The meaning of life – Finding purpose

When I was little I had a feeling that unless I was there to perceive it, the world did not exist. It ended and was created anew every time I closed and opened my eyes. In other words, I thought myself to be the center of the universe, and not only that, but also its creator. Self-absorbed much? Of course, I knew intellectually, with my rational mind, that this was not the truth. But when you are a child, a feeling is so much more important than a rational thought.

I remember the first time I visited India. I was 17 and had never been outside Europe before. Landing in the multicultural and multicolored chaos that is India was a violent attack on my Norway-adjusted senses, to say it mildly. It felt as though I had landed on a different planet. This could not possibly be the same world I had grown up in. After returning to Norway I got that same feeling again that I had experienced as a small child. India must surely seize to exist when I am not there. It was impossible to believe that that exotic world was still going about its day on the other side of the globe.

What I later found so intriguing about this particular type of orientation was the consecutive conclusion that every single human being must, at least at some point of time, feel the same way. This was a fascinating thought! That each and every one of us is a universe all on our own, made up of silently verbalized thoughts, feelings, mental images, and subconscious impulses. Later, while diving into the wonderful authorship of Charles Dickens I learned that he truly was the master of tapping into all these different universes. In one of his books, I can’t remember exactly which one, he states that each human being that lives, has lived and will live, is a story, a uniquely fantastic story with a unique plot and characters. Isn’t that a magnificent thought? Imagine, none of us, not a single one of us who lives, has lived, or will live, is the same. Mind blowing, isn’t it?

And yet, we are all made up of the same stardust. Our minds, bodies and souls are constructed by the same building blocks. We are, in essence, one. This, to me, is the beautiful human paradox, we are both sameness, oneness, unity, and absolute and irrevocably unique. There is not a single person in the world who has the exact same thoughts-feelings-experiences, i.e. story, as you. None. This insight makes all of us relevant to the history of the life of human kind. If we are all unique, we are all interesting, we all have some unique and valuable contribution to make.

Now, here we reach the essence of this article’s over-ambitious title. When there is not two of the same in a circumstance, that makes each part important and unconditionally valuable. Speaking plainly, we all have unique creativity, thoughts, imagination, insights and talents, and that makes us important to human kind and its history. Exploring and developing this uniqueness, expanding and narrating our story, gives meaning, perhaps the only meaning we really need.

I often hear people stating that individualism is selfishness and self-centeredness, the opposite of cooperation, generosity and compassion. I beg to differ. Abraham Maslow was the psychologist who gave us the famous pyramid of human needs, at the bottom of the pyramid lies the solid foundation of life; what we cannot live without, which is food, water and shelter. At the top of the pyramid we find self-actualization. This is, to Maslow, the peak of human sophistication. When society has fulfilled all our other needs, this is what tops the cake. This pyramid has been criticized to be a very Western concept (Maslow was American). Perhaps it is, perhaps not.

When I was a pupil in primary school, self-development was a part of our curriculum, a small part (about an hour a week), but nevertheless a part. We learned to pin-point our strengths and weaknesses, explore our talents and analyze our personality traits. And more importantly, we learned to use this self-insight to expand our empathy. We learned that our mental health is determined by outer circumstances, to say it simply, if we had not been born in safe, peaceful and rich Norway, our heads and our hearts would, metaphorically speaking, look quite different, and our subconscious impulses would compel us to behave quite differently. And here, in my opinion, lies the key to why individualism is not just a big ego-trip.

To believe in oneself and the value of one’s life in the world, regardless of social status, regardless of our relationships, our physical attractiveness and our socio-economic background, we must first learn to trust that we have something valuable to bring to the table. That is self-actualization. Be it on an international scale rippling through an entire world, or on a smaller scale by contributing and making a difference in a friendship, in the family or in a local community. Self-actualization is a constant noun that cannot be affected by a wavering adjective.

To be human is to matter, and to me, the more I explore my own unique humanity, the more I can matter. In other words, the more uniqueness I bring to the table, the more difference I can make in the world. And if there is one fact that the history of all life screams loud and clear, it is that we are, as individuals and as a unity, on the move. Life wants to realize all its potential. And to me, that is the meaning of life.

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36 thoughts on “The meaning of life – Finding purpose

  1. Pingback: The Meaning of Life: Finding Purpose – Dark Side of the Moon

  2. Yes, everyone is unique and valuable and on the other side we are all the same – stardust. Does that includes even our enemies and people who kill other people? When we are human being all together like a huge barrel with all the features that human being have then you have to say yes. It’s difficult, isn’t it?
    I love your way of thoughts! Great post!

    • Yeah, accepting that people who kill and commit violent crimes have the same worth as those who go out and dedicate their lives to do good is hard. Sometimes too hard if it affects us personally. But what I normally do when I am upset and disappointed in such people is to picture them as tiny babies in their mother’s arms, grasping unto her fingers for comfort, completely defenseless and innocent of the world. That reminds me that none of us are born evil, it is something that happens to us, often in combination with our born-with temperament, that makes us act and react certain ways. Abuse, neglect, poverty, even spoiling and entitlement, can make such a deep impact on us that we lose touch with our “souls”. Twisted beliefs taught to us when we are impressionable young can give a feeling of victimization or superiority causing us to de-humanize those who oppress or are told to be beneath us. I think calling people evil or bad is just too simple, and it really makes me feel anxious when people we trust to be the leaders of this world does that, when they are too narrow minded to look beyond the bad behavior and try figuring out what is the cause of it. We know so much about psychology, sociology, biology and social anthropology today that it baffles me that we still reduce criminals and criminal acts to just evil. Anyway, that was quite the long answer 😉. But I am so glad you liked my post, thank you so much for your comment and valuable contribution! 😊

      • My pleasure! I agree with every word you’ve written. Yes, nobody is born evil. And we all have the potential to be bad and cruel. For many it is easier to see other than the perpetrators, to cover up the guilt they carry.
        Have a nice day Trini! Simone

  3. I really appreciate the depth of your thoughts in this post. It provided me with that much needed experience of sharing space, where we both matter individually and uniquely. Where we each get a chance to experience the world as we encounter it and process it. It’s interesting to learn more about you. 🌸

  4. Beautifully written Trini. That love within is that core adventure to find ourselves, be it from just taking a walk to empire building. Even to the point that our self realisation is the creator of what we are becoming, moment to moment, and beautifully integrating with all around us ❤ 😀
    A lovely share my friend, may your story have much purpose…it is always changing me as I read your journey, rippling ever onward 😀 ❤

    • Thank you so much, Mark! For your beautiful comment and insight! 😊💖. You make this blog better and more beautiful with your amazing words 💖. Thank you! 🍃🌸🙏🏻🌸🍃

  5. Lovely thoughtful post, Trini 🙂
    You are lucky to have had this education in school in Norway. I wish, that I had the same back then. I don’t even think, this education is standard in Denmark today.

    • Yeah, I think I was pretty lucky. I’m not sure if they do it in Norway either anymore at primary school level. I know they do it for teenagers, but we need it much earlier than that. I wish all schools in the entire world would include this in their curriculum. It is sooooo much more important than maths and science.

    • I haven’t been around much either. I took a little break from blogging.😊. I will visit your site soon. I have been thinking about you though, and about your New York trip! I hope you had a blast! 💖💖💖. Sending you love always! 💖💖

  6. Wow, that was deep, Trini! We are all the center and the little part and we are all creators whatever we feel like being in that very moment. All is working together which makes the collective creation. I am amazed by the thoughts of the young Trini. Amazing post! Lots of food for thoughts!

    • Oh, thank you so so much, Erika! 💖💖💖. I love your take on this too! I love when people add their thoughts to my posts! It adds so much beauty, insight and inspiration! So thank you so much! 💖💖💖. I am sending you lots of love! 😊💖😊💖

  7. Trini, I have always thought of your as entirely unique my friend.. And through your younger years in Norway and that amazing curriculum of your primary school years of teaching self-development I am sure grounded you into the person you are today.
    The lessons to bring with your teaching words inspire, uplift and help the rest of us to take deeper looks at our own inner selves..
    It also took me a long while to shake off the indoctrinated thought processes of putting myself first was not the done thing.. As I had always put myself last..
    Seeing this is not selfish as you rightly say, was teaching me to love myself more.
    And when we learn to do that, the feeling we get is liberating..

    Many thanks dear Trini, for your amazing posts, your wonderful personality, I have cut down visiting as many in my blog land and no longer think I have to read every post written by everyone..

    But know when I do land upon your blog, I cherish your words, your wisdom and your presence..

    Wishing you a happy Diwali week my friend.. in the festival of LIGHT, that you share so lovingly..
    ❤ 💗🌈🌹💖😍

    • Oh, thank you so so very much, dearest Sue! 💖💖💖. You are always so amazing! And I so cherish your beautiful comments! Yeah, we all have our journeys, and I think that journey is both for our development and for us to inspire the world with our story. And I love that. Thank you so much for always being here, Sue! It means a lot! 💖😊💖😊. Sending you lots of love and happy thoughts, dear friend 💖😊💖😊

      • Always my pleasure to visit when I see a post from you Trini.. and you have always held that special spark of something that often the rest of the world lacks. So when I see you spreading that spark , I also see it igniting the world to be a better place as you illuminate it with your Light.. xxx ❤ take care and much love xx

      • Oh, thank you so much for seeing that in me, Sue, and for calling it a spark! 😊😊💖. It has been called a lot of not so nice things, so it is really lovely for me to hear it referred to as something beautiful. And for the record, I see the same spark in you dearest Sue! We’ll just have to shine together! 😊💖🌟💖🌟

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