As I wallow in the zesty afterglow of a solid day on the water, my thoughts trail back to a session I had a few weeks ago. It was the first time I had gone out windsurfing since getting back from a trip to the States, there weren’t many waves but the wind was enough to make it fun. I had made a few good gybes and had thrown in some duck gybes to test myself, when it suddenly occurred to me, this is the meaning of life. Improvement.
The concept has been rattling around in my head since and the more I think about it, the more I have to conclude that it is that age old question cracked. One first has to consider what are we really asking when we ask, “What is the meaning of life?” I am going to make the assumption that what we are actually asking is, “What is the purpose of life?” Or more specifically, “What is my reason for being?”. When phrased like that the answer makes more sense, the aim of our lives, all life is to improve.
|Tony during the session that left the glow.|
Think about it. You buy a bigger house, a faster car; you are improving your belongings (by traditional standards). You study, you practice sport; so you can improve your knowledge or skill level in your field. You go to the gym, go on diet; you are improving your body, most likely so that you can improve your chances of finding a better mate and therefore result in offspring that have better genes. I guess this isn’t a new idea, evolutionists have essentially been saying the same thing for awhile now, evolution is the result of mutation the improves a beings chances of survival and thus its chances of passing on its genes.
This has lead me to conclude that we are happiest when we can see ourselves improving in some area. Ever noticed how self help books are always based around an improved you? The problem here lies in the fact that we are constantly measuring ourselves on a daily or even hourly basis such that the improvements are so minute that we do not notice them. It is like watching a plant grow, if you actually look at it every hour or day, you won’t notice that it is getting bigger but if you don’t look at it for a week and then check it, you will likely notice a significant difference. The same is true for measuring our improvement, when we take a break from something, our reference to how good we were at it remains the same so when we get back to it we notice our improvement more against that previous reference.
For me this has been the case since getting back on the water after a couple weeks away, not only have I noticed an improvement in my windsurfing but also SUP and surfing which has meant enjoying myself even more and general happiness. So if you are getting frustrated with yourself or down on your purpose in life, take a break, try something new – it is easy to see improvement from nothing to something, more difficult from something to something. When you get back to what ever it was that you were focusing on you will notice the improvement and thus on top of the improvement noticed trying something new you will feel a sense of purpose and renewed enjoyment manifesting itself as all round happiness.