Here are a few thoughts I have on finding meaning in life and work.
Don’t make your life more productive. Make your life more meaningful. Productivity is nice when it helps get rid of or limit the amount of boring stuff we don’t want to do. But productivity is not a be all end all. Use the time you save in automation and productivity to work on the stuff that matters — whether that be the work that really benefits you, some time with your family, or even just taking a mental break.
The story of every person’s life has at least a few good scenes. Many people get to the end of their lives and are so wrapped up in fear that they never did anything of value. As a writer I can tell you that I can write a decently good script for any person on Earth. Always strive to be better, but don’t get so worked up about what you have and haven’t done already.
Everyday I wake up realizing I may die tomorrow. This is what motivates me to create the change I wish to see in the world. Perhaps this point is written to be a bit dramatic. The key takeaway here is that remembering that death exists (memento mori) primes life’s fragility, which causes you to focus more on the most important tasks to work on in the long-term. Those tasks are probably what you should be working on anyway.
The meaning of life is to make the world a little bit better than it was before. This is the best definition I’ve ever come across and I really think it checks out. Perhaps it doesn’t explain why we’re here in the first place, but I’m not too interested in that question. Who knew the meaning of life could be so easy?
You’re only here for a short while. Why not make the best of it? Some people argue that Epicureanism and Stoicism are fundamentally divided philosophies. In reality, the two work together hand-in-hand. Epicureanism does not say that material is everything — it simply says that if you do have material, then use it! The use of material combined with the Stoic “I don’t need it” mindset can lead to a perfectly happy and healthy life. A little bit of emotion plus a little bit of rationality can go a long way.
If you want a good life, make the days feel long and fruitful. Design your ideal day-to-day, and then live that as closely as you can each day. I won’t lie, I’m still learning how to do this myself — but the days I’ve stuck to a routine that made me better are some of the best days of my life.