The meaning of life is ...

Cato Hemels

Many people in the Netherlands feel occupied. And after another day of running and flying, they suddenly ask themselves questions such as: what am I doing it all for? Is this it now? What's the point of it all? Difficult questions, which everyone answers differently, depending on what someone believes in. As individuals, we have different beliefs and value other things. You can summarize this set of beliefs as your identity. And your identity determines, to a certain extent, how you look at questions of meaning.

You can see a religion as such a set of beliefs that shape your identity. For example, if you believe in Christianity, you probably see yourself as a Christian. The beliefs that belong to Christianity can provide you with an answer to meaningfulness questions. For example, when asked what the meaning of life is, Christianity answers: "The meaning of life is to love God and to discover Him in yourself and in your neighbors." The following video shows in a fun way how different religions and philosophers think about the meaning of life:

How you look at yourself - and what you believe in - is also shaped by your relationships with other people. For example, do you see yourself as the parent of a child, as someone's best friend or as an employer? Then this can answer your questions of meaning. In addition, contact with loved ones fulfills the need to belong. The need for connectedness is a critical element in people's well-being and ranks third in Maslow's pyramid of need, after food, drink and safety. 

In individualistic cultures, like ours, it is common to see yourself as a sum of characteristics, interests and qualities. For example, you identify yourself as a hockey player, influencer, vegan or fan of an artist. This vision of your own identity can also answer meaningful questions that arise for you. For example, the weekly sports training can be a reason for you to get out of bed in the morning. A catchy example of a YouTuber who completely turns his identity upside down for three months and what this does to him, can be seen here: 

Of course, there are many other factors that shape your identity and many ways you can look at yourself. And in the end everyone is unique. It doesn't matter how you identify yourself, the only important thing is that the structure of your life matches your identity. Which means, do what you find important, what makes you happy and what you are good at. This creates motivation, productivity, self-confidence, the feeling of success and the sense that life makes sense. This is also reflected in the pyramid of Maslow. 

There is no unambiguous, obvious or ready-made answer to the question of what the meaning of life is. If you enjoy reading more answers to this puzzling question, Fokke Obbema's project is highly recommended. Obbema spoke to forty people with the same question as a reason. In a way you can say that these conversations gave Obbema meaning in life. Maybe you can take a moment today to talk to someone?

Cato Hemels is an analyst at ftrprf and wrote this article for the theme Meaning

Leave a Reply