The Purpose Of Life
So, what is your life’s purpose? Let’s start by dealing with the common question, what is the meaning of life? This question seems to be asking for a definition of life but could also be asking many other things. This question is very vague. I don’t believe it can be answered (because it doesn’t make sense) and therefore should not be asked. Further, if there is an answer I don’t believe it would be very useful. When people talk about the “meaning of life” or ask “what is the meaning of life” they are usually looking for an answer to the question, “what is the purpose of life?” Therefore we will discard any discussion of the “meaning of life” and replace it with a discussion of the “purpose of life”.
Why is it so important that we find an answer (not necessarily “the” answer but an answer) to the question, what is the purpose of life? It is because we all have a fundamental desire to know that we are doing what we should be doing and a fear of waking up one day and discovering that we should have been doing something different with our lives. It is to mitigate regrets. The purpose of this book is to try to find an answer to the question, what is the purpose of life? Or at the very least, learn where to look for the answer. Many people think that this question cannot be answered or that any proposed answer will be inadequate. Even if that was true it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try. In fact, after reading this book you may find that the answer to this enormous question is in fact in the “trying” – otherwise known as the journey.
It makes sense to commence our search for the purpose of life by observing our universe in order to determine what it has been hardwired to do (it’s difficult to imagine that the purpose of life is to do something that we cannot do).
The universe is one giant system (I will refer to it as the ultimate system or Nature) that is made up of smaller component systems (planets, humans, animals, the environment, etc). These smaller component systems play two concurrent roles. One of them is to survive and the other is to contribute to the ultimate system. However these roles are the same in the sense that surviving and thriving is the contribution to the ultimate system. The obvious example is that a byproduct of plants surviving is the generation of oxygen and animals (including humans) use this oxygen to survive and make their own contributions to the ultimate system. Every component system is playing a role in the ultimate system and contributing to the ultimate system. In some cases, such as humans consuming the oxygen generated by plants, the relationship between components is direct but in the vast majority of cases the relationship is very indirect. The obvious conclusion to draw from this is that we are all part of one system and each part of the system relies on every other part of the system. Although some people use the expression “we are all one” in a philosophical way in order to create a warm and fuzzy feeling, the more important fact of the matter is that it is the literal truth.
If these components really do rely on each other then, logically, the universe / ultimate system has been designed in a way where its components get rewarded when they make a positive contribution to the ultimate system. In the case of humans, the reward we receive is happiness. For example, if you do something that has a positive impact on another human, animal, environment, etc you have been designed to feel good about yourself (you are rewarded with happiness). If this is true, we can also conclude that doing things that have the largest positive impact on another human, animal, environment, etc will result in being rewarded with the largest amount of happiness. Therefore, for the sake of spelling it out, you need to do the things that will have the maximum positive impact (“MPI”) on the ultimate system in order to extract as much happiness as possible out of life. However, as we mentioned in the introduction, living in a way that has the maximum positive impact on the ultimate system requires you to be the best version of yourself that you can be. Therefore you also need to live in a way that has the maximum positive impact on yourself in order to become the person that is capable of having the maximum positive impact on the ultimate system. Therefore, living in a way that results in MPI on yourself and the ultimate system are all one and the same and this is the MPI philosophy.
Our life’s purpose is the pursuit of the happiness and we will get it when we help nature and humanity to flourish. This is the “big picture” starting point. As we progress through this book we will drill down into more and more detail until we reach a point where you can start using the tools at iimagine.org to plan out your day and understand how everything from the most mundane activities to the most significant events fit together and enable you to have the biggest positive impact on yourself and on the planet.
Now let’s go even deeper into our understanding of how happiness really works day to day. Again, we will look to nature for clues. There are three concepts that occur in nature and permeate our lives that are very helpful when trying to analyze and understand how happiness works. (I am presenting these as general concepts and not necessarily the specific scientific theories that are generally associated with them). I call them the “REC” concepts. They are Relativity, Equilibrium and Cycles.
Next article in this series: “The Purpose Of Life – Relativity”