How Does a Person Live a Meaningful Life?
One of the questions which have perplexed humankind is how to live a meaningful life. This is because there have been a number of theorists and philosophers, who provided insights about the best ways to achieve these objectives. Over the centuries, these views are constantly shifting. This is because experiences and social attitudes will shape a person’s insights.
To fully understand the meaning of life requires focusing on key ideas from the different philosophers. This will be accomplished by discussing central figures from each module in terms of their contribution, the pros / cons of their ideas and how this relates to their understanding of life. Together, these different elements will illustrate how each one of these theories is influencing the way someone can live a fulfilling life.
Epictetus — Freedom
Epictetus is focused on several different areas to provide a better understand of the meaning of life. The most notable include: rationality, value, emotional adjustment, concerns about others and mind / body. Rationality is when there is a clear explanation of why someone will engage in specific behaviors and actions by giving them a reason to do so. It is based upon explaining these insights using their own self-interest and how this will help to improve or hurt their quality of life going forward. (“Epictetus — Freedom,” 2013)
Values are knowing, the differences between right and wrong. This is from the influences of theology and societal norms / standards. Emotional adjustment is when the person will have a sense of inner peace within themselves. This is taking place, with them not being affected by issues such as: fear, greed, jealousy, contempt, joy and love. The basic idea is to maintain a neutral perspective and to not let anyone of them overly influence how someone is reacting. (“Epictetus — Freedom,” 2013)
Concerns about others are when there is sense of personal responsibility for those around them, their community, family and duty to humanity. In these situations, the individual has a responsibility in protecting all of these interests. This is a part of making society and the world they live in a better place. Mind and body is when there is an emphasis on maintaining a balance between strong mental and physical health. This is because both will work to help offer the individual with a better understanding of themselves and who they are. (“Epictetus — Freedom,” 2013)
These areas are providing specific insights about how it is important to have a sense of balance in life. This helps the person to make better choices and to think clearly. These contributions, enhances everyone’s understanding by positively influencing the way they react to a host of events. (“Epictetus — Freedom,” 2013)
The benefits that this provides are to enable the individual to assess situations more accurately and it prevents them from overreacting. This is achieved by questioning everything. However, there will be times when there must be an emphasis on specific areas in contrast with the others. This is because each situation is unique and sometimes a balanced approach is not effective in dealing with the challenges facing the individual. In this aspect, these ideas provide a foundation as to how someone should live. Yet, they are failing to account for the most appropriate way to make significant changes on a case by case basis. (“Epictetus — Freedom,” 2013)
St. Paul Hero or Saint
St. Paul is considered to be both a hero and a saint. This is because the ideas he presents are combining faith and reason together. Under his philosophy, he believes that God is the sole creator of the universe. Those who are not following his ideals and practices will more than likely face internal damnation from not embracing these beliefs. This will occur when God returns for the final judgment of all humankind. To be able to achieve these objectives, everyone can talk to God. As he is open to their ideas and is willing to discuss what is happening with them. This is from their ability to reason and to see how he can make a positive influence on their lives. (“St. Paul Hero or Saint,” 2013)
The advantages of these ideas are that it is giving society a moral structure as to how they should be living their lives. This is achieved through God providing them with a sense of comfort, purpose and direction. However, the biggest weakness is that he is taking an all or nothing approach by focusing on the Christian perspective. This fails to take into account how other religions, which worship the same deity must act (i.e. Judaism, Islam and Buddhism). (“St. Paul Hero or Saint,” 2013)
Michelangelo was focused on the conflicts that existed with the theories of Neo-Platonism. It stated that there is one universal truth, which is connected to through a complex set of relationships. He challenges these ideas by showing how human beings are complex and conflicted. Yet, they also have untapped energy which can be unleashed to make difference in their lives. (“Michelangelo,” 2013)
The benefits of this strategy, is to highlight how the ideas of society and theology should be questioned. This offers someone with a better explanation of what is happening. However, a major drawback, is that he fails to elaborate further on these ideas and leaves them open to interpretation. (“Michelangelo,” 2013)
Dostoevsky believed that the current system of feudalism should be replaced with one which could address the social ills impacting society. He felt that Christianity offered a way of achieving these larger objectives. At the same time, he believed that democracies and oligarchies failed to address these problems and they effectively enslaved the people. This is because they do not deal with the root causes of racial and social problems. If everyone were Christian, Dostoevsky theorized that this would sort out the various socials ills effecting society. (“Dostoevsky,” 2013)
The strengths of these arguments; are this is creating lasting changes by demonstrating how the social aspects of problems must be taken into consideration. This will make society more equal and it addresses the main causes which are creating disparities. However, the weaknesses are, he is taking an all or nothing approach by assuming that Christianity is the end all solution in meeting these objectives. (“Dostoevsky,” 2013)
Viktor Frankl believed that life has meaning in all circumstances; the motivation for living is what drives a person and everyone has the freedom to find meaning in what they do / experience. This is occurs by demonstrating how life will shape the way the person reacts based upon their interpretation of these ideals. The result is that the individual uses these variables to influence who they are and what they will become. (“Viktor Frankl,” 2013)
The benefits of this theory are it provides everybody with sense of personal responsibility in taking control of their lives. This enables them to make better decisions and decide how to reach the larger objectives which are most important to them. However, a major drawback is that Frankl is utilizing a more generalized approach without looking at how the environment of the person will influence their thinking. (“Viktor Frankl,” 2013)
Mother Teresa believed that life is precious and that everyone should cherish it. This is occurring by having a sense of control and the power to change it. In order to achieve these objectives, they must follow various moral and ethical guidelines to make a difference in the world around them. (“Mother Teresa,” 2013)
The advantages of this theory, is it is demonstrating how everybody should take responsibility for themselves and the way they react to a series of events. This will allow them to be more productive and have a greater sense of empowerment. However, the drawbacks of these ideas are it is taking a generalized approach and does not consider the numerous issues people will face. (“Mother Teresa,” 2013)
Clearly, the different philosophies are showing the meaning of life will depend upon the way the individual thinks and reacts. To be truly fulfilled they must have a sense of balance, constantly question everything, have a sense of morality, use their untapped potential effectively, find meaning from events which occur and take charge of what is happening. These different areas will work together to create basic foundation for being happy and overcoming the various challenges which are impacting everyone.
This is the key to feeling better and having a sense of empowerment / control. When this happens, it is easier for the person to understand and deal with the world around them. Over the course of time, these insights will make them more effective in controlling their thoughts and behavior. This will help them to avoid falling into the same disempowering patterns as others. It is at this point, when they will be more in control of what events are unfolding and how they respond to them. This will help them…