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The true purpose of life

Opinion

By Alain Mpenzi

For The Advocate

Life is the condition that distinguishes animals and plants and inorganic matter including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activities and continual changes preceding death.

Well, that makes total sense of how life is described. However, according to my perspective, I define life as being all about what you have, but mostly about all you do with it. It is light sometimes and also dark. The more you look, the less you see.

For a long time I believed that there was only one purpose to life, and that was to be happy. I had so many questions whispering in my ears.

Why do you think we go through all the pain and hardships?

Is it to achieve happiness in the same way people are pursuing happiness in their lives?

Is that why we collectively buy a shirt we don’t like? Or buy a car we don’t like only to get approval from people we don’t like?

Why do you think we do all this? I think it is to do with history, culture, medicine, economy, psychology, politics and information.

People do everything to chase happiness. For instance you can buy something and you think that makes you happy. You go on holidays and think that makes you happy. You hang out with friends and think that makes you happy. But — at the end of the day — you’re sitting on your bed thinking what’s next in this endless pursuit of happiness? I’ll tell you what’s next, chasing some other random thing that you believe will make you happy.

Aristotle said, “Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and the end of human existence.” I think we need to look at this quote from a different angle, because when you recall it, you think that happiness is the aim or main goal of life. I just can’t believe that happiness is merely a by-product of usefulness.

The things we do in life are just activities and experiences: you go out, you go on vacation, you get drunk. Those things should make you happy, right? But they are not useful.

You are not creating anything, you are just consuming.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to go out or go shopping sometimes but, to be honest, it’s not what gives meaning to life.

What really makes people happy is when they are useful. And when you begin to treat everyone as equal, regardless of the colour of skin, religion and tribe.

To be compassionate, useful and honourable is the true purpose of life.