I’ve come to what I think is a conclusion now about the meaning of life. In the previous article I talked about the meaning of life for the individual. Often times we come to our own conclusion about the meaning of life for us personally.
Whatever you come up with for your own life I want you to consider adding this one too…
The ultimate shared meaning of life for everyone on the planet is:
Helping others get through their lives a little bit easier.
That’s the whole meaning of life for mankind as a whole.
If you think about it – that’s what everything, every clue about the meaning of life is pointing toward…
Helping others get through life just a little easier than they would have without the help.
Life is full of suck for all of us. There’s a lot to deal with. Some have it easier than others, sure. But, in the end if you really took a realistic look at your life you’d see that your life is FILLED with pain.
The alarm clock rings in the morning. You know you should get up. The way society is in America, you must get up. If you don’t get up you must lie to your employer about why you didn’t make it to work that day. Do that a couple of times and you’ve lost your job and caused more problems than the pain that existed pulling yourself up out of bed.
From the time you wake up until the time you sleep you have things that you ‘need’ to do to keep participating in the society you live in. Most of these things are not what you would choose to be doing in an ideal life. If your life were ideal you would choose what to do with each part of your day. Few of us have that freedom.
Not all that many of us will take an objective look at their own life and see all that sucks about it. If we did – we’d ask ourselves – WHY are we going through life like this? Am I not SMARTER than this? Why do I owe 9-12 hours of my 16 hours awake to someone or some company I could care less about?
Life as is it in these United States, sucks basically.
There are those of us that can deal with it everyday. We might blow off steam once a year or once in three years. That’s all we need. There are those that can’t make it through each day without major drama.
Is it their fault? How long could you go being so poor you couldn’t buy clothes detergent to hand wash your clothes? How many times could you listen to your kids asking you what’s to eat for lunch when you know they’re going to have to make it through without lunch until they get some bread and peanut butter for dinner?
Me? Not too many times.
There are people in the USA like this. There are people in the world like this. There are HUNDREDS of MILLIONS of people in the world like this. In your town you might know someone like this. You may have had a problem with them in the past or you may know poor children that are in class with your children.
You might have been cut off while driving by someone that has just had enough of life’s stressors and can’t take anymore.
Here in Thailand the majority of people are doing OK on what little they have. They wake up and go to work like you do. They have families that need fed and they work 8-12 hours like you do. Overall most in Thailand are doing well enough to survive and thrive. At the end of the month after expenses they might have an average of $18 to spend on non-necessities. Most of them are OK with that. That’s what most people have. It’s the norm for Thai society. In American dollars that might equate to almost $100 USD.
Others, and there are thousands upon thousands in this country of 65 million, don’t have the education or the physical health to work as much as they need to in order to provide for their families. In the USA we tend to see poverty as something people can get out of if they just pulled themselves together. It’s their fault.
Pulling themselves together is the impossible part of that for most of them. For you and I, sure, we understand there are good times and bad and we roll with them. We tell ourselves there is more good than bad. But, what about those that tell themselves there is so much more bad than good? They’re impoverished and living in your town and every other town across America.
In Thailand there’s an understanding that older people have worked enough and the children are usually well meaning and working to support them as they move into adulthood and get jobs. There is also an understanding that there are quite a few people that didn’t get a good education – maybe NO education. Thai society, individuals really, take it upon themselves to help those that are too poor to take care of daily needs like food and a place to sleep.
Even so, Thailand is caught up in an era where many are starting to be able to make a little more money. There are Thais driving Mercedes Benzs that cost $100K dollars. There are Land Rovers, Lexus SUV’s, Toyota Landcruisers, BMW SUVs, and all kinds of European supercars driven by the rich. Some Thais have it all. Imagine making $40,000 usd per year and being able to afford a Mercedes, a Lexus RV and a $100,000 home. They’re doing it in Thailand. The cost of living here is cheaper than the USA – much cheaper. But, it’s not free.
Every Thai adult still needs $100 per month for even the most basic necessities in the smallest of villages to survive.
Not every adult gets that here. There are those that work construction for 10 hours a day every day of the week and they receive 2,000 baht (66 dollars) a month for their labor. They sweat outside under Thailand’s blazing sun and in the unbearable humidity every single day building homes for rich Thais just to be able to survive.
All around the world are people that are having a tough time of life. Some more than others. The meaning of life appears to be survival for a lot of people.
For myself… life isn’t that difficult. I feel like a winner in the game of life. I know that because I’ve continually pulled myself out of holes and accomplished whatever was necessary to get back to “good times”. I have that confidence about myself. I have the skills, the education, and the unsinkable attitude. I have a well rounded view of reality… Life sucks sometimes, and other times I’m doing everything I can to keep the suck in the background.
Are you like that? Most of you reading this article are. But, there are SO many people that aren’t and the meaning of life must be elusive.
I’ve been really thinking about this latest idea that life for each and every one of us is all about helping others get through their lives a little bit easier.
Some of us have it all. We laugh at others that tell us life sucks. We’ve got a house or houses, vacation home, boat, sports car, SUV, and every electronics toy that comes on the market. I’ve been there. It’s a great spot to be in. As I think back, it’s a selfish good feeling. Good yes, but it’s only being concerned with the self. That kind of good feeling doesn’t last very long.
Contrast your having it all with kids that are living in the projects that are shaking cockroaches out of their Corn Flakes box before they pour themselves a bowl to have with water (not milk).
Some of us are in a position to help. And, help a LOT. There are thousands of opportunities to help others that slip past us – often without us even noticing. I noticed that when I LOOK for ways to help I find some. I’ve been finding so many opportunities as I consciously go looking for them.
Helping others is the ultimate gratification in life. In a way it’s selfish too – because you’re actually making yourself feel really good. But, what better way to be selfish? It’s a win-win. We’re by nature, selfish beings. We seek to repeat experiences which make us feel good. We do that which makes us happy.
Try doing something for someone else. Try helping them do something, to accomplish something – however small, and see how you feel. I’ll bet it feels good. TRY it to feel it yourself and see how easy it is to get addicted to that feeling. I am seriously becoming addicted to it as I realize more each day that there’s nothing better for me to do with my life than help others. Helping others it the meaning of life for me.
What else can you do for yourself that makes you feel so good except giving something of yourself to others? Buy yourself a new iPhone? How long will that good feeling last? Until the next phone comes on the market. But really, not even that long.
Doing something for others that you didn’t need to do… weren’t obligated to do… maybe didn’t even have TIME to do… and that you did just because you wanted to help a fellow human being get through life a little bit easier is the coolest feeling in the entire realm of experience.
Find out for yourself – I challenge you.
Not only poor people need help. I’m not talking just about monetary help. Helping others can be ANYTHING that helps them get through life easier.
Can you make someone smile?
Can you give someone an alternative view that might get them unstuck from a downward spiral of negative thinking?
Can you offer some words of encouragement?
Can you share a story about your life that mirrored an experience someone you know is having and how you pulled yourself out of it?
Can you help someone get somewhere? Offer a lift to somewhere? Can you offer a smoke to someone? Can you offer 10 minutes to help someone do something? Can you teach someone a new skill with your free time that might help them take care of themselves better later on as they learn?
For myself I really enjoy doing things in secret… I like to give someone something without them knowing where it came from. That to me is a real rush… I’ll share something with you that I was keeping for myself but it will show you how easy it is to do something cool for others without them knowing about it.
I was at a local Buddhist temple and I walked into the convenience store to get something to drink. Two little girls came in after me – maybe 7 years old, both of them. They were in dirty shirt and shorts and their clothing was really simple. They were skinny as rails and they had 20 baht with them clenched tightly in one hand.
Some rubber springy balls almost like yo-yos but made entirely of grippy flourescent yellow and green rubber with tentacles caught their eyes as they came in – they both walked quickly to them. They talked excitedly about them and played with them before looking at the price. 20 baht each. They played a little more and then resigned themselves to looking all over the store for something they could afford for both of them.
I quickly chose a drink from the cooler and went to the cashier, a Buddhist nun I’ve known for a year now… when the little girls were behind one of the rows of goods I grabbed two of the springy balls – a yellow one and a green one and paid for them. I gave them to the clerk and asked her to give them to the girls. She started to call the girls and I asked her to do it when I was gone. Secret. Kwam Lahp!- in Thai.
I walked away from the store and watched from a distance as they came out playing with the balls – so excited and looking for the foreigner which gave them their secret gifts.
The smiles and the excitement on their faces made me smile inside. For 40 baht, about $1.33 I was able to give them something fun to do for a few minutes… maybe an hour. Maybe they have brothers and sisters that will play with them too? Maybe they’ll tell their parents the story. Maybe their parents will have a better view of foreigners in their country. Maybe…
What could be better than helping others become a little bit happier? What could be better than making life a little bit easier for someone? What better meaning of life than this?
Is there anyone you know that you can help get through life a little bit easier today?
Your action need not be life changing. It need not be dramatic. You don’t have to give someone $100 to help. But, you might give $3. You might contribute to someone’s plugin you used to power your FireFox browser. You might offer to carry something for someone. You might offer a ride to someone or share a book you are finished with and that will sit on your bookshelf for 19 years before someone decides to throw it away or donate it to the library.
You might do…
A n y t h i n g.
Look for opportunities… they’re all around you if you look for them.
Best of Life!
Peter KayThe meaning of life just might be… living in Hawaii and enjoying life as much as possible. Sound good?
All images © Apornpradab Buasi.