The other night my husband asked me what I thought was the purpose of life. I paused before answering. I don’t have these kind of hand-wringing, agonizing questions about life. I’m a very practical person actually, when it comes to life (we won’t discuss the expensive dress I just bought). Do I have a job, can I pay my bills, is there food, can we still have some fun? As long as those needs are met, I’m not looking for a bigger purpose. Which is the complete opposite of how my husband approaches life. Some people need a bigger purpose, and are unhappy if they don’t feel they are living up to that purpose.
In reply to my husband, I told him honestly. “I think the purpose of life is to live it.”
I thought we’d get into a debate, him questioning me again about what I ultimately wanted to achieve in life, me getting annoyed with him for not just being happy with life as is. We get into these back and froths a lot. I’m not saying that one shouldn’t have goals, or that one shouldn’t strive for something. My point is, I don’t believe in the thinking pattern of “If only I achieve this, then I’d be happy.” I believe in the opposite. If I’m happy and I’m doing everything I can to achieve my goals, then I’ll get there. And if I don’t get there, I may end up at a place just as fabulous. But I don’t want to be the person who can’t appreciate where I am because I’m to busy regretting where I haven’t been.
My husband surprised me though. He widened his eyes and said “That’s what the Dalai Lama said!”
He had recently watched an interview of the Dalai Lama held in our local university of UCSD. Apparently, the Dalai’s response to the question of the purpose of life was essentially the same thing. Life is for living. Nice! The Dalai Lama and I are just like two peas in a pod!
I am no guru, no Dalai Lama, I don’t boast to be an expert on anything, but I do know that I’ve been happy in my life, as opposed to others who have not been as happy. Happiness is a complicated thing. It’s partly taught, partly in the personality, it’s chemically-linked and once it’s hard-wired into your neurons, it’s very very difficult to change your pattern of response to situations. I don’t have the answer, but maybe an awareness that happiness is a choice is a start. That living and enjoying life, and that the Be Do Have approach rather than the “If I could only have this thing, then I’ll BE happy and DO all these things I have always wanted.” – is more conducive to one’s sanity.