Ive always constantly wondered: What’s the best way to live?
It can be the life of fame, devotion to some religion, reputation, honour, simplicity, knowledge, intelligence, self-sacrifice, and much more to many different kinds of people.
If defining best is to be completely unbounded by external factors, and attaining freedom and peace for perfect contentment on one’s state in life, then what would be needed?
Unbounded and freedom in a sense that one would not be easily swayed or affected by the toils and toss of life, because of an unshakable foundation serving as the root of one’s inner self —not in this context a person who lives any way he wants to (killing people, engaging in lustful acts, drug abuse, etc) because this would mean being a slave of some kind of pleasure.
And perfect contentment to be in complete acceptance of what one is assigned to or given by life, whether the circumstance may be being born into a rich or poor family, experiencing failures or successes, having been born with good looks or bad, etc.
Now that we have defined what best is, how can people living in a modern world (not as hermits, as monks, or sages) be free and happy?
Other people say it lies in finding your passion. But sometimes, it feels as if passion is just momentary; maybe because it has never been a permanent, always burning eternal fire kind of matter for me.
When I look at some people, they seem to have found that special something that makes them eager to get up early in the morning, to work through it even if they’ve got dark circles under their eyes even if other people disapprove of them. But it would be insufficient to say this is the only factor because it’s not a common ground for all.
Living your life for others or the well-being of others is an option I considered too. One character who possesses this quality is Sonya from War and Peace. She gave up her love, her time, effort, everything for the sake of her benefactors and someone else’s happiness.
It was noble but in the end, she became only a means of others to treat her as a ‘doormat’ and she could just not extricate herself from that role. At some point living for others stop becoming about attaining happiness and gratitude. Self-sacrifice does not seem to be the answer because sometimes instead of attaining that spiritual freedom, one becomes too attached to giving, that robs him of his happiness in the end. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.
Then is it in not caring? in nonchalance? apathy? True, it would be easy to not be affected by emotions or feelings. The way to make everything not matter anymore. And while it is healthy to not place too much importance on a genuinely trivial thing or opinion, being too disconnected may lead to being unable to sense the beauty that life manifests through nature or people. And how can one find contentment when failing to feel at all? It’s true that nothing matters and everything becomes meaningless in death, but we are living now.
A close answer i found was to live for oneself, not in the selfish greedy way, but in being able to love oneself, and making an effort to care about one’s own body and mind. Placing standards and expectations, having goals, acting toward the goal , etc. I tried this personally by indulging and pampering myself with having goals, and exercising, yoga-ing, eating healthy, and generally nurturing myself with feeling good. I was able to learn to appreciate myself more, but this too turned out to be just a fleeting cause.
If there’s one thing I was not able to try fully, it is in people. Being impacted and making a positive impact on someone’s life. Im not sure if this will work but maybe on my death bed I will be able to think, at least my life made a difference to the future generation after me. Then maybe even at least once before I die this thought may be of consolation of feeling the happiness and freedom that Id been long seeking.