What’s the Meaning of Life?

I’ve become a big fan of Tim Ferriss. He’s got a lot of interesting things to say, and his book The 4-Hour Workweek has significantly influenced me.

Though I don’t know if he’s a Christian, he has a lot to say about fully living life. For example, here he’s talking about trying to answer the big questions such as “What is the meaning of life?” or “What is the point of it all?”:

I am 100% convinced that most big questions we feel compelled to face – handed down through centuries of over thinking and mistranslation- use terms so undefined as to make attempting to answer them a complete waste of time. (There is a place for koans and rhetorical meditative questions, but these tools are optional and outside the scope of this book. Most questions without answers are just poorly worded.) This isn’t depressing. It’s liberating.

Before spending time on a stress-inducing question, big or otherwise, ensure that the answer is “yes” to the following two questions:

1. Have I decided on a single meaning for each term in the question?

2. Can an answer to this question be acted upon to improve things?

“What is the meaning of life?” fails the first and thus the second. Questions about things beyond your sphere of influence like “What if the train is late tomorrow?” fail the second and should thus be ignored. These are not worthwhile questions. If you can’t define it or act upon it, forget it. If you take just this point from this book, it will put you in the top 1% of performers in the world and keep most philosophical distress out of your life.

Sharpening your logical and practical mental toolbox is not being an atheist or unspiritual. It’s not being crass and it’s not being superficial. It’s being smart and putting your effort where it can make the biggest difference for yourself and others.

— from The 4-Hour Workweek, p. 268-269

This is related to a recent post of mine where I try to make the point that if you can’t do anything about something, don’t worry about it.

Of course, I do believe there is an answer to the question “What’s the meaning of life?” and it is to devote that life to God – learning what he has to say to me, and then adhering to that to the best of my ability. Some of you out there will disagree about that, and that’s fine. But whether or not you are devoting your life to God’s service, I think Tim’s advice is valuable.


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