Having a conversation with my friends back in the University, I must have been in my third year, the argument ensued about what we thought was the purpose of existence. As Philosophy students, we were taught to always think outside the box, questioning everything. So I thought it would be a good research work to try to summarize in my own understand what I think is The Essence of Life.
The Essence of Life is my second book, written in 2005 and published in 2007 by CSS Bookshops. Because the stress and strain of modern day living leaves many lost in a rat race, The Essence of Life provides salient captions to human existence. It questions and reflects on prominent issues to help us achieve success in every sphere of life. Questions such as:
- What is life?
- What is success?
- What is happiness?
- What is love?
- What is the most important thing in life?
In The Essence of Life, I defined life as the ‘characteristic activities of all living things – plants and animals’. Except there is reproduction and metabolism which are the two major categories of all forms of living things, life will not be sustainable. There are a few versions of origin of life and sources of life. There is the replication of molecules from the Darwinian Theory. This is the notion that there are some external sources of energy which powered life on earth. Then we have the Exobiologists who believe that life came to be by evolution and distribution of life forms on earth. My favorite characteristic of the human life which I would like to resonate at this juncture is ‘though the human life as fairytale-like as most of us would wish it, is as real as the cash one can hold in one’s hand’. In our ever evolving world, it is very necessary to engage and inform the growing generation of the reality of this distinctive part of the human life. This on-set realization to life is what I termed the ‘authentic life’. An authentic existence is a life lived in a way one has chosen to live, irrespective of any external influence. This form of existence can begin only when we realize and thoroughly understand what and who we are. Once we have that understanding, our concern from the world that compels us to do things as other people do, will be replaced by our authentic concern to fulfill our real potential in the world. The authentic life is the life in which whatever we do, we are ready to take responsibility for it and stand by our choices. An individual’s choice should be genuinely his. He makes them, knowing full well that he is free yet liable to the consequences of his actions. Our actions can either make or break us. So what is relation between life and success?
The dictionary defines success as ‘something which happens as a consequence’, ‘the achievement of one’s aim or goal’. This in itself does not give the formula for success. Herbert Bayard Swope said, “I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure which is: try to please everybody”. This refers us back to the authentic living. It is only in this that we derive our being, our purpose and are able to work towards an achievement of goal(s). It is of greater importance to create a realistic plan for success if one truly wants to succeed in life. The safest way to do this is by taking successive steps and gradually increasing your chances of reaching your ideal. Taking steps, one at a time and keeping your plan realistic gives you two important benefits – the confidence that comes with the order and precision of having a plan and, having a sound plan has its psychological benefits and your subconscious mind worries less, giving you more energy to concentrate on what is important. Liberating oneself from all these external forces which does not encourage success is to empower oneself. People may offer to help you achieve your goal(s); however, it is only you who have the authority to give yourself into putting your plan(s) into action. Hence, empowerment has become of importance on the road to success. Empowering yourself to know your stance, empowering yourself to be motivated, empowering yourself to take responsibility for your set goals, empowering yourself to succeed – all these are part of self-empowerment which gives the confidence no one will ever be able to take away from you. In The Essence of Life, I stated a few keys to success –
- Be open to change and new ideas:
Note, at this point, that the only influence to tolerate at this point of your success is the positive changes – rolling with the times, being savvier in your area of discipline, adopting only the positive in your ideas. A successful person, in the society, becomes a role model. A role model is recipe for a good leader and a good leader leads first, by example.
I’d like to share the video below to inspire and motivate someone today and re-orient our mindset:
However, there has been a common fallacy that a successful man is a happy man. Does success equate to happiness or is it happiness that leads to success? In this part of the world, a layman would respond by saying, ‘when I get successful and I begin to receive the bank alerts, then I will be happy’. But What is Happiness? I defined happiness as ‘a state of joy, pleasure, goodness or satisfaction. The dictionary defines it as ‘the emotion of being happy; joy // good luck, good fortune, prosperity // fortuitous elegance, unstudied grace’. Emotion, luck, fortune, prosperity, elegance, grace, happiness. It is of my opinion that happiness is not a destination. It’s a journey. It’s a conviction of good fortune no matter the condition. Once this conviction is in place, you find that nothing and no one can make you feel less graceful than you are. Nothing and no one can take your conviction of prosperity away. It starts with faith, you own it, you believe it, you speak it and it works for you. It’s not spiritual, it’s not religious. It’s your conviction. Happiness, from the definition given, is a mental state, an emotion, a psyche that transcends beyond your immediate circumstance, it works surpassing your immediate limitation to help you speedily overcome the hurdles and get back on track – the track of your joy/prosperity. Now, prosperity is an all-round bracket encompassing your health, your state of mind, your well-being, your affluence. Success does not translate to good health, success does not translate to well-being, and success does not in all cases translate to money. If money and success has become your yardstick for happiness, then you’ve got it all wrong. You need to begin to re-orient your psyche and settle in a mental state that makes every other thing work for good for you. One of the favorite slogans I’ve heard this year is “joy will take you further’. Further to where you desire to be. It’s not the money, it’s not the success. It’s in your state of mind. Otherwise, each level of success you attain will leave you wanting more and then your life becomes a rat race. Let happiness be your determining factor to your outlook to life.
It is impossible to talk of life and being, success and happiness without making reference to love. There’s no story more satisfying than a love story. All of us have a store of such stories gleaned by tales told to us by grandmothers and mothers, from books, overheard on the road, or experienced firsthand. You can call it first-aid for the soul, for often, it is this that gives us the strength to carry on against all odds, to inject fresh energy, determination and hope into the enterprise of living. After all love, they say, makes the world go round. So what is Love? What does it mean and how does it impart on life as a fulfilled being? Love may have more definitions than any other word and may have more words written about it than any other theme. Love can be said to be everything or nothing. Love is God, a sacrifice, a feeling, a decision, blind manipulation or even patriotism. In Philosophy, altruism is regarded as the devotion to the welfare of others. This, too, is a form of love. The importance of love in this piece of work is to examine the role of relationship, interdependency and trust as a binding force in the human life force for an excellent positive effect. As humans, what keeps us in our interactions is the binding force of morality. Morality can be a body of standards or principles derived from a code of conduct from a particular philosophy, religion, or culture, or it can derive from a standard that a person believes should be universal. Morality may also be specifically synonymous with “goodness” or “rightness.” This keeps us on a pedestal for which we base our interaction with each other. We might agree that the world needs more love and trust because we rationalize that our problems stem from others, not ourselves, and that they are the ones who make life so difficult for us. When in fact, if we look closely, we will realize and appreciate the importance of people to our sane existence.
Now, how do we categorize what’s important in life and what isn’t? This anticipation brings us to the final chapter of this book which I titled ‘The most important thing in life’. While success may be paramount for most people and happiness for the selective few, or perhaps love means everything for others, it all boils down to what we are able to use this potential to achieve in our lifetime. Life, in itself, is a space a time. It has a beginning and an ending, if you want to examine it in itself span. The Creator has purposed something(s) for each life form and the onus to fulfill these obligations is what I termed The Essence of Life. To me, as stated in this piece of research work, The Essence of Life is my service to humanity in a way that leaves positive impacts even to generations to come.
This book has been set as a template for the reforming of your mind to realize and achieve the essence of your life.