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In The Most Simplest Form, What Is Life About?


Lachlan

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I am really struggling to understand both myself, and therefore the world around me - and that includes you.

Is it possible to strip away all the complications and complexities of living, and look fundamentally at what we are doing as living things?

What indeed are we doing?

I'm not asking what the meaning of life is, just what people are actually doing as living beings (assuming there is anything universal between us)

I feel that if I could have at least a basic understanding of what human life is, then maybe I could start to learn about myself.

It seems that most people are playing a balancing game between pain and pleasure, both in regards to themselves but also other people and animals. Throughout life, and across different people in different countries and cultures, the rules may change, but the game seems to stay the same.

But is this correct? are there any exceptions? if this is not universal, then is there anything I can say that is universal about what it is to be human? other than the physical traits?

how do you make sense of your own life? do you look to other people to understand yourself?

Edited by Lachlan
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I struggle with finding meaning in this materiialistic world.

I have been reading a book on finding compassion written by the Dahli Lama. I can only agree with his words where he describes that meani ng in life is found through helping others and seeing that we are all in the struggle together.

If only I could stop being so afraid of making mistakes, being so negative and start living.

I am tired of living in fear.

Good luck in your search.

Edited by solarflare
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I am really struggling to understand both myself, and therefore the world around me - and that includes you.

Is it possible to strip away all the complications and complexities of living, and look fundamentally at what we are doing as living things?

What indeed are we doing?

I'm not asking what the meaning of life is, just what people are actually doing as living beings (assuming there is anything universal between us)

I feel that if I could have at least a basic understanding of what human life is, then maybe I could start to learn about myself.

It seems that most people are playing a balancing game between pain and pleasure, both in regards to themselves but also other people and animals. Throughout life, and across different people in different countries and cultures, the rules may change, but the game seems to stay the same.

But is this correct? are there any exceptions? if this is not universal, then is there anything I can say that is universal about what it is to be human? other than the physical traits?

how do you make sense of your own life? do you look to other people to understand yourself?

Hi Lachlan,

This is a very thoughtful and introspective posting, and I thank you for putting the questions out there.

When I think about life and what we are all doing as human beings on this planet, I have to think anthropologically, psychologically, biologically -- basically, I have to think about how we evolved, why human beings share universal traits, how we got to where we are as a species today, and what it means to have the capacity for understanding. It's a big question. Philosophically speaking, I think human beings are searching for equilibrium, but also happiness. Certain things create happiness within our minds, and this is for a reason.

Things that bring long term contentment and satisfaction are easy to spot, because people who lack those things suffer in the world. There is a heirarchy of needs, of course, the staples like food, water, shelter from the elements. But there are larger needs that add up in the recipe for a happy person, such as social support, community, outlets for self expression, acceptance from others and a lack of judgement, love and kindness from others, helping others in the group you feel you identify with, and so on. I honestly think that those things that will help us to be happy say a lot about us as a species. And so I am not saying that everyone shares the same likes and dislikes, but I am saying that there is a universal need for certain things in order for a person to be happy.

Those of us who do not feel happy, or are depressed, will try any number of things to get back to happiness. We will, for example, take medication, talk to doctors, priests, psychiatrists, psychologists, etc, read self help books and/or start excercizing. But we will also, for example, self medicate with illicit drugs or alcohol, hurt ourselves, or attention seek in negative ways, chase any kind of addiction, etc. So, there are a lot of different ways that people will look to feel happy, some have negative outcomes, some have positive outcomes for the individual. Some bring people closer to those universal things we all need (community, support, acceptance, self expression, love, etc). Others push us further away from things we all need.

How do I make sense of my own life? I look to my culture, my family and friends, to people around me, also inside myself to my own experiences weighed against what is good and what is bad in the moral code that surrounds me and that I share. I look at the decisions I've made, and the things I can control and those things that I have no direct control over. I look at everything and figure it out, figure out who I am and what life means to me. I see how things have benefitted me or not. And I'm not speaking in a purely selfish sense. Sometimes I may get a 'feeling' benefit rather than a 'material' benefit for something I've done or experienced.

In short, we are being what we are: homosapiens in search of equilibrium and happiness. And being happy means that we have to suffer negativity and unhappiness. The dichotomy of conscious existence is that we need the negative to have the positive. Dualism. And human beings excel at this; we have no choice. We evolved and live on planet earth. Everything we are as a species has been dictated by our planet and all that has and does exist on it, and its proximity to everything else in the rest of the universe (in other words, relativity).

I don't know if any of what I've said makes sense. You asked some pretty big questions, and I definitely didn't answer everything I was thinking with this small response. Heck, there have been thousands of libraries of books written about the very questions you asked.

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I don't know if any of what I've said makes sense. You asked some pretty big questions, and I definitely didn't answer everything I was thinking with this small response. Heck, there have been thousands of libraries of books written about the very questions you asked.

I think I undesratnd most of what you are saying. One thing your post did make me think about, was how a persons life and identity is effected by the groups they percieve themselves to be part of. It was your comments about where we've come from, and how we have lived in the past. You didn't really stress the degree to which other peoples wellbeing effects our own choices. sure I think we seek happiness and equilibrium, but we never operate successfully as individual units, do we? we are always tied, even in the smallest way, to others, and hence our choices are influenced accordingly. I think perhaps I have overlooked that to be human, is not only to consider oneself as an individual, but to recognise that you exist as part of a wider group. What do you think?

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teddy545, I like this idea.

How is is that you go about understanding yourself? don't you have to look at yourslef in the context of others in order to get that understanding?

helium, can you expand a little on what humanism and peace mean to you?

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What a great post.

I too struggle with the reality of myself in this world, being around others, and being on the Earth that I walk. The mere fact that I can stare at my own hand, feel the skin with my finger tips, and sing is quite surreal to say the least. I read a lot of philosophy back in the day and I still do from time to time. The point I am saying is that not many people take the time to grasp the theme of "Being and Time".

Unfortunately, people want to see things as simply they are and that they simply "exist" without ever a thought in the world on how it came to being or what.

I also do not understand the human behavior on why we do certain things. I work as a Cashier at Walmart temporarily (it sucks so bad...it also is making me a little bit depressed but I got depressed/suicidal way before that...after all I am only 25). And what I get to do half the time is watch people. I see them scatter about and I observe them carefully. They are in such a rush that they, themselves, do not realize the situation or reality.

It is one thing to see another human being but it is totally another thing to come to the realization that it is a human being. And I am not talking about in the sense that he/she is human but the mere fact that he/she is human. I know what I said is kind of redundant but after reading Heidegger, it hit me like a bullet train. It sinks you in and lets you feel your skin 200 times more than you usually do because you SEE and FEEL it.

So when it comes to your post on 'what life is about' and 'how do we balance pleasure and pain', I am not so sure. We all have our own interpretation.

Honestly, who would want to be in pain? Wouldn't you want to be in pleasure all the time, whether physically, psychologically speaking?

I too wish I could have a basic understanding of what it is to be a human being. I struggle in this world as much as the next person. I am born hard of hearing (technically deaf by birth), I am 5'5, I don't have great physical characteristics, I don't have any friends, I am 25 and still with my parents, I don't know the meaning of life. I sometimes live in the past, try to live in the present, or like to fantasize about the future in my dreams.

I feel like life is slipping me by and time is coming near me. A quarter of my life is over. And I don't think I will ever find the key, the answer, the formula on what it is to be a human being.

That is why I am depressed. I think about the reality of my situation more so than a lot of people. Maybe that is why I reject the future, my opportunities since I have failed to succeed. Is there a purpose to all this madness?

I just don't know, I don't know.

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I don't know if any of what I've said makes sense. You asked some pretty big questions, and I definitely didn't answer everything I was thinking with this small response. Heck, there have been thousands of libraries of books written about the very questions you asked.

I think I undesratnd most of what you are saying. One thing your post did make me think about, was how a persons life and identity is effected by the groups they percieve themselves to be part of. It was your comments about where we've come from, and how we have lived in the past. You didn't really stress the degree to which other peoples wellbeing effects our own choices. sure I think we seek happiness and equilibrium, but we never operate successfully as individual units, do we? we are always tied, even in the smallest way, to others, and hence our choices are influenced accordingly. I think perhaps I have overlooked that to be human, is not only to consider oneself as an individual, but to recognise that you exist as part of a wider group. What do you think?

Yes. I agree! :)

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If is easy to get lost amongst these issues. It made me really ill trying to fathum why I'm here, how I'm here, what reality is, etc etc

My way is - I'm hear, the world is beautiful in many ways, bad in many ways but I will try to live my life in a positive way, do the best for my daughter and then hopefully in the end I may find out what it was all about.

Daisy

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In the most simple form, Laclan, life is about passing on our genes. To misquote, a chicken is an egg's way of making another egg.

But look inside.

What makes you truly satisfied? Happy? Is it helping someone? Making people laugh? Raising children? Filling a need in the community? Working with the less fortunate? Being a living, working, breathing part of the "whole"? What, many years from now, would you ideally have them etch on your headstone to sum up your life and efforts?

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A few years ago someone at a forums I used to frequent posted this amazing answer to topic similar to this. I can't remember exactly what he wrote, but his answer to what life is about was simple: love.

"The meaning in our lives is wrapped up in what we love, in who we love, and in how we love. We act out of love. Much of what is accomplished is done because of our love for someone or something else. Love becomes a driving force within us. So strong is this force that many have been known to find the meaning of life from it." Or perhaps love brings meaning to life. I don't know.

I can see how important love is. It's what drives us to help others, what drives us to better the environment, or what have you. And yet it can hard to learn; perhaps learning to love purely and equally is the meaning in life...

I don't know if that's why I'm still able to feel hope, but I guess it does have something to do with it.

*Love here encompasses more than just romantic love. It includes the love you have for your family and friends, the love you have for your interests, and the love you have for yourself, among all the other facets it can take.

Edited by funchas
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