David Webb: What We Choose to Think Determines the Meaning of Life

David Webb Profile pictureWhat is the meaning of life?

As someone who loves ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ by the late great Douglas Adams, I must confess that the answer “forty-two” immediately sprang to mind when considering the great question “Of Life, the Universe and Everything.” I’m pleased that it did though because it served as a great reminder that you need to know what the question actually is, in order to know what the answer means! And for me this age-old question designed to make you think, is actually about just that — thinking! In particular, the realization that what we choose to think about in life ultimately determines the meaning we give it.

We all construct a life of meaning through our thinking; however, for many people this does not equate to a meaningful life in the general sense of the term i.e. a life full of purpose, personal fulfillment, positive self-worth, happiness and well-being etc. Too many people spend far too much time during the course of their lives thinking about, and thereby giving meaning to, things of staggering unimportance. The inimitable poet and novelist Charles Bukowski understood this more than most when he wrote that “We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing”.

We think in ways that lend credence to the mundane and we waste time thinking about people who genuinely deserve nothing other than our indifference. We regularly think about things that just don’t matter in our lives when we could be thinking about things that really do. For anybody hoping to pursue a more meaningful life, this kind of thinking must be the exception, not the rule and the good news; as Martin Seligman points out, is that: “Habits of thinking need not be forever. One of the most significant findings in psychology in the last twenty years is that individuals can choose the way they think.”

Now there’s something to think about as you ponder the meaning of life.


~David Webb is a passionate promoter of psychology through social media, bestselling author and the owner, writer and host of www.All-About-Psychology.Com

Copyright © 2015 Excellence Reporter

Categories: Media, Psychology

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2 replies »

  1. As I have lived my life, I believe the purpose is to search for happiness and fulfillment. As I have experienced pain, I have empathy. I know that others will experience some level of pain with what I have gone through–mental illness, homelessness, and being shunned in the community. Therefore, I try to minimize that with my actions, letting people know they are not alone, and therefore, they can take solace in the fact that someone else understands their pain. My goal, therefore, is to maximize the happiness of those around me, that I can touch with my life. Why is that important? Because if you are happy, and someone else suffers, then the world is more open to crime, death, destruction, and decay. We live in an interdependent society. I am not a farmer, and neither was my mother’s doctor who saved her from cancer ravaging her body. From the grocery store clerk to the truck driver to the farmer, each has to make a living, each needs housing, and each one of them plays a role in our survival. If our goal was simply to survive, we would never have learned or had curiosity and basic questions like the meaning of life answered. Therefore, to free up time to answer those questions, to indulge curiosity, to stand on the shoulders of others who came before us, through education, we would never have reached to the sky with our buildings or have pictures of the universe, or the millions of other things we have learned and passed on to another generation. We would be animals with short lives, living in caves or nomads, seeking out how to feel better through food and clothing, being nothing more than an infant grasping to stay alive. We are better together than as individuals. We need everyone to play their role in order for society to function, and ultimately, for us to find happiness among the most amount of people possible.


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