Chasing the Ultimate Meaning of Life & Happiness

       Do we really know where we are going to in life? The following lines of the song of Diana Ross entitled “Do You Know Where You’re Going To” are loaded with philosophical and sociological meanings that can challenge us to find the ultimate meaning and happiness of our life:

     “Do you know where you’re going to,

Do you like the things that life is showing you,

Where are you going to,’

Do you know?…”

Happiness Depends on Our Ultimate Life Goal

mom and baby

Photo credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We only live once in this world. As rational beings, we are creators of meaning. What makes our life meaningful would depend on our ultimate goal. The primary goal we envision for our life is what basically guides us in our daily living. Its achievement can ultimately make us happy. The quality of our happiness would fundamentally depend on this life goal. If our supreme purpose is to seek wealth, then our happiness would consist of gaining profit in our investments, increasing savings, achieving dominance in the market, creating new breakthroughs in business innovation, etc. If our ultimate purpose is to chase pleasure in food, sex, alcohol, or other forms of addictions, then our happiness will be enjoying and prolonging pleasure in our bodily senses. If our basic aim is to love God by serving others, then happiness would be spiritual consolation and the joy of serving God’s poor and underprivileged. If our aim is to change society according to our ideology or political beliefs, by fighting oppressive social structures and regimes, then our primary happiness would consist of personal joy of seeing that some of our reforms are realized in society. In short, our ultimate life goal can define the quality of our happiness.

Our view and enjoyment of happiness, however, can change through time. We are historical beings. Our ultimate life goal change as we continually search for the true meaning and value of life. That is why we hear conversion stories of people who have found their true meaning of life and change their original life goals.  St. Augustine of Hippo, for instance, was a true sinner and womanizer before his conversion to Catholicism. But after he found Christ in the Gospels as the true meaning of his life, his personal life radically changed, from being a pleasure seeker to being an avid servant of Christ and a great theologian of the Catholic Church. In his famous book, The Confessions, St. Augustine declared the basic orientation of his life: “My heart is restless until it rests in you, O Lord!”

Happiness as Cultural

People from various walks of life can have different goals and philosophies in life. Thus, one may inquire: Which ultimate goals in life are “superior” or more sublime than others?  Is serving God or humanity a superior goal and object of happiness in life than seeking pleasure, chasing wealth, fighting for social reforms or some other noble or religious purposes?

IMG_0376

Photo: “Sunset” by the author

Well, the unintended consequence of becoming human is to be born in a particular set of parents and community and to grow up in a particular culture. We neither choose where we must be born nor control how we should be brought up as a human being in society by our parents or guardians during our formative years i.e., from infanthood to early adolescence, which is said to be crucial for our personality formation. Social scientists believe that each culture is as good as the other. Thus, there is no “inferior” culture and cultural conception of what constitutes a meaningful life. Culture plays an important role in constituting one’s ultimate goal in life. If one is brought in a capitalist culture which puts more value on material prosperity rather than spiritual pursuit, he or she would more likely see the ultimate goal of his or her life in terms of material pursuit rather than in terms of service and growth in holiness. If one is born in a primitive society and culture where following tradition and communal goals supersedes personal ambitions, then the individual life goals would more likely reflect the collective goals. If one is born in a criminal sub-culture where people in the neighborhood are members of criminal syndicates and often talk of deviant techniques and criminal exploits, then expect the members of this neighborhood to pursue criminal careers and see prosperity through crime as the ultimate purpose in life. Unless there is external intervention or socialization on non-criminal or religious pursuits, individuals within this subculture could never be converted to other forms of lifestyle and non-criminal worldviews. Thus, it is crucial for individuals to think outside the box and explore other worldviews through education to go beyond the limitations of one’s sub-culture in understanding the ultimate purpose of life. Some people change their worldviews and goals in life by mere reading of books. St. Ignatius of Loyola, for example, was converted from a hedonist soldier to a spiritual mystic and founder of the Society of Jesus, the largest religious orders of priests and brothers in the Catholic Church, by accidentally reading the book of the saints while recuperating from a serious wound in a castle in Spain and asking himself: If the saints can do great things for Christ, why can’t I?

 

 

Chasing the Ultimate Meaning of Life & Happiness

       Do we really know where we are going to in life? The following lines of the song of Diana Ross entitled “Do You Know Where You’re Going To” are loaded with philosophical and sociological meanings that can challenge us to find the ultimate meaning and happiness of our life:

     “Do you know where you’re going to,

Do you like the things that life is showing you,

Where are you going to,’

Do you know?…”

Happiness Depends on Our Ultimate Life Goal

mom and baby

Photo credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We only live once in this world. As rational beings, we are creators of meaning. What makes our life meaningful would depend on our ultimate goal. The primary goal we envision for our life is what basically guides us in our daily living. Its achievement can ultimately make us happy. The quality of our happiness would fundamentally depend on this life goal. If our supreme purpose is to seek wealth, then our happiness would consist of gaining profit in our investments, increasing savings, achieving dominance in the market, creating new breakthroughs in business innovation, etc. If our ultimate purpose is to chase pleasure in food, sex, alcohol, or other forms of addictions, then our happiness will be enjoying and prolonging pleasure in our bodily senses. If our basic aim is to love God by serving others, then happiness would be spiritual consolation and the joy of serving God’s poor and underprivileged. If our aim is to change society according to our ideology or political beliefs, by fighting oppressive social structures and regimes, then our primary happiness would consist of personal joy of seeing that some of our reforms are realized in society. In short, our ultimate life goal can define the quality of our happiness.

Our view and enjoyment of happiness, however, can change through time. We are historical beings. Our ultimate life goal change as we continually search for the true meaning and value of life. That is why we hear conversion stories of people who have found their true meaning of life and change their original life goals.  St. Augustine of Hippo, for instance, was a true sinner and womanizer before his conversion to Catholicism. But after he found Christ in the Gospels as the true meaning of his life, his personal life radically changed, from being a pleasure seeker to being an avid servant of Christ and a great theologian of the Catholic Church. In his famous book, The Confessions, St. Augustine declared the basic orientation of his life: “My heart is restless until it rests in you, O Lord!”

Happiness as Cultural

People from various walks of life can have different goals and philosophies in life. Thus, one may inquire: Which ultimate goals in life are “superior” or more sublime than others?  Is serving God or humanity a superior goal and object of happiness in life than seeking pleasure, chasing wealth, fighting for social reforms or some other noble or religious purposes?

IMG_0376

Photo: “Sunset” by the author

Well, the unintended consequence of becoming human is to be born in a particular set of parents and community and to grow up in a particular culture. We neither choose where we must be born nor control how we should be brought up as a human being in society by our parents or guardians during our formative years i.e., from infanthood to early adolescence, which is said to be crucial for our personality formation. Social scientists believe that each culture is as good as the other. Thus, there is no “inferior” culture and cultural conception of what constitutes a meaningful life. Culture plays an important role in constituting one’s ultimate goal in life. If one is brought in a capitalist culture which puts more value on material prosperity rather than spiritual pursuit, he or she would more likely see the ultimate goal of his or her life in terms of material pursuit rather than in terms of service and growth in holiness. If one is born in a primitive society and culture where following tradition and communal goals supersedes personal ambitions, then the individual life goals would more likely reflect the collective goals. If one is born in a criminal sub-culture where people in the neighborhood are members of criminal syndicates and often talk of deviant techniques and criminal exploits, then expect the members of this neighborhood to pursue criminal careers and see prosperity through crime as the ultimate purpose in life. Unless there is external intervention or socialization on non-criminal or religious pursuits, individuals within this subculture could never be converted to other forms of lifestyle and non-criminal worldviews. Thus, it is crucial for individuals to think outside the box and explore other worldviews through education to go beyond the limitations of one’s sub-culture in understanding the ultimate purpose of life. Some people change their worldviews and goals in life by mere reading of books. St. Ignatius of Loyola, for example, was converted from a hedonist soldier to a spiritual mystic and founder of the Society of Jesus, the largest religious orders of priests and brothers in the Catholic Church, by accidentally reading the book of the saints while recuperating from a serious wound in a castle in Spain and asking himself: If the saints can do great things for Christ, why can’t I?

 

Memory and the Beauty of Life

moonlight4

Whenever I hear the opening lyrics of the famous Broadway song “Memory” of “Cats” I can’t help but feel nostalgic on the fleeting moments of life:

Midnight, Not a sound from the pavement, Has the moon lost her memory
She is smiling alone…

Memory, all alone in the moonlight, I can dream of the old days
Life was beautiful then, I remember the time I knew what happiness was
Let the memory live again…”

        What is past will never be repeated again. Life and time unfold swiftly. If we just follow the labyrinth and race of daily living and refuse to pause and reflect for a while to know where we are actually leading to in life and why we are doing all the things that we do, we would probably miss the true meaning and beauty of life. The Chinese billionaire and founder of the global retail giant Alibaba, Jack Ma, once said: “Life is so short. Don’t be so serious about work. Enjoy the lives.” Although a very busy man himself, Jack Ma knows that life is  more important than work, that “being is more important than doing” in life. Another saying states: “Work, but don’t forget to live!” So if we are so preoccupied with work and  worldly affairs and neglect to reflect on our life, we would miss to appreciate the nobility of living!

moonlight3

        Ultimately, what will probably linger into our mind in our dying moments are not our achievement, popularity, and recognition, but our loving memories of people whom we have touched and loved and significant events that reminded us of our ultimate life goals. What would probably make us smile as we struggle our last breath are the good old days when we felt happy that we shared our life with others and achieved our earthly purpose! Like the words of the song “Memory”, we can probably picture ourselves reminiscing the past all alone under the moonlight and re-live the memories and happiness we have felt with others during our earthly existence:

man

Memory, All alone in the moonlight, I can smile at the old days, Life was beautiful then…I remember the time I knew what happiness was, Let the memory live again…

         Indeed, life is precious and beautiful. There is always time for tasks we want to do. But there is only one lifetime to live. Let us not forget then that life is above all a state of “being” rather than “doing”. Let us transcend our earthly worries and enjoy life while the Almighty sustains it for us as His greatest gift to humankind!

Photo credits: shutterstock

Waiting One’s Turn in Life  

crossroad

The song of Diana Ross entitled “It’s My Turn” reminds us that we just have to wait for our turn to achieve what we want in life. Society has opportunity structure for us. We just have to wait for our turn. When it comes, we can be proud to say:

“…It’s my turn
To see what I can see
I hope you’ll understand
This time’s just for me

Because it’s my turn
With no apologies
I’ve given up the truth
To those I’ve tried to please

But now it’s my turn
If I don’t have all the answers
At least I know I’ll take my share of chances
Ain’t no use of holding on
When nothing stays the same….”

Yes, life is always in constant flux! It can sometimes be mean to us. It has its ups and downs. We have to wait for our turn to allow life to bring us up when we’re down. It rarely provides an opportunity for things we immediately want to address our problems. After a painful break-up, for instance, with a romantic partner, we immediately wish to find someone who is much better and loving than the person who causes us pain to stop the hurt inside our hearts. Or after being bullied by a person or group when we’re young in school, we wish to find power and support to depend  ourselves and assert our right! Or after a devastating defeat in a major contest or competition when we’re humiliated in front of a lonely crowd, we immediately want that the event could have been reversed and we be declared a sure winner!

Just Wait, Society has Opportunity Structure!

I change

But life does not work the way we want it to be. It has its own opportunity structure conditioned by social forces of society we’re living in. We just have to wait for our turn to be raised in the platform of success and public admiration! Jack Ma, one of the richest men in China and the founder of the Alibaba Group, was rejected many times by Harvard Business School for his applications. He encountered a series of failures in building his business empire but remained persistent and waited for his turn to achieve success! I also know a fine lady who underwent a series of frustrations with her former boyfriends and eventually married a decent and religious man. They are now living happily as a couple in the United States. Steve Jobs was also known for struggling to his innovative ideas became a reality. But it took years of patience and perseverance that his vision of apple became a success!

Waiting for society to give us the right opportunity does not mean being passive. While waiting, we have to do our part to prepare for the upcoming “break” society can offer us to succeed. Since society has its own opportunity structure, we have to prepare ourselves for the right “turn” society would offer us. If one is experiencing a failed relationship, he or she must do something to forget the past and move on to find the right partner in life! S/he must place himself/herself in situations which can allow him/her to interact with people who can offer him/her the right love and affection. So also with people who experience failures in business. They have to find ways and prepare for the next opportunity to come!

Waiting One’s Turn and Humility

Waiting for our turn for opportunity to favor us and accept that there are things in life that we cannot immediately change requires a virtue called humility. People who encounter a series of problems  indicates a lack of humility. Recklessness is sometimes a fruit of pride and lack of humility and acceptance that we are just a cog in a big machine called society. Humility and right timing is the key in solving one’s problem and attaining success! And when society’s opportunity structure opens up again and offer us the road to success and happiness, we can bravely say:

“…It’s my turn
To see what I can see
I hope you’ll understand
This time’s just for me

Because it’s my turn
With no apologies
I’ve given up the truth
To those I’ve tried to please…”

change ahead

 

Chasing the Ultimate Meaning of Life & Happiness

       Do we really know where we are going to in life? The following lines of the song of Diana Ross entitled “Do You Know Where You’re Going To” are loaded with philosophical and sociological meanings that can challenge us to find the ultimate meaning and happiness of our life:

     “Do you know where you’re going to,
     Do you like the things that life is showing you,
     Where are you going to,’
     Do you know?…”

Happiness Depends on Our Ultimate Life Goal

mom and baby

Photo credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We only live once in this world. As rational beings, we are creators of meaning. What makes our life meaningful would depend on our ultimate goal. The primary goal we envision for our life is what basically guides us in our daily living. Its achievement can ultimately make us happy. The quality of our happiness would fundamentally depend on this life goal. If our supreme purpose is to seek wealth, then our happiness would consist of gaining profit in our investments, increasing savings, achieving dominance in the market, creating new breakthroughs in business innovation, etc. If our ultimate purpose is to chase pleasure in food, sex, alcohol, or other forms of addictions, then our happiness will be enjoying and prolonging pleasure in our bodily senses. If our basic aim is to love God by serving others, then happiness would be spiritual consolation and the joy of serving God’s poor and underprivileged. If our aim is to change society according to our ideology or political beliefs, by fighting oppressive social structures and regimes, then our primary happiness would consist of personal joy of seeing that some of our reforms are realized in society. In short, our ultimate life goal can define the quality of our happiness.

Our view and enjoyment of happiness, however, can change through time. We are historical beings. Our ultimate life goal change as we continually search for the true meaning and value of life. That is why we hear conversion stories of people who have found their true meaning of life and change their original life goals.  St. Augustine of Hippo, for instance, was a true sinner and womanizer before his conversion to Catholicism. But after he found Christ in the Gospels as the true meaning of his life, his personal life radically changed, from being a pleasure seeker to being an avid servant of Christ and a great theologian of the Catholic Church. In his famous book, The Confessions, St. Augustine declared the basic orientation of his life: “My heart is restless until it rests in you, O Lord!”

Happiness as Cultural

People from various walks of life can have different goals and philosophies in life. Thus, one may inquire: Which ultimate goals in life are “superior” or more sublime than others?  Is serving God or humanity a superior goal and object of happiness in life than seeking pleasure, chasing wealth, fighting for social reforms or some other noble or religious purposes?

IMG_0376

Photo: “Sunset” by the author

Well, the unintended consequence of becoming human is to be born in a particular set of parents and community and to grow up in a particular culture. We neither choose where we must be born nor control how we should be brought up as a human being in society by our parents or guardians during our formative years i.e., from infanthood to early adolescence, which is said to be crucial for our personality formation. Social scientists believe that each culture is as good as the other. Thus, there is no “inferior” culture and cultural conception of what constitutes a meaningful life. Culture plays an important role in constituting one’s ultimate goal in life. If one is brought in a capitalist culture which puts more value on material prosperity rather than spiritual pursuit, he or she would more likely see the ultimate goal of his or her life in terms of material pursuit rather than in terms of service and growth in holiness. If one is born in a primitive society and culture where following tradition and communal goals supersedes personal ambitions, then the individual life goals would more likely reflect the collective goals. If one is born in a criminal sub-culture where people in the neighborhood are members of criminal syndicates and often talk of deviant techniques and criminal exploits, then expect the members of this neighborhood to pursue criminal careers and see prosperity through crime as the ultimate purpose in life. Unless there is external intervention or socialization on non-criminal or religious pursuits, individuals within this subculture could never be converted to other forms of lifestyle and non-criminal worldviews. Thus, it is crucial for individuals to think outside the box and explore other worldviews through education to go beyond the limitations of one’s sub-culture in understanding the ultimate purpose of life. Some people change their worldviews and goals in life by mere reading of books. St. Ignatius of Loyola, for example, was converted from a hedonist soldier to a spiritual mystic and founder of the Society of Jesus, the largest religious orders of priests and brothers in the Catholic Church, by accidentally reading the book of the saints while recuperating from a serious wound in a castle in Spain and asking himself: If the saints can do great things for Christ, why can’t I?