Thoughts from Dr. Joe: What makes life significant?

November 25, 2010|By Joe Puglia

Do you ever think about what makes life significant? I do. There's no other philosophical inquiry examined more than the meaning of life.

This semester I've been blessed with a bright group of students. Because of their intuitiveness I've ratcheted up the intellectual content of my lectures. Throughout the semester I've exposed them to the great thinkers, studying their perspectives on the meaning of life. We've examined the thoughts of the Buddha, William James, Kipling, Native Americans, Joseph Campbell and many others.

However, I was more interested in understanding my students' ideas. "Give me a detailed paper explaining your thoughts on what makes life significant," I said.


Their work was excellent. Instead of pulling from the great thinkers we can heed the thoughts of my students. Emerson said, "Do not seek outside yourself." Maybe we should listen to him.

Nathalie Halajian wrote, "Significance is found in paying attention to what surrounds us. We don't have to look too far to find meaning. Life must be embraced and requires a connection and to do that we naturally stop and smell the roses." Similarly, Grace Shirvani advised us to look outside ourselves, for meaning lies within the little things of life.

My students were fixated on a common debilitating theme, Fear of failure. Hasmik Manukyan expressed, "Significance is found in not being afraid to take risks and that the good, bad and ugly are a part of life and should not be avoided."

Likewise Tayra Quinones commented, "Meaning is found in our ability to overcome our demons to face life head-on and not shriek from adversity."

George Skriabin sealed this argument by commenting, "Nobody should be afraid to take that leap of faith just because they do not know how the outcome will turn out.

I analyzed each essay and sensed that my students saw the significance of life similarly to the Buddha. Accordingly, life has no inherent meaning. It is us who initiates the significance of life.

Sousanna Pogosyan tells us, "Not to wait for life to come to us, but with courage and initiative life leads us down a path of unexpected opportunities." Annelisse Montes advises, "Do not to wait for another to make your life significant but instead find your own personal meaning every day and every moment."

One of the most persuasive means toward significance evolves from love. Loving someone is the tonic that binds civilization. "The universe functions on the concept of love," Hayarpi Nersisyan wrote.

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