What is life?

Niaveli, Sri Lanka


Such a small word with such a massive importance.

Have you ever wondered what life is? What’s important in life? Or how we should live?

I have and here’s my take on these fundamental questions.

What is life?

The way I see life is that it’s the time we’re given to interact with the world. This time we’re given, and that we to some degree can influence, is a gift. And not a small one either.

You being born is somewhat of a miracle, the chance of that happening being one in 10^2,685,000 according to Dr. Ali Binazir.

This reason alone begs the question “How can we spend the time we have interacting with the world in the best way possible? Or said differently…

What’s important in life?

In my opinion spending time in a way that makes us and others feel good without causing harm is the answer to this question.

Feeling good

Feeling good is something we all want. In fact pretty much everything we do is because we want to feel good.

It’s also easy to know if you do feel good. So, right now, stop the analytical part of your brain and feel. What do you feel? Good? Indifferent? Bad? Think about that for a while.

Without causing harm

Unfortunately, we’re not always so good at understanding when and to whom we’re causing harm. The way I see this is that if you hurt the feelings of others, or do things that negatively impacts our planet, then you’re causing harm.

In order to know if you do cause harm, you need to pay attention to how you interact with the world. Better attention provides deeper insight.

Now, tap into your emotional intelligence. How often to you negatively impact the feelings of others? And how frequently do you do things that harm our planet?

Kristina thinking in Ghana

                                 Kristina doing some thinking in Ghana

I know I hurt the feelings of others. I know I’m hurting our planet too.

The fact that I know affects me in two ways. First, it makes me sad as I don’t want to cause any harm. Second, it makes me happy because knowing that I do harm means I’m paying attention. Insight enables change and I want to change.

So, feeling good without causing harm is important. But…

How should we live?

I’ve been thinking about this question for years. It’s been a long journey and I’ve often felt like flying in clouds; wanting to see what’s beyond but left frustrated about not being able to.

That was then. This is now. What’s changed?

I feel like I see more clearly now. I feel I can see through the clouds. Why is a story too long to tell here, but now I have an opinion about how we should live and I feel good about it. What’s my opinion you ask?

I believe life is about making yourself and others feel good without causing harm. Therefore, I think we should spend a considerable amount of time understanding what makes us feel good (what we value), what make others feel good (what they value) and what causes harm to our planet.

The above is the main reason why I believe the four most important things in life are health, relationships, positive self-view and values & dreams.

Understanding what makes us feel good, what make others feel good and what causes harm to our planet isn’t a one-off action that you do. Insight is gained through an iterative process of reflection.

Reflect, adjust your beliefs, adjust your behaviour, perceive what happens and then reflect some more.

Take a moment to think about what would happen if we all started to reflect in this manner.

Think about how good we could make ourselves feel.

Think about how good we could make others feel.

And think about how well we could treat out planet!

Sunset Sri Lanka

                                  Sunset in Sri Lanka

Life is simple

Call me crazy but I think life is simple. Although it’s definitely true that things in our lives can be very hard to deal with sometimes, life in itself isn’t difficult.

Life is simply the time we’re given to interact with this beautiful world.

Spending this time wisely is of great importance. After all, the fact that we’re alive is a miracle, about one in 10^2,685,000, and we all know we’re going to run out of time sooner rather than later (more likely later if you take care of your health).

We might as well make the most of our time here! :-)



7 thoughts on “What is life?

  1. Tamam

    To sum up life in less than 1,000,000 words may not be sufficient, but you’ve eloquently elucidated a good portion of it with great perspective and understanding. It is the time we have here. But for me, what’s important in life is happiness. This happiness comes in many forms for many people in many ways, but the most satisfying form of happiness is that which comes from within. This I believe can be contributed largely to maintaining a positive view on life and remaining at peace with ourselves. Good habits also contribute (health being the biggest), but mostly, as Gandhi once said ‘’Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.’’

    1. Bjarte Bakke

      Thanks for your insightful comment Tamam. I agree happiness, or feeling good, is very important. I also like your point “the most satisfying form of happiness is what comes from within“. Having a positive view of self is key. I believe focusing on health, relationships, self-view and values & dreams will increase the amount of good feelings we have in our lives and reduce the amount of harm that we do.

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  4. Terry Shen

    Great post, Bjarte. It is plainly written with profound insights. Especially your point on “life is about making yourself and others feel good without causing harm.” Something that is worth reminding over and over. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Yarnell Cunningham

    Thanks, this really hit home where as I was recently asking myself most of the questions you spoke of in your writing. The feeling guilty about hurting others feelings and the planet really touched me. Thank you for sharing.


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