start by highlighting what life is NOT all about.

1. Money and wealth

From personal experience, we know that having money and financial freedom doesn’t produce long-term happiness and sustained joy. Sure, it can be used as a tool to achieve and experience, but if you’re only pursuing the accumulation of wealth for a larger bank account, what’s really the point? Besides, our experience suggests that having money may only increase the fear of losing it, promoting the habit of wanting more and more without any real reason for doing so. This can be a vicious cycle if you’re not awake and paying attention to the impact.

2. Prestige

For some, success is defined by what they accumulate. We (and AYW) argue that the feeling a new purchase generates is fleeting and quickly needs to be replaced with another cycle of consumerism. To us, modern economics and the recent advent of monetary stimulus to support growth is without historic precedent and potential risks are being ignored. Without getting into an economic debate, our point is this – while your central bank wants you to buy a bigger home than your neighbour, taking the bait likely doesn’t get you any closer to understanding why you were put on this earth. Avoid the need to keep up with others.

3. Being happy all the time

We think this is a fools game. Those that promote the idea should pause and reflect. How can anyone possibly be enthusiastic, smiling, and content ALL the time? They can’t. As a society we sometimes get lost in the idea that life always needs to be full of bliss. Even the most successful trip and fall, have bad days, and are grumpy.

4. Experience

In an effort to avoid tough questions about our purpose many of us pursue and seek experience. Modern social media promotes the idea of gratification from these moments existing as a result of others desiring the same moments. The cycle of work – vacation -work isn’t the long-term answer. Sure we look forward to time away, but how do you feel once you’re back in your desk chair following a few weeks on the beach? Mini-vacations just don’t do it for most.

So if all of these things prove to be fickle in helping us to support sustained joy – what’s the answer? What’s the meaning of life? Why am I here?

For many, we think the following answer is best applied:

“Your reason for being is to marry value and passion in order to increase the significance of each moment.”

Reflect on this for a moment. Re-read it for a second time. Value plus passion to increase the significance of each moment. No matter your circumstance, your job, your family situation, your financial position, your current level of happiness with life – if you are able to identify what you value and then pair it with your font of creative and expressive energy (passion) you will be walking through life with a greater sense of purpose. You will begin to express yourself more holistically in what you do rather than deferring what is most important until it is too late.

You might still be asking – “great, but I still don’t understand what you mean by passion.” “I feel most excited when I’m away from the office on vacation or experiencing an event that I really enjoy. Isn’t this my passion? “

We argue not. These questions and statements are not uncommon, but almost always demonstrate moments of bliss. Bliss is a great feeling, but can’t be sustained over the long-term. Much like your feelings of happiness, they come and go. Passion is different – it’s something that pulls at you. Most people describe moments of total and complete presence when living their passion. Nothing else matters. You are fully absorbed in the moment.

Think of the last time that you saw something really beautiful – like a sunset on the beach or a beautiful view of mountains. When you ask people to describe these moments, they often recount a memory punctuated by focus with little distraction. They experience a moment of “no mind” where thoughts are still and focused. Moments like these often provide a point of reference that helps to identify similar moments where passion is being pursued. When was the last time you were fully absorbed in doing something without distraction by anything around you? Your answer to this question likely gets you close to understand your personal passion.

Remember. Values + Passion = Meaning. Define your core values in life, pinpoint what it is that makes you feel energized and focused, and then pursue an environment that supports both.

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