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The Meaning of Life

This article first appeared on PublicHouse.sg.

The author of The Millionaire Messenger, Brendon Burchard, has written about how a near-fatal car accident changed his life. As he was at death’s doorway, three questions flashed through his mind:

Did I live?

Did I love?

Did I even matter?

If today was the last day of your life and you were lying on your deathbed, what would you think about?

Robin Sharma posed five big questions in his book The Greatness Guide in the hopes of causing readers to become more philosophical about what truly counts in their life. He encouraged his readers to think about and to talk about their answers, and to write them in a journal. The questions are:

Did I dream richly?

Did I live fully?

Did I learn to let go?

Did I love well?

Did I tread lightly on the earth and leave it better than I found it?

I am neither an expert trainer like Brendon Burchard, nor a leadership guru like Robin Sharma. However, reading these authors’ books made me revisit some questions I have been asking myself since I was young:

Why am I here?

What am I supposed to be doing?

What is the point of anything?

I asked my mother these questions for the first time when I was probably four years of age. She told me that I would figure these out when I was older. Hence, I was always filled with an urgency to grow up – because things certainly seemed to make a lot more sense to adults.

Before I entered primary school at age five, I asked my mother these questions again. The purpose of my life, apparently, was to get a degree, find a good man, get married, have children, and never to forget to give my mother a monthly allowance for the rest of her life. My educational path was to be this: finish primary school, go on to secondary school, proceed to junior college, and then university for my degree.

Instead, I dropped out of junior college to pursue a diploma in mass communications at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. I started working at 20, met my first husband, got married by 21 and completed my first degree at 23. Although things did not happen in the order originally laid out, I thought I had it good.

Then at 25, I found myself separated from my husband. Without the identity of being a wife, I was reduced to a nobody, or so I thought then. If I wasn’t meant to be somebody’s wife, who was I then? I went through a period of self-discovery and soul-searching to realise that: I cared. I cared deeply about the world, the society we live in, and the people around me. While my colleagues and friends were content with going through the motions of life and the humdrum of work so as to earn their keep, I was not.

I started to look beyond the box that my mother had defined for me as I was growing up. I questioned if what worked for others would work for me. If the world were my oyster, what would I do with it? If I was not afraid, what would I do? As I became engaged in volunteer work, my sense of purpose and joy for life returned. I went on to start and run a non-profit, before finding my true calling as a sexologist.

Where previously I worked in a giant corporation managing marketing communication budgets and generated endless reports, I now work hand in hand with individuals and couples in addressing their sexuality issues. Whilst my communications and public policy degrees taught me to work on macro levels, I work very much on a human scale now – with the person sitting directly across from me. It is humbling work. It is as real as it gets, and I love it. I am making a difference.

At the end of my life, I know I will die happy. To me, making a difference is the whole purpose of my life and gives my life meaning. Indeed, life is what you make of it. Have you found the meaning of your life? Do you make a difference – in the way you want?

If today was the last day of your life and you were lying on your deathbed, what would you think about?

Dr Martha Lee is Founder and Clinical Sexologist of Eros Coaching in Singapore. She is a certified sexologist with American College of Sexologists with a Doctorate in Human Sexuality from Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. She is available to provide sexuality and intimacy coaching for individuals and couples, conduct sexual education workshops and speak at public events in Asia. For more, visit www.eroscoaching.com.

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