This post is a response to a question from one of my lovely readers. If you have a question you’d like answered or you’d like to see me write about something, feel free to leave a note in the comments below or DM me on Instagram @johnkenjack.
So you find yourself in an existential quandary. Welcome, drink it in. You ask yourself, “Does God hate me?”. “Why am even I here?”. “What the fuck is even the point of all this struggle when it all amounts to shit in the end?”.
No, God doesn’t hate you. Actually, God feels basically the same about everybody. Oh, and hell isn’t real so don’t worry about that either.
But why are you here? This is a key question, one we should ask ourselves more often. People can answer this any number of ways, but here are some of the more traditional answers.
Tradtional Answers to Life’s Oldest Question
#1 – God put me here so fuck you
K, so a lot of people basically say, “God did it, no further questions, thanks, bye”. And if you can do that, great, that’s awesome for you. Personally, I had to do all the legwork myself when it comes to my spirituality. I was never the type that could just agree wholesale with an ideology. A lot of people can just continue going along with whatever their parents told them was the truth when they were kids. If that’s not you, proceed to number two.
#2 – Nothing means anything so fuck everything
I used to be a member of this camp. I stopped believing in God when I was 13 years old or so. I hated everything. I didn’t believe in anything, and the only thing I knew for sure was that everybody else was full of shit. Now, I don’t want to shit on atheists here. There are a lot of really chill atheists out there, but when atheism is your prime belief in the world it becomes a little problematic. People have to believe in something, rather than believing in the absence of belief.
#3 – All of humanity are one, so fuck your wars and your governments and shit
So this is basically your standard hippie worldview. Fuck war, fuck the man, fuck anyone who tells you what to do. Free love and all that jazz. This philosophy goes back thousands of years to when some dudes in Asia were figuring out deep shit sitting cross-legged in caves. And their ideas still hold up, but these folks tend not to be the type to yell at you through a megaphone on college campuses so many people haven’t heard much about them.
A lot of people subscribe to one of the three ideas above. Obviously I’ve oversimplified things. I could easily spend a full post going into more detail on each one. But basically, you have your mainstream deists, who believe God made everything. Then, you have your counterculture cynics, who believe that nobody made anything. Then, you have your spiritual types, who believe that everything just is what it is.
My dear reader, who requested this article, also asked what I myself believe. Where do I find meaning in my own life?
So, I’ll go ahead and give a few details about that here.
I tend to tell people I’m Christian, because that’s easier than explaining that I choose to believe in my own faith. I believe in “God”, conceptualized as the combined consciousness of all beings. God is the common element in all our conscious minds. When we’re born, we come from that consciousness into the world. When we die, we return there.
When I came to believe what I do, I stopped being afraid of death. Which is a nice benefit of believing in God. When I was a child, when I had supposedly accepted my parents’ faith, I was absolutely terrified of death. If you truly believe the world beyond is a paradise, why should you be afraid of death? Not that I believe in paradise, either. We just go back to where we came from, and our consciousness rejoins the infinite mass of energy that is God.
Now, on to more practical matters.
When people say, “the meaning of life”, often they actually mean to say “the purpose of my life”. People who don’t know what the fuck they’re doing tend to search for some ultimate truth, when actually what they should be searching for is something to make their own life more meaningful.
This can be a lot simpler than figuring out your faith. Your own purpose can be related to your faith. Maybe you want to help people, or maybe you find meaning in your involvement with your church and your community. However, more commonly your purpose will be something mostly separate from your faith, assuming you have a faith to begin with. Again, there’s nothing wrong with not believing in anything. (Plus, I believe you still go to the same place after you die regardless of what you believe, so I’m not gonna be all judgy about that shit like a lot of Christians are who think they’re gonna be fuckin’ around with Elvis on a fluffy white cloud lookin’ down at you while a little red imp monster pokes you with a flaming trident)
First, figure out exactly what you believe. Do you believe in God? If yes, do you believe exactly the same things as everyone else in your church? If not, what do you disagree with exactly? If you believe everything in your church’s holy text, ask yourself why. It’s important to nail down exactly what you believe. Don’t just be a “Christian”, or an “agnostic”. Figure out exactly what you believe, what you don’t, and what you aren’t sure about yet. It’s OK if you don’t have a fuckin’ clue, so don’t worry if you feel a bit lost. You’ll figure it out eventually if you put in the mental effort required.
Or do some DMT/LSD/Psilocybin and you’ll figure some shit out real fast.
Next, figure out what makes your life feel meaningful. Probably, whatever it is isn’t profitable. Your first instinct might be to think about your schooling or your job, but these things are rarely all that significant. If you have your dream job, and it fills your life with meaning, well that’s great for you. But most of us don’t have that.
My dear reader asked me what gives my life meaning. What do I feel is my purpose? Well, that’s a tough question, but I’ll tell you this… When I stop writing, I immediately spiral into depression. Writing is the only thing that keeps me sane. I hate to say shit like, “writing is my purpose”, or some asinine bullshit like that. Nobody has one magic thing that they’re meant to do in life. But for me, writing keeps me on the right track, mentally.
Also I enjoy working with children, which is what I do for a living. Sometimes I can make those kids smile and they look at me with big goofy eyes and everything feels like it’s going to be OK in the world. If you can find a job that makes you feel like that sometimes, then I think that’ll be helpful for you.
For me, my job and my writing both have a common thread of meaning. With my writing, on this blog and on my other projects (one of which will be announced this summer), I sometimes feel like… If I can make a difference, however small, in just one person’s life… If I can write something that will make an impression on somebody and change their life, even for a moment… Well, I just think that’s really cool. And the same goes with teaching. Maybe most of my students won’t remember me, but I know that if I can just make one of those kids lives better, even just a little… That motivates me to keep going, to keep striving to be better. It makes me feel like there’s a reason for all the struggle.
You need to find something, some purpose, that makes dealing with all the bullshit worth the effort. You’re going to have to deal with a lot of bullshit in this life, and you need to occupy yourself with whatever it is that puts everything into perspective. Find the thing that you’ll go fucking insane without, and then focus more energy on that. If you don’t have something like that, just focus on whatever it is that makes you feel like everything’s going to be OK. Maybe you want to help people, or educate kids, or build tables, or whatever it is for you. Just focus on something bigger than yourself. Something important.
So, to summarize… Here’s the short version.
How to find the meaning of your life –
Step 1 – Figure out what you believe, spiritually or otherwise
Step 2 – Figure out what makes your life feel meaningful.
Step 3 – Focus on something bigger than yourself.
Life isn’t all that serious. It’s just a ride, so try to enjoy it while you’re here.