What is the meaning of life? This is a question that has been asked for centuries, and yet it remains elusive to many. It’s a question that has been tackled by philosophers, theologians, and even scientists, yet there’s no definitive answer. However, there’s one quote that stands out, one that brings a sense of simplicity and clarity to this otherwise complicated question. The quote goes, “The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”
These words were spoken by Alan Wilson Watts, a British philosopher, writer, and speaker who was known for popularizing Eastern philosophy for Western audiences. He believed that the Western way of thinking was too focused on achieving goals and material success, which caused people to lose sight of the present moment and the simple pleasure of just being alive.
Beyond Achievements: Finding Meaning in the Present
Watts’s quote suggests that the meaning of life is not about achieving something beyond oneself but rather finding fulfillment in the present moment. Instead of constantly striving towards some future goal or accomplishment, we should focus on living in the present and experiencing life as it comes.
This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have goals or aspirations, but rather we should approach them with a sense of detachment, realizing that the pursuit of these goals should not consume our lives. Instead, we should focus on being present and finding joy in the journey itself.
The Importance of Mindfulness
To truly find meaning in the present moment, we need to cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of being present and fully engaged in the current moment. It involves being aware of our thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgment or distraction.
When we practice mindfulness, we’re able to fully experience life’s simple pleasures. We can appreciate the beauty of nature, the warmth of the sun on our skin, the taste of our food, and the sound of music. By being mindful, we can find meaning in the everyday moments that might otherwise go unnoticed.
Letting Go of the Pressure to Achieve
As Watts’s quote suggests, we often put pressure on ourselves to achieve something beyond ourselves. We set goals for our careers, our relationships, and our personal growth, and we measure our success by our ability to reach these goals. However, this pressure to achieve can lead to stress, anxiety, and a sense of unfulfillment.
Instead of constantly striving towards some future goal, we should learn to let go of the pressure to achieve and instead focus on the present moment. This doesn’t mean that we should stop setting goals, but rather we should approach them with a sense of detachment, realizing that the journey towards these goals is just as important as the goals themselves.
Embracing the Beauty of Impermanence
Another important aspect of finding meaning in life is to embrace the beauty of impermanence. Everything in life is impermanent, from our thoughts and feelings to the people and things around us. When we accept this impermanence, we can find beauty in the fleeting moments of life.
We can cherish the time we have with loved ones, appreciate the changing seasons, and find joy in the small moments that make up our lives. By embracing impermanence, we can find a deeper appreciation for life and a greater sense of fulfillment.
In conclusion, Alan Wilson Watts’s quote “The meaning of life is just to be alive” reminds us that the meaning of life is not about achieving something beyond ourselves, but rather finding fulfillment in the present moment. By cultivating mindfulness, letting go of the pressure to achieve, and embracing the beauty of impermanence, we can find meaning