“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.” – Bruce Lee
Happiness, purpose, and fulfillment is not one size fits all. There is too much variety among us as human beings to identify one definition of a good life or a life well-lived. Many pursue wealth and reputation as a means to attain happiness; others pursue moral and ethical development as another path to attain happiness and equanimity. So, in a manner to some degree all of us seek happiness as the final aim to living. Therefore, perhaps the manner in which to live is to avoid interfering with others’ choices in their conclusions over purpose and happiness, which is not to say to cease discussing and asking what makes a good life. Rather, choose open-mindedness, acceptance, and forgiveness. Open-mindedness is for making the effort in viewing others’ opinions and beliefs from their perspective. Acceptance is for making the effort in not dismissing a human being because they hold a differing opinion or belief. Forgiveness is for making the effort to master one’s emotions, thoughts, and actions, when another’s opinions or beliefs trespass our own.
Furthermore, our individual neutral points on any subject differentiate as well. For example, take virtue as a whole and bravery as a part. What is perceived as extreme courage for one may represent another’s perception of the same scenario as either normal (neutral point) or not very courageous. In other words in relation to the example, there exists a continuum of what constitutes a certain virtuous trait. For the sake of argument if a person starts at 75 as his neutral point or median on the spectrum of bravery where 0 is embodying none and 100 embodying extreme courage, then the same person would have different opinions on the topic of bravery against someone who has a neutral point of 35. The former will perceive and recognize only very courageous acts, whereas the latter will perceive and recognize many more acts as courageous.
Remember, nothing ever remains static. Everything is in constant motion and undergoing change. For instance, whether a person is 25 or 75 years of age both are acquiring physical features of aging with every day that passes. Our skin does not wrinkle overnight, rather it changes gradually. The people with neutral points of 75 and 35 on the spectrum of bravery can change and move their neutral points either higher or lower based on the experiences they live as they grow older and hopefully wiser. Individual perceptions of reality differ. Therefore, who is to say who is right in the end? Enter religion, divinity, or a higher nature, right? Without opening an entire new convoluted discussion on it, most religions have many of their tenets in common; yet, disagreement still lingers. In the end there will be a point in time where we undergo our last change, our last move on the continuum, and I suppose the aim is to believe that all the changes leading up to the final change was worthwhile in order to confidently leave life with, “I did my best as a human being.”