The Purpose of Life Is Not Happiness, It’s Usefulness

I have always believed that life has a sole purpose, and happiness is what matters most. One of the reasons why we often go through adversity and suffering is to gain a level of happiness in one or the other. However, I am not the only individual who believes in this school of thought. For instance, if you take a look around your environment, you will discover this truth as most individuals pursue happiness.

It is one of the reasons why most of us purchase items we do not need, be in a relationship with people we don’t love and focus our energies on wrong people by seeking their consent. Why do we engage in this act of finding happiness every time? I will be candid in my assertion as I cannot precisely state the reason because I do not possess all the answers. I understand that there is a correlation between this topic and history, media, culture, economy, politics, psychology, information age, etc. There is no point arguing about the indisputable fact that we are wired this way.

People often tend to evaluate why most individuals live a lonely life and fail to live a fulfilled life. I am not interested in knowing the reason as I am concerned about how we can change. I tried all means to pursue happiness in the last few years and discovered that these factors do not guarantee satisfaction. Examples are:

● You think you will be happy once you purchase an item, but it does not guarantee happiness.

● You are happy to meet new people, and believe it will make you glad.

● You got a lucrative offer, and you do not like the job, and believe that will give you satisfaction.

● Going on an expensive holiday does not guarantee happiness. You visit new places, and you still feel that void in you that something is missing, and you keep asking yourself why the never-ending chase of happiness. The hard truth is that you have been chasing an artificial thing that you think will make you glad. Remember that it is not real, and you should not fall for it.

Aristotle once said happiness is the primary purpose and meaning of life, even the main aim of human existence. In my opinion, I believe there is a need to have a critical look at the quote of the renowned philosopher. When you read the quote, you are made to think that being happy is the main goal, which is the interpretation of the quote. You need to consider the context of the quote. How can happiness be achieved? It cannot be a goal in itself, after all.

Happiness is not what we achieve, and I firmly believe that it is a derivative of value. Each time I discuss this matter with close associates, family members, and friends, I could not find the right words to express my thoughts, but I will try my best to explain the concept in this write-up. Most of the things we participate in life are mere experiences and activities.

For example:

● You are going on that all-paid expense holiday to your favourite destination.

● Going to work

● Shopping at grocery stores

● Having coffee

● Having dinner

● Purchasing an automobile

Engaging in these activities makes you glad, is that true? These experiences are not valuable and useful. It is an activity where you consume an item or do something, and that is wonderful. To avoid being quoted from context, I am not condemning going for a vacation and shopping for your needs. However, these activities are not the core things that add value to our lives and make us happy. I am saying that my happiness is derived when I am useful to other people around me.

I am happy when I create a valuable item that makes life convenient for others or when I design something I can use for myself. I have been experiencing difficulty explaining the correlation between happiness and usefulness until I came across a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, which gave me full clarity. 

According to Emerson, the purpose of life is not happiness but being useful, compassionate, and make a difference that you have lived a meaningful life. That was the missing link I did not realise before I became more aware of my real purpose. Though it looks cumbersome, it is a simple procedure. You need to ask yourself, “what are you currently doing to make a difference? In your lifetime, did you engage in meaningful things?

You are not required to change the world, but you have a responsibility to make the world a better place than how you met it. These are some of the ideas you can utilise to make a difference:

● Assist your boss with a task that is out of your job description.

● Take your parents for dinner

● Create a photo collection for your partner

● Sit and write an article about life lessons you have learned

● Assist a pregnant woman with a 2-year-old with her stroller

● Call your friend and ask if they need your assistance.

● Create a group of like-minded individuals and work on a project.

● Start a business, employ staff, and treat them with respect. You can have more ideas about useful things to do to add value. It is that simple, and when you engage in little meaningful activities each day, it will make your life memorable. 

In his book, “Not Fade Away,” Peter Barton wrote about how he lived and discovered his calling. He attended business school, and he has this to say about his fellow MBA candidates: “these people were exceptionally bright individuals who would never do anything and add immense value to the society and would not likely leave a meaningful heritage.” This makes me feel sad, and I noticed that the potential had been wasted. This is an unfortunate reality for most of us.

He realised this point in his thirties and created Liberty Media, a company that revolutionised the cable television terrain.

If we take a critical look at the lives of successful folks, they want to create something and usually live with the slogan “Do More.” On the other hand, most individuals who are not as successful as they are would question why they should work more. The less successful ones will spend more time on Netflix and watch episodes of Money Heist. To add value and be useful to others is a mindset. Come to think of it; every mindset begins with a decision.

I once woke up and asked what I was doing to make this world a better place, and my answer was in the negative. I started writing on that day, and I am not saying your starting point should be writing. It could be taking care of the elderly folks, painting, or anything that fuels your passion.

Do not stress your head over it. Make sure you engage in valuable activities. Start NOW.

Umair Khan

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