The human condition lends itself to the quest for answers. This is particularly apparent when you see the world through the inquisitive eyes of a child. Why does a zebra have stripes? Why do the leaves change color in the fall? Are we there yet? When do I get this bag of candy?
As we get older, we still have questions and we still want to get the answers. However, we also have to recognize that finding the answers to the wrong questions really doesn’t get you anywhere. As we seek the meaning of life, we must be careful with the questions that we ask.
Allow me to illustrate with a few examples.
Why can’t I make more money?
Another common characteristic to the human condition is jealousy. It’s easy to become envious, yearning for more of this or more of that. And money is a means to acquire many of these material things. However, this is not really the right question to ask.
Instead of asking why you can’t make more money, you may learn a fair bit more about yourself if you ask why you want more money in the first place? Do you really think that earning an extra X dollars is really going to make you happier? Is it really going to make your life more complete? What is the bigger goal here? It’s only when you understand the motivation and rationale that you can ask another question: what can I do to make more money?
Why do I not enjoy the same luxuries as the top 1%?
The whole Occupy Wall Street movement has lent itself to this question. Again, the people who say they represent the 99% might cite that it is unfair for the top 1% to have this luxury, that advantage, or this privilege. But again, is that really the right question to ask?
Perhaps it is more appropriate to ask how the 1% got there in the first place, what would be a better system for modern society, and what we can do to put that “better” system in place. Or maybe you’d rather ask what specific steps you can take to join the super elite if you don’t feel that the status quo is particularly broken.
How can I find true love?
I feel quite fortunate to have married my high school sweetheart and I recognize that countless people struggle with finding a partner in life. But again, the answer to the above question may not be the one that you should be seeking.
Looking deeper within yourself, you might ask why you are looking for a partner at all. Is it for greater societal acceptance? Is it for a sense of “completing” yourself?
Love, money, the meaning of life… we all have questions about these topics and so many more. They lend themselves to certain objectives, but you have to be careful not to set empty goals. Otherwise, your answers won’t be fulfilling at all; they’ll simply lead to more questions.