Most worldviews agree that the time we have on this Earth is precious. Many go as far as to say that time is your most valuable asset. An asset is defined by being useful or valuable. So if time is the most valuable asset, what do you use it for to get that value out of it? Well now I just have to ask, what can be uniformly defined as value? What does a life of meaning actually look like?
Lots of questions this week, but they stem from a sincere curiosity. From my perspective, it seems that most people - I dare say - struggle with finding meaning in life. We live in an age of subjective moral reasoning, which means that everyone individually defines for themselves what is good and bad, what is right and wrong. So with more freedom available to us than ever before, wouldn’t you think we’d be more satisfied?
"If you’re living a sensually driven life right now, you’re moving towards total emptiness.”¹
Is there a uniform right and wrong when it comes to living a life of meaning? It seems that we’ve found some pieces of that truth. No one wants to live a life void of true meaning. Even people with a naturalistic, scientific worldview, want meaning in some form. Paradoxically, it seems that our satisfaction in life positively correlates with having goals that have to do with putting others before us. It’s interesting; it's as if when we lose our lives, we find it.
I believe one form of meaning is found within genuine encounters with people. You can’t have intimate relationships without genuineness. A necessary ingredient when it comes to relationships is having the grace to allow one another the freedom of genuine expression. The difficulty lies in that sometimes we need the maturity to listen when it’s something we don’t want to hear.
There’s a really powerful video circulating online, where Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski talks about love². He describes the way we currently love as selfish. We often fail to genuinely love the other person; we just love the feeling the person gives us. When the person fails to meet our needs, we feel wronged and violated. Sadly, this means that we focus on our needs before anyone else’s. That’s not love for the other. That’s love for oneself. We constantly try to find our own sensual fulfilment - maybe that’s why we’re so empty.
It is selfishness that kills intimacy and meaning. Its rise has given birth to more still-born relationships than ever before in human history. It disperses the safety of expression necessary within an intimate relationship. What if it’s suffocation of expression itself, that breeds shallow living?
Selfishness is usually a manifestation of long-lasting pain. In a way, we need grace with ourselves before we can have it with anyone else. When a person learns to truly love who they are, their being is not phased by other people’s expression. This is because without an intimate, graceful disposition towards ourselves, it’s enormously difficult to be intimate and graceful towards other people.
So have a think. Do you allow yourself to express yourself genuinely? Are you able to allow others to express themselves? This is so important, because it’s a huge factor in unlocking the door to a life of meaning where you can truly connect with others. You are irrevocably unique. Opinions are many, but know that I, and many others, think that it would be such a shame if you hid your personality from the world. You are valuable - there’s a world of meaning out there.
"Meaninglessness does not come from being weary of pain, meaninglessness ultimately comes from being weary of pleasure."
-G. K. Chesterton
1. Zacharias, Ravi, Dr. “Questions of a Man in Agony, Part 2”. RZIM. August 8, 2017. http://rzim.org/just-thinking-broadcasts/questions-of-a-man-in-agony-part-2-of-4/.
2. Twerski, Abraham, Dr. “Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski On Love.” Speech. https://www.jinsider.com