I think everyone at one time or another has come to a crossroad where they question what they want to do with their life. On the other hand, you might be one of those lucky ones (just in my opinion), that just choose to live their life with pure faith. I am certainly the first type. From when I was a teenager, I remember being addicted to reading self-help books. Today, even though I have sworn them off forever, I am always still searching for the answer to: Why am I here?
I have read Buddhist teachings. Through therapy, I have learned to counteract my negative thinking. I also exercise regularly so I feel happier. Isn’t life about finding happiness or at least seeking a bit of joy? Thats what I thought till I watched Emily Esfahani Smith’s Ted Talk entitled “There’s More to Life Than Being Happy.” I am so sorry, but I cannot recall whose blog I watched this video from. If it was your blog, please get in contact me because I want to give you credit.
In the video, she talks about how chasing happiness might potentially lead to more unhappiness. Happiness comes and goes. Instead, if you seek meaning in your life, you will feel more fulfilled and resilient. She talks about her four pillars of a meaningful life, which include belonging, purpose, transcendence, and storytelling. I’m not exactly sure what I want to talk about in this post, except that after watching it, I had some reflections I wanted to share.
In her talk, Emily shared that before her dad went into surgery, he repeated a mantra of her and her brothers name. For him, it was this purpose of wanting to take care of his kids that gave him strength to make it through surgery. This story made me think about many things. What would I want to live for if I had to face death? What would my purpose be? Where do I find meaning in life?
For me, the idea of belonging was pretty obvious. Of course, I would want to continue living for my family and friends. I would want to continue to nurture and maintain those relationships. The second pillar of purpose required me to reflect a little more. I mean, I find a lot of purpose in my work, which allows me to help others. Along with that, I have found great purpose in writing this blog about mental illness. It has also allowed me to write a new story in my life. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, my mental illness has equipped me with firsthand experiences which I can share with others and hopefully help break down the stigma towards mental illness.
Transcendence though? I can’t think of anything that fits into this category. Emily says transcendence are those “rare moments when you are lifted above the hustle and bustle of everyday life” and you feel connected to a “higher reality.” Supposedly, these moments make you lose sense of time and place. I’ll continue looking.
I also had an opposing thought after watching this TED talk. I mean, I know happiness is fleeting, but gosh, I do love fireworks, rainbows, and eating dessert! What are your thoughts on happiness?