The creative and innovative industry is one of the major bedrocks of the economic development and civilization of the advanced world. It involves all those human activities that bring into form out of nothing, through imagination, design and production. It creates investments that sustains humanity, keeps it gainfully employed and assures the continuous development of the world.
Meaningful living on the other hand, is about deriving happiness from helping the vulnerable people in society. It is a lifestyle. It is about helping the helpless members of society. It involves living the life of giving,planting seeds for trees that will someday give shade to people that we may never meet. It is a lifestyle of deriving happiness from promoting the welfare of others by providing succour to the needy to better their lives.
CONSIDERATION OF SOME LANDMARK FACTS OF LIFE.
For a start, let me share some interesting statistical fact of life with you. The land mark expected life span of man is 70 years. This amounts to only 25,568 days. If one lives up to 80years, it would total only 29,220 days on earth.
For the very few that live up to 90years, they will only enjoy living for 32,873 days on earth. Even those who may live over 100 years, will never make 50,000 days on earth. This is a reminder of the limits to the futility in man’s relentless and endless search for the accumulation of wealth without giving and connecting with the basic humanity of society.
Most of us focus solely on things that have to do with material wealth, such as having cars, building and buying properties, buying jewelries and other selfish illusions of life that are generally, not meaningful to the real essence of living.
An inspiration for meaningful living can be drawn from a quote of Winston Churchill (1874-1965): “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Hence it can be safely stated that, those whose vision about life is influenced by the philosophy of the existential futility of man’s accumulative tendency, are generally driven by the awareness that happiness in life does not result from what we get but what we give to others.
Indeed, giving instead of receiving in life’s pursuits has been identified by philosophers, to be a major ingredient for living a meaningful life. The Chinese philosopher Confucius (551BC – 479BC) was the first philosopher to state that; “He who wished to secure the good of others, has already secured his own.”
A life of devotion to charity is a veritable means of living a meaningful life as widely accepted by positive psychologists.
POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGISTS AND MEANINGFUL LIVING.
Positive psychology is the field of social studies that engages in expanding the virtues of meaningful living. Some researchers in this field have differentiated the difference between living a meaningful life and living a happy one. The result of such various researches suggest that, there is more to life than happiness.
Roy Baumeister, a Francis Eppes Professor of Psychology at the Florida State University, USA, published a paper in the Journal of Positive Psychology, co-authored with some other researchers at the University of Minnesota and Stanford, USA, which extensively espoused, that, “A happy life, is significantly different from a meaningful life”.
In their research study, they surveyed 397 adults, towards looking out for the correlation between people’s levels of happiness, meaningfulness, and other various aspects of life, including behavior, moods, relationships, health, stress levels, working lives, creative pursuits, and more.
Their findings reveal that meaningful life is separate from a life of happiness. Meaningful life, is not connected with whether one is healthy, or has abundant wealth, or feels comfortable in life. It goes far beyond these.
From their research, they identified some major differences between living a happy life as against meaningful life, among which are the following:
1. Happy people tend to satisfy their wants and needs, but these seem largely irrelevant to living a meaningful life.
2. Happiness involves focusing on the present, whereas meaningfulness of life, involves thinking more about the past, present, and future—and the relationship between them.
3. Happiness was seen as fleeting, while meaningful living seemed to last longer.
4. Meaningfulness of life is derived from giving to other people, whereas happiness comes from what is received.
FEELING GOOD THROUGH MEANINGFUL LIVING BY “DOING GOOD”.
Meaningful living is enjoined in the holy books, as contained in the Koran (2: 261), that,“Those who bestow their wealth in the way of God are like the grain of corn that sprouts seven ears, a hundred grains in every ear. So God multiplies for those whom he will.”
The Bible also emphasizes same in the words of Apostle Paul, as contained in 1Corinthians 13:13, that, “And now abidethfaith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity”.
In general, philosophers and historians are in agreement in their emphasis that money cannot buy happiness, and various researches conducted by positive psychologists, also bear this out.
Researchers in positive Psychology have found that working on something philanthropic has a deeper and more lasting effect on wellbeing than the pursuit of pleasure, profit or wealth.
Professor Martin Seligman, the father of positive-psychology and professor at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, USA, has established a strong correlation between doing good and feeling good.
In class assignments, he got students to engage in fun, such as watching movies with friends, or volunteering to help others. The students invariably found putting the needs of others before their own, was more profoundly satisfying than fun seeking.
He found that, “Eventually, you need to find a way to use your strength for something beyond yourself or you wind up doing what is called ‘fidgeting unto death,”.
QUALITIES OF LIVING MEANINGFULLY
Generally, giving may not necessarily come from the heart, as there are many wrong reasons for giving. People give for economic reasons or for increasing the public image of their firms or to enhance their political chance amidst other reasons. Giving also doesn’t have to be monetary.
People living meaningfully, are however, those who selflessly donate to the needy and are who:
· Give whole-heartedly, are willing, cheerful and are free givers.
· Do not give for publicity or economical reasons.
· Render help by looking to tackle the main root of receiver’s problems.
· Give as more as they earn; are sacrificial givers.
· Have caring hearts, always willing to help.
· Do not expect anything from the receivers in return.
· Give with all humility, without pride.
· Are never too poor to give, even if they do not have the monetary resources.
. Show concern and invest valuable time into the cause of charity.
· Desire to Give High-Quality Gifts; always want their gifts to last.
· Save well, invest extra effort in saving money and are resourceful with what they have.
· Encourage people to give.
· Have the ability to discern wise investments.
· Use their assets of time, money, and possessions effectively to advance their good and selfless works to society.
· Are energetic, optimistic, have the ability to lead and trust more than most people do.
A PEEP INTO THE LAST MOMENTS OF A GLOBAL CREATIVE MIND ON MEANINGFUL LIVING
At this stage, please let me share with you, the Last Words of Steve Job on his death bed…
“I reached the pinnacle of success in the business world. In others’ eyes, my life is an epitome of success. However, aside from work, I have little joy. In the end, wealth is only a fact of life that I am accustomed to.
At this moment, lying on the sick bed and recalling my whole life, I realize that all the recognition and wealth that I took so much pride in, have paled and become meaningless in the face of impending death.
In the darkness, I look at the green lights from life supporting machines and hear humming mechanical sounds, I can feel the breath of god of death drawing closer…….Now I know, when we have accumulated sufficient wealth to last our lifetime, we should pursue other matters that are unrelated to wealth……. The wealth I have won in my life I cannot bring with me.
What I can bring is only the memories precipitated by love……. Material things lost can be found. But there is one thing that can never be found when it is lost – Life. When a person goes into the operating room, he will realize that there is one book that he has yet to finish reading –the Book of Healthy Life……”
Please let us substitute his book of healthy life for, the book of meaningful living.
“Treat yourself well. Cherish others”.
OTHER CONTRIBUTORS TO THE IMPORTANCE OF MEANINGFUL LIVING
The parting message from Steve Jobs is confirmed by many other thinkers including, but not limited to, the poet Maya Angelou (1928-2014) who stated that; ” I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.”
In practice, the lifestyle of meaningful living, involves creating room from limitedmeans for giving to those who do not have, empathizing with the poor, under privileged and the physically handicapped of this world. In doing these we will be leaving a rich legacy behind, of selflessness, philanthropism (in whichever way one is best suited) and making meaningful contributions to our immediate community, society and the world.
We will be selflessly making a difference to the lives of those in want, in our society. This enjoinment agrees with man’s spiritual essence as captured by Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) to the effect that; “Every charitable act is a stepping stone towards heaven”.
In conclusion, I enjoin you all, to continue to give your selfless but valuable contributions to our society. The importance of your charitable work is confirmed by Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973) to the effect that; “The test of a civilization is in the way that it cares for its helpless members.”
However, I cannot leave here with satisfaction, without mentioning a major flaw in our charitable attitude as a people to the problems of helplessness and natural disasters that occur outside our immediate environment. A case in point is the recent devastations inflicted on Haiti by hurricane Mathew.
We did not read nor were we informed of any religious or charitable organization in Africa or any of its governments, about extending help to the Haitians. Whereas, the government and the people of the United State of America, even though also devastated by the same hurricane , promptly dispatched food, water, shelter and clothing to the victims of the hurricane.
This nature of selflessness in Africans, was also lacking during the hay days of Ebola crises in Liberia and Sierra Leone. It was mostly volunteers from the western world that risked their lives for the survival of the Ebola victims in the affected African countries.
Rather, we Africans, our institutions and governments, only concentrated on protecting our boarders and people from the spread of the Ebola virus to our individual countries.
We need to gain some wisdom, from the words of the American senator -Robert F. Kennedy (1925-1968) when he stated that; “Let no one be discouraged by the belief that there is nothing one person can do against the enormous array of world’s ills, misery, ignorance, and violence.
Few will have the greatness to bend history, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. And in the total of all those acts, will be written the history of a generation.”
Indeed this message is equally captured in the words of Martin Luther King Jnr (1929-1968) as follows; “Life’s persistent and most urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?”
I thank you all for honoring me with your invitation.
Prince Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon D.Litt
Founder / CEO
Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation (OYASAF)