Sometimes amidst the hustle and bustle of the rat race I get tired, you know, and I look around and wonder: What’s it all for, anyway? Why am I doing this? Why am I living this life? Such questions feel like little shining flashlights in a dark room. I’m typically so busy doing this and that, running here and there, that I basically have my eyes closed, just going on auto-pilot.
But, then, in those quiet recesses of in-between, especially during the beautiful fall afternoons, with their colorful leaves, cool breezes, and yellow sunlight, all which signal a near term change, I question whether I’m doing the right things. I mean, am I doing something worthwhile? Am I enjoying life? Or, am I missing it? What should I really be focusing on? And again, what’s all the effort for, anyway?
In the search to find answers to the question of “what’s all the effort for, anyway?”, I’ve come across a couple of perspectives, which I highlight below.
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Coming from many religious perspectives, we’re here to grow because this life is a stepping stone to another life. The effort is consequently for personal development. Each religion seems to have different specific goals of personal development because they have different ideologies, but in general they all suggest that we have a purpose in life.
And science has found that people who feel like they have a purpose in life are much happier, on average.
The question then becomes: What’s my purpose in this life? So, that’s a super hard question (if you’re not following some specific religious ideology). But, in terms of writing, I’ve always wondered about the purpose. Why am I doing it? What’s all the effort for, anyway? And I think, at this point, it breaks down like this: a small part of my writing is to entertain readers (that is my overt goal), and an even smaller part is to make money (that is my dream goal; but I’m not quite living the dream yet, sigh), and the rest of it, the largest part of the reason for writing, is for personal development. When I write, I learn. I understand myself and the world around me to a greater extent. And I’d like to think I become a better person–better husband, better father, better son, better friend, better community member.
At any rate, here is a popular book related to this topic (The Purpose Driven Life). I haven’t read it yet, but it resonates with so many people. I should probably give it a try. If you’ve read it, what do you think of it?
Coming from various atheistic ideas, all the effort is for survival. As animals, we must have our basic needs met, such as food, clothing, and shelter. But, it’s more than that. We inherently want to find the right balance between pleasure and pain. In order to get pleasure, some pain will be involved. In this discussion, it’s effort.
Since we are a group-oriented species, we organize ourselves to create more pleasure and we also organize ourselves to try to diminish pain. So, all the effort is in conjuncture with other people to improve the pleasure-pain ratio so that we can better enjoy our short time under the sun.
In terms of writing, there is a practical exchange that helps both parties with the pleasure-pain ratio. Authors write to make money, which can be used to meet basic needs, and experience the joy of making people happy (fans especially make authors happy) and readers get entertainment, a chance to escape from the busy pace of life, and sometimes the fun of interacting with authors.
Consequently, in addition to personal development, all the effort is to improve humanity, even if it’s in a small way, because when humanity is helped, individual members are also helped, especially because from this perspective time is very short. So, we weave a tight web together to be able to meet our many mammalian needs and wants, which, you know, is basically to eat, drink, and be merry.
Although not directly related to the idea of answering the question “What’s all the effort for, anyway?”, this book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, I have heard is really great in terms of explaining how we came to be who we are and where we might be going as a species. I’m checking it out today, in fact.
So, what’s all the effort for, anyway? Why do we trek on day after day? One, we have a purpose in life and we seek to be better people. And, two, the brute fact of life is that we must have our basic needs met, as well as our mammalian desires, or the weight of existence will crush us. So, we organize ourselves together to feel pleasure and avoid pain, thereby helping each other out. Thus, in terms of writing, we write to learn and grow, to entertain others, and to be happy within our networks of family, friends, and community. And, hopefully, all the effort is worth it…some days more than other days 🙂
What Do You Think?
Since there are so many answers to the question–if someone asked you, “What’s it all for?”, what would you tell them? Please leave a comment below and any book recommendations you have. We’d all appreciate it!
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