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The meaning of life..........

(71 Posts)
Mishap Wed 05-Nov-14 11:07:36

Being unwell at the moment and having to cancel so much of what I normally do has thrown up an interesting thought for discussion. I have always instinctively felt that life only has a point if I am being useful.

I spent a large amount of my life as a social worker, then moved over to working in the arts with a focus on disadvantaged groups. When I am well I am a school governor, I run the village library and book group, I run a community choir and do not charge for it, I do a lot of child care for my GC etc. etc.

I am not trying to blow my own trumpet here, as I am beginning to wonder whether this approach to life is in fact healthy. It is almost as if I do not think that I have the right to just enjoy myself.

I am being forced to sit back and let others do things for me and I find it quite uncomfortable and it is requiring some adjustment on my part.

Do others feel the same?

Is the meaning of life to be useful to others?..........discuss!

soontobe Wed 05-Nov-14 11:10:46

We have to be kind to ourselves as well.

FarNorth Wed 05-Nov-14 11:13:24

It is great to be useful to others, when you can, and to let others help you when you need it. As you will know, being the helper can give a rewarding feeling so when you are the one receiving help, you are letting others experience that feeling.
Relax and enjoy it!

soontobe Wed 05-Nov-14 11:15:43

I could give you a whole bigger post as you have put this question on the philosphy board.
The meaning of life stuff can be very wrapped up in what religion a person believes, if any.

But I think the fundamentals of most religions believe in being kind to others as well as yourself.

pompa Wed 05-Nov-14 11:29:48

You and I are so alike.

I need to feel I am useful, I get so frustrated if I can't do the things my friends and family should expect of me.
eg. For 6 weeks I have been unable to drive, which means it is difficult or impossible for my wife to attend some of the various groups she is involved in. She has also had to do some of the work in the garden which would normally have been my role.

However we should be able accept the help of others whilst we are incapacitated without feeling guilty, but it is not easy.

I would like to think that if the boot were on the other foot, I would step up to the plate (not sure about the cooking thinky though)

merlotgran Wed 05-Nov-14 11:32:13

I have similar feelings, Mishap I have spent most of my life in a supporting role. DH's career, bringing up the family, supporting my mother and always being the one who catered for large family events, keeping everyone together (we had the biggest house in those days)

During all this I started my own catering business which grew to the point that during the nineties we were running our own pub/restaurant as well as a production kitchen supplying other pubs and catering for functions. We also bought the property we now live in so I threw myself into renovating and decorating it.

When we sold the business I felt a 'need' to be of use by passing on my skills so trained to teach food and nutrition/technology.

Becoming a grandparent was a joy but it meant endless hours wearing grooves in various motorways or, in the early days, jumping on a plane to Northern Ireland. I didn't question any of it. If I wasn't being of use to somebody I would have definitely felt a lesser person.

I look back now and wonder if I should have put myself first occasionally. When DH had a stroke I had to take on even more and a good friend said, 'I wouldn't do it. I wouldn't care what people think. What about your life?'

But that was my life. Nobody forced it on me. I do however feel that at the age of 67 I will be of more use to others by taking care of my health and not burdening them with my problems. I am happy to sit back because I feel I have done my 'bit' but nothing is nicer than feeling needed and appreciated so I always jump to it when asked. I've come to the conclusion that satisfaction and contentment is something you may never be sure you have achieved.

MiceElf Wed 05-Nov-14 13:22:20

I think so many of us have led busy and active lives and have seen ourselves as being validated by what we do for others. And I think that's a good thing in many ways.

However, looking back on my father and my MiL I know who gave us all the most joy. MiL was the sort of person who would give away her last ha'penny and do anything for anyone - to the point of it being irritating. The sentence 'Don't you worry about me ....' And 'It's all right, I didn't want it / to go / ...anyway'. But the worst was her refusal to accept anything at all with any graciousness be it help, presents, or whatever.

Whereas my father was wonderful. A very kind and generous man himself, he loved being treated especially trips out, holidays and indeed anything he was given.

Looking back I think the greatest gift he gave everyone was accepting things. Certainly we loved treating him and although we thought we were giving to him, as we were, he was giving so much to us, by his enjoyment and appreciation.

So, I think that's something for us to aim for as we get older. We're still giving and being useful, but in a different way.

gillybob Wed 05-Nov-14 13:28:51

I know what you mean about being useful to others Mishap but sometimes I think the "others" must look at me and see MUG written all over my face. It would be nice to do the things you want to do rather than the things you know you should must do.

feetlebaum Wed 05-Nov-14 14:14:20

@soontobe - the Golden Rule - proclaimed by all religions and non religions - certainly not limited to religions or the religious.

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 05-Nov-14 14:35:01

It's whatever lights yer candle. It can't be a 'one size fits all thing'.

Do what makes you feel good.

No one else really cares in the long run. There will always be other do-gooders to step into your shoes. Loads of them about.

Mishap Wed 05-Nov-14 15:07:47

"Do-gooders" - ouch!

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 05-Nov-14 15:08:36

Yes. That was a really miserable post. Sorry.

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 05-Nov-14 15:22:14

I hope you are soon fit as a fiddle again Mishap. People will be missing you. Only take on what you feel up to though. [ flowers]

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 05-Nov-14 15:23:24

Sigh! flowers

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 05-Nov-14 15:23:44

That's better

pompa Wed 05-Nov-14 15:39:44

I don't agree that there are loads of people willing to step up to the plate and help out, just try getting people to stand on any group committee. OK if we were not there, life would go on, no one is indispensable, but they would be missed.

Also, it gives one a reason for life to help others, we are a social animal and rely on others, otherwise you might as well be a recluse.

Mishap, I'm sure you will be missed by your friends, but they will understand and support you and be very welcoming when you are up to taking up the reigns again.

janerowena Wed 05-Nov-14 15:50:07

Life is tough for most people. If we can help to ease that for others, whilst not making it too hard on ourselves, I think that is a good balance. I have a very good friend who is a total doormat. I've only just realised that she loves being indispensable really. I don't think that she believes she exists unless she is wanted and needed.

I have no such worries!

merlotgran Wed 05-Nov-14 16:22:46

That's a good point, janer, martyrs are a pain. I like being wanted and needed but heaven help anyone who thinks I'd be a useful doormat. grin

rosequartz Wed 05-Nov-14 16:45:41

Many philosophers think they know the answer to that question, Mishap, but I wouldn't claim to have worked it out yet.

I would say that your life has great meaning because while you are unable to carry out all those things you normally do to help others there will be a void.
You are going through another learning curve at the moment - that of finding the graciousness to accept the love and help that other people are offering you now that you are unwell.

(well, that does sound pompous now I re-read it grin)

In other words, just enjoy it while it lasts, they'll all be asking when you are ready to take the reins soon enough. Get well soon - then give yourself a bit longer still before you start helping others!

pompa Wed 05-Nov-14 16:50:58

I knew Reigns was wrong !

rosequartz Wed 05-Nov-14 16:55:04

Queen Mishap - taking up her reign again soon!

janerowena Thu 06-Nov-14 20:17:35

I think, being female, we are brainwashed into being helpful and being useful from dawn to dusk from a very young age. While the boys kick a ball around on the lawn after tea, the girls are washing up and think they are being treated as grownup. They don't realise that they are being conned.

pompa Fri 07-Nov-14 10:18:55

Now where did I leave that violin ?

soontobe Fri 07-Nov-14 10:19:58

Older women on the whole seem to enjoy chores. No idea why.

merlotgran Fri 07-Nov-14 10:26:40

This older woman hates chores.

Because I'm worth it wink