I have spent what free time I’ve had over the last year thinking carefully about my personal philosophy, with the goal being to develop an initial framework for what I want to accomplish in my life. This bout of philosophizing was inspired by the words of Clayton M. Christensen, all of who’s writings I recommend, especially this article.
“Think about the metric by which your life will be judged,
and make a resolution to live every day so that in the end,
your life will be judged a success.” ~ Clayton M. Christensen
As an adult each person is first and foremost responsible for themselves. Their own health, safety, and personal freedom is their priority. Some struggle their entire lives without achieving these things, while others have them tied to the silver spoon they were given at birth. Life is not fair, but let us set that aside for now.
If those things, the basic human essentials, can be acquired though, the question becomes “What next?”. At this point the acquisition of ever greater comforts is no longer of any benefit. We have many different sayings which apply here. “You can’t take it with you.” is perhaps the most direct. Rather than chase faster cars, more expensive clothes or better food this is an opportunity to for a person to take a step back and see how else they might add value to the world.
In order to answer this question I will need to state two of my personal beliefs. Like all beliefs they are things which I hold to be true without a great body of evidence to back them up.
Human life is worth preserving and although our future as a species is unknown, it will be bright
A single person can make a meaningful impact on that future
Between these two beliefs I believe on can define a metric for measuring the value created during ones life. While it might not be simple, or even possible, to evaluate that metric is:
I will measure my life by the positive impact I have had on humanities likelihood to survive the next 2000 years
This certainly does not stand by its own. I also believe that in order to make such an impact there are two things which you must first address or risk simply being a burden on humanity or having a negative impact. Namely:
Be responsible for your own life, your safety, your health, and your happiness
Form loving relationships with other people, and treat them as you believe they wish to be treated
If something, like illness or divorce, effects either of those two responsibilities they should take priority.
But let us say you have those two in the bag. What then?
Personally I see three broad ways to contribute to humanities potential to survive.
Ensuring that every human has access to food, shelter, and education in a way that makes sure the same access will be available to future generations.
Bringing new people into the world
Designing the future for which humanity as a whole can aim after every person on the planet is provided for.
The order I have listed these tasks in reflects the order in which I currently believe I will turn my attention to them. How, exactly? That is a question for another time.