By Thamar Jones
Imagine for a second that it’s the day of your funeral. That your time on earth is over. Your loved ones are all sitting around, reminiscing about your life. What are they saying? How will you be remembered? Did you have a good life? How would we know? What constitutes a good life?
The first thing to consider is whether the value of your life is determined by you or by other people. What if everyone thinks your life was amazing, but you die miserable feeling your life was a total waste? Who’s right? And which of these two options would you prefer?
To make sure you’re making the most of your life, you might want to ask yourself some big questions, like …
Are you working toward goals you actually care about? How important are these things to you? Are you living the way you think you should?
Right now, the choices you make, the way you spend your time, these things are shaping the type of life you’ll lead. So, think about what matters. Because according to Socrates, one of the greatest philosophers and the man considered to be the father of Western Philosophy, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
According to ancient Greek Mythology, due to various transgressions he’d committed, Sisyphus was condemned by the gods to roll a boulder up a mountain. And when he reached the top, the boulder would roll back down and then Sisyphus would have to start all over again. This was the entirety of his existence. He couldn’t do anything else. It was just up and down the hill in a never-ending cycle.
Now crazy as it might sound, I want you to imagine Sisyphus happy. Existentially, each one of us basically is Sisyphus. Nothing that any of us does is inherently important, because stuff just doesn’t have any inherent meaning. We’re all just rolling boulders up hills.
But, we can choose to give meaning to what we do. After all, we decide what to value. So, when we throw ourselves into a task, it becomes filled with meaning – meaning that we give to it. Some people find this story of Sisyphus to be really depressing. Because, on the one hand, it’s kind of saying that nothing you do matters. But on the other hand, it’s saying that anything you do matters provided you choose to imbue it with value. Whether you become a doctor and save lives, be a stay at home parent and create a beautiful childhood for your kids, be an amazing best friend, volunteer your time promoting a cause you care
about, get rich, become a champion Domino player, or feed birds…
It doesn’t matter what you do. What matters is that it’s meaning-making for you. Your life is in your hands. You and only you have the power to make your life great, and only you can evaluate its greatness.
Great good can come from looking deeper, challenging the status quo, and being willing to question everything including how you live.
The great philosopher Aristotle believed that there’s a proper way to live as human beings and that we’ll only flourish by finding that path. So know your world, know yourself, and strive to govern yourself through reason. Work to be the best, most upstanding version of yourself.
By Thamar Jones