In order for life to be worth living it should have a purpose and for our life to be meaningful we must have some aspiration that makes it worthwhile. A life without any purpose or aim is futile. Different individuals have different factors that add meaning to their life. Meaningfulness is an essential component of our life. It gives us the hope, determination and passion to achieve the things that we believe make our life complete.
Most of the people fail to find a purpose for their life and lead a meaningless life. They have nothing to strive for and to achieve. This is because people usually wait for that purpose and they believe that it will come to them by itself. Adding meaning to our life does not necessarily mean that we must achieve something in return. Sometimes giving something to the outside world, to our surroundings, also adds meaning to our life and gives us a sense of completion and contentment.
In order to analyze the factors that add meaning to different individuals' lives Gordon Matthews interviewed 50 Japanese and American couples. In his book, 'what makes life worth living', he added the points-of-view of nine couples. These couples were considered as individuals giving their opinion about life and not as the representatives of Japan and the United States of America. (Matthews, 1996)
Gordon tried to determine what the citizens of the two super powers of the world thought about life. He determined that there is a term "ikigai" in Japanese which means "things that make your life worth living' or in other words what are the most important things in your life. Gordon asked the people of Japan about what makes their life worth living and average answers that he got were family, leisure time and work etcetera. (Matthews, 1996)
In America, however, there is no such term as 'ikigai'. Gordon, therefore, asked the people the following question 'what is the meaning of life for you', most of the people were not able to understand the question therefore Gordon rephrased the question and asked the people 'what makes their life worth living?' And the response he got was similar to that of the people of Japan. (Matthews, 1996)
Individuals usually form and classify their 'ikigai' on the basis of the norms and ethics of the society in which they live. We all have an 'ikigai' in our life as it is essential for our lives. It makes our lives significant and worth living for but it is always in alignment with the societal forces that surround us as we have to interact with these forces from time to time in order to sustain in this world. (Matthews, 1996)
It was also determined by Gordon that it is difficult for the people to sustain and maintain the meaning of their life in old age as compared to young age. This is because they retire from their work and can no more find meaning in their job or work. Their children also leave home hence they cannot find meaning in family. They, therefore, try to find a purpose for their life in their social circles and distant family relationships, which is a very difficult thing to do.
Gordon said that if people try to find meaning in their work they will soon lose their purpose. According to him the real meaning of life lies within the social and blood relationships that a person has. They are the things that add meaning to life and make it worth living. (Matthews, 1996)
Life has a different meaning for different individuals and people see and interpret it from their own point-of-view. The factors that I believe add meaning to my life are sports that I want to pursue as career, having a family, good social circle that is a sincere bunch of friends and financial success. These factors, I believe, will give me a complete sense of satisfaction in life.
The answer to the question 'what makes our life worth living?' roots back to our childhood. For me the worthiness or the meaning of life lies in the fact that I have a unique purpose to fulfill. I have to face my own unique challenges and overcome my unique problems. The purpose of my life is divided into many components and one of these components is to pursue a career as a football coach. I realized that being a football coach is an important thing for me from my childhood as I used to act as a coach with my friends when we played. And now I am 23 and still I have the same dream that is to complete my studies and to be a coach, to make my players perform up to their best level. I believe that when we are satisfied with what we are doing then we are living a life that is worth living. For me career is also an important aspect of life. It gives us an identity and a sense of self-respect. If I will be able achieve this goal then I will most probably be contented and satisfied with my life.
I also believe that love, family and children have an undeniable connection with happiness. Family gives us something to live for. My family enhances my confidence and with them I feel happy and less stressed. For me, to live a life that is worth living for, getting married and having children is also important. Being loved is an important requirement of every human being and I believe that families are your first and most important source of love. No matter what you are going through they will always stand by you and believe in you even when you are not able to believe in yourself. Their love is unconditional and they add purpose to your life as you have someone to live for. Sometimes a simple meal with your family makes you forget all your problems and I believe that family is the most cherished and the most precious possession a person can ever have. Therefore, in order to make my life meaningful I would like to raise a family so that I can have someone to look at in times of happiness and misery.
Friends are also an important part of life and they also play an important role in making our life significant. It is important for a person to be accepted as who he/she is and friends are the ones that accept us as we are. We share some most important moments of our lives with them. They are there to help and support us when we are sad and to celebrate with us when we are happy. Friendship is the most important relationship in life. They are the family that we chose to be with and the special laughter and secret jokes that we share with them are carved in our mind forever.
For me coming back from job and spending an evening with a bunch of sincere friends adds meaning to my life. I think it will give a sense of satisfaction and it will complete my day. Friends are one of the most important factors that make life worth living and add meaning to it.
Another factor that, I believe, is essential for my life is financial success. From a practical point-of-view, being financially stable is important for surviving in today's competitive era. I would like to have financial success in my life so that I can provide a good lifestyle for those associated with me and so that I can lead a decent life. Being financially stable also adds to your confidence and self-respect. Though, according to me, emotional stability is a more important aspect of a good life but thinking from an economic or practical perspective, financial stability also plays an important role in making our life worth living.
Different people have different factors that make their life worth living. Some people associate the true meaning of life with work, whereas others try to find in blood relationships. For some people, friends are more important than blood relationship whereas, for some people financial success is the most important aspect of life. Whatever factor people believe is most important for their life and adds meaning to their life must be in alignment with the norms, principles and rules of the society in which they live. For me a life that is worth living is a combination of different emotional and financial factors and a balance between them enables us to lead a life full of satisfaction and happiness.
People pursue their Ikigai to make their lives worth living. Ikigai means the most important thing in one's life. People may have different Ikigai according to their cultural surroundings and personal values. These Ikigai then become the topic of discussion among many groups and gatherings. They also give a person the sense of completeness in his life.