Many of us, at some stage or another, have contemplated the meaning of life.
Some engage in philosophical theory. Others simply sit and ponder where their place is in the world in which we live in, what legacy they will leave and how to do something with their lives that will go on to have a rippling effect on those that succeed them.
And then there is Stephen. Who explains the whole thing in a concise but comprehensive three minutes for the British Humanist Association.
“Some people think that there should be a single meaning of life,” he begins in the animated short, which you can watch below.
“They think that the universe was created for a purpose and that human beings were part of some larger cosmic plan. They think our meaning comes from being part of this plan, and is written into the universe, waiting to be discovered.
“The humanist view of the meaning of life is different. Humanists do not see that there is any obvious purpose to the universe, but that it is a natural phenomenon with no design behind it. Meaning is not something out there, waiting to be discovered, but something we create in our own lives.”
“And although this vast and incredibly old universe was not created for us, all of us are connected to something bigger than ourselves, whether it is family and community, a tradition stretching in the past, an idea or cause looking forward to the future, or the beautiful natural world on which we were born and our species evolved.
“This way of thinking means that there is not just one big meaning of life, but that every person will have many different meanings in their life.”
He goes on to detail what makes us unique, how we form our personalities based on natural, environment and circumstantial factors, and how that affects the meaning we place in our lives.
And then he tells us the ultimate secret: how to be happy. And the answer is far simpler than you could possibly imagine. No mean feat, for a man whose life-long battle with depression has been so all-consuming. Watch the video to find out.