What Gives Meaning to Your Life?
KENNY had a job with a top brokerage firm, drove an expensive foreign car, and owned a penthouse in an affluent area of a major city. As a master skydiver, he enjoyed the thrill of plummeting from thousands of feet above the ground. A full life? According to The Wall Street Journal, he said: “Here I am, 45 years old, and my life isn’t going anyplace . . . My life is empty.”
Elyn worked hard to become an accomplished ice skater. She finally made it to the top. Elyn had the fame she wanted. “But where was all the happiness that I was supposed to feel?” she lamented. “I just felt terribly lonely. Old age would eventually catch up with me and, although I was financially secure, life would be pretty empty if this was all there was to living.”
Known for his skillful use of colors, Hideo lived for his artistic achievements. He did not sell his works of art; he thought that to do so would compromise his artistic integrity. Toward the end of his life of 98 years, he donated most of his artwork to a museum. He devoted his life to artistic pursuits. Yet, he was not satisfied, thinking that it would take him forever to perfect his art.
Some people become very much involved in helping others. Take, for example, one film executive in Hollywood. As a vice president of one of the biggest film companies in the United States, he mingled with celebrities and lived in an exclusive residential area. When he visited Cambodia on vacation, a girl came up to him begging for money as he dined at a café in Phnom Penh. He gave her a dollar and a soft drink. The girl was pleased. However, the following night she was there again, still begging. He saw that more than superficial help was needed.
A year later, this executive decided to make a career change—from working for the entertainment industry to helping the poor in Cambodia. He established a school that provides housing, meals, and education. Yet, he lives in a permanent state of conflicting emotions—delight and satisfaction with what he is accomplishing along with despair and frustration because of the mounting problems with which he must deal.
All four individuals just mentioned thought that they knew what they were living for. Still, they felt empty when they finally reached the goal they had worked hard to achieve. What are you living for? What comes first in your life? Are you sure that you will not later regret the way you are living your life?