When I was eleven, I asked my little brother, then five, the following question: "What's the point of living?". He immediately replied, "Well what?! To buy ourselves toys!"
His answer made me laugh, and I went to tell my father this anecdote. This was his response: "An idiotic answer to an idiotic question!"
By this answer, my father insulted me greatly. By the way, this was not the first time he treated me like that. He contributed greatly to my loss of self-confidence. Let me be clear! I don't only have rebukes towards my late father: he brought me many things, for example the love of knowledge. And as for the tendency he had to humiliate me, I forgave him a long time ago. But what do you want? No one is perfect! Neither he nor I!
But this time, it was my father who said something silly:
1) The question is not idiotic! All the philosophers asked it themselves. We all ask it ourselves one time or another. Throughout our lives we constantly face problems, we make plans, we feed on the hopes that we will achieve certain goals we have set for ourselves in life. And what do we get in the end? Our well-known and inevitable death, which comes to emphasize the absurdity of all of this.
2) The answer is not idiotic either! This is even the most intelligent answer a five-year-old could have given: we live "To buy ourselves toys," that is, to enjoy.
For most of us, happiness is a concept that is on the one hand clear, but its realization is questionable.
- The concept is clear because we've all already known more or less moments of happiness during our lives. These moments led us to dream and seek Happiness with a capital H.
- But this is also the reason why its realization is questionable: people define happiness for themselves as a complete sense of satisfaction that they strive for, because they had a primary taste for it. This situation will happen in the more or less distant future, and some even say to themselves: Only in the next world! And this if and only if certain conditions they set for themselves are realized.
I have come to the conclusion that this view of happiness is incorrect and even harmful:
It has led many people to never be truly happy, either because their dreams never realized, or because when they finally realized, it did not satisfy them: Take for example those people who don't know how to manage their fortune after the lottery they won after playing for decades, with the faint hope that they will ever win. This misconception of happiness sometimes leads people "who had everything to be happy" to commit suicide. I remember my beloved cousin Florence, who said (unfortunately not taken seriously enough) that she would end her life if she did not get married at the age of 25. She committed suicide a few days before she was due to celebrate her 26th birthday.
No! In my opinion happiness is for here and now! We must strive to be happy today, tomorrow and tomorrow. A good idea is to ask yourself at the end of the day: How was it different from all the days we knew until now? Thus, we find that there have been happy events, which come to compensate for our daily worries. Personally, I keep a diary on WhatsApp where I summarize my day in a few lines.
Since I have determined that happiness is here and now, I have adapted to the following habit, which has made me much happier and that I highly recommend you to adapt to yourselves.
But before I tell you about this habit, I have a note: if what I recommend to you does not speak to you, do not try to do it artificially, and then complain that it does not work for you. Instead, act as follows: Read and internalize it. Until the moment I wish you where you will rediscover for yourself all that I have written. What is it like? When I first heard about the benefits of thinking positively, it seemed to me delusional and just not true. And this is really the case if, for example, you naively define everything that happens to you as positive. A positive thought is not to say about everything that is positive but to see the positive in everything, which is something completely different. I realized this only after I rediscovered it and realized: Positive Thought: what it is yes and what it is not?
Let's go back to the habit I adapted to. The habit is that every time your mind is not busy with anything special and you ask yourself: what to do?
1) Think of the thing that will bring you happiness in the present moment.
2) Do it
3) Then ask yourself if you are happy that you did it, and in 99% of cases the answer is yes. And tell yourself that you are happy.
If you ask me what is this thing that will make you happy? So, it could be anything you really feel that way about. for example:
- Do some craft that you should have done a long time ago and you will be happy that you resigned from it after you did it.
- Initiate some new ideas for yourself.
- Or just rest and lie down to sleep if that's what you want.
Very quickly this habit will become a part of you and you will live with the feeling that you are happy. A second advantage is that while you are awake, you will always think of something specific and not let your brain hover or just get bored.
When I say we should enjoy every day ("Buy ourselves toys") it certainly does not mean that we should seek pleasure at all costs, or always seek the same pleasure (fall into debauchery or become addicted to something). Besides, do we really enjoy in the end if we do so?
Apart from pleasure, there is another reason that answers the question: "What is the point of living?" This reason is: "To prepare our lives after death." And I say this even though I do not believe in heaven, nor in the presence of the dead among the living, in which the followers of spiritism believe.
I will explain all this in a moment, but first of all, I would like to tell this: there are many more similarities than one thinks between the various religions, and I include atheism, and the various non-religious beliefs, for example like those of spiritism followers.
Example: All religions advocate their attachment to certain human values such as truth, freedom, justice, beauty and love of the others. The attachment to these values derives from the commandments of the various gods and their prophets, whether Zeus, Gd, Allah, Vishnu, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, and many others. I ask: What is more important? Who was it that gave this or that commandment, or what are the common values of all the prophets?
And I'm not saying anything trivial or obvious here. There has been no shortage of people over the years who have preached doctrines advocating values that are radically contrary to the traditional and universal values we have just mentioned. I think especially of Nazism, which placed the "superior race" above truth, freedom, justice and love of the others. The problem is that all of these doctrines without exception eventually went bankrupt.
After all, it is not surprising that the teachings of all religions say essentially the same thing. This is because all beliefs examine the same reality, that is, nature and in particular human nature.
Also, there was never a shortage of fanatics, in all religions, who claimed that their religion, their God and their prophets, were and only they were right. This often led them to perform acts that were completely in contradiction to the universal values we were talking about.
Let us return to the question: "What is the point of life?". I said that there is another answer (besides "Buying ourselves toys") and that is: "Preparing our lives after death". And I say this even though I do not believe in heaven, nor in the presence of the dead among the living.
But as I said before: almost all doctrines say more or less the same thing, which is not surprising because overall they all examine the same reality.
I see myself as secular and rationalist. Well, you will see that even with this view of the world, not only can we believe in the afterlife, but even prove it.
As a computer scientist, I tend to define the human soul (our feelings and thoughts) as the software originally created on a particular computer (hardware): in the case of the human soul, the hardware on which it is built consists of our nerve cells: the neurons.
Once a software is created on one computer, it can continue to run on other computers as well. Also, our soul can act ("run") on other people's neurons.
Let's take an example: You are now reading a text created by my soul. If you remember and assimilate it, it will become part of your intellect and can evolve, and even change in different directions through your neurons.
All this is true throughout our lives. Even after we die, our soul can continue to run on other souls, other bodies, other neurons. And this is exactly what I call "life after death."
Not only is our soul still alive in other bodies after our death, but it may even be called to change there. Think what we mean when we say "my grandfather would have turned inside his grave if he had known what was being said about it today! He would surely have changed his mind!"
One of the goals of our lives, other than "Buying toys for ourselves," is building a soul that will continue to live and make an impact, perhaps many years after we die.