I love listening to Stephen Fry. He’s such a great thinking and, although I do not always agree with his conclusions or answers, I love the way he thinks deeply about things.
“The worst thing you can do in life is set goals. Two things happen. One is you don’t meet the goals and you call yourself a fialiaer. Secondly you meet your goal and don’t feel happy either. I have got this car, this job I live at this address which is were I always wanted to be. And why? Because you are going for something outside yourself and that’s no good”
I agree that setting goals in and of itself is pointless. You make a goal, then try to achieve it but what is the point? It’s like picking a random place to walk to and then walking there. What does it really achieve? Goals need to be made in the context of meaning and simply setting and achieving goals does not produce meaning.
So the real question is what is the meaning of life?
Referring to Noel Coward’s remark “work is more fun than fun” Fry says its good to ask “is my work more fun than fun?”. If so then we are in the right place doing the right thing. If of course the meaning of life is to be happy. Or, actually, I think he could be saying that it’s not best to seek happiness in and of itself, but rather do something that produce’s it as a side effect and if that thing is the thing you are giving yourself to a lot of the time then that’s about as good as it gets.
“Everyone has in them to express themselves that fundamental thing that they know they are inside. That rather beautiful afraid person which might get translated into aggression or silence or shyness or all kind of other things but inside we know that we are huggable and lovable and we want to love and be loved. That person is really yearning for fulfilment.
To be the person that they know they can be. And that is constant journey. It’s a process.
Its not about acquiring this thing and the thing, getting to this place, learning that technique, finding out how this thing works. I suppose to me its about that fact that other people are always more interesting than oneself….”
He points out that unsuccessful people are usually egocentric. Not sure if that is true, or what the definition of success is. Maybe it’s related to happiness. Anyway, what a wonderfully positive and insightful description of the human condition. Its true that somewhere at some level most people long to love and be loved because we were made in the image of a God who is love and who made us to love and be loved by him. The source of the fear and anger and wanting to hide etc comes from our disconnect with God and from rejecting his good for our lives. We live with the tension of being lovable and yet unlovable. The reality behind this is that God is able to loves us in our unlovelynes by uniting us with his son. Our unlovlyness, that is our guilt and shame and sin and rebellion, is placed on Jesus who is punished and rejected by God on the cross in our place. God’s perfect love for his son then falls like summer rain on us.
We are then back in a position where life has meaning again. We are in relationship with the God who made us to love and be loved by him. God given goals are meaningful, done as they are in the context of a loving relaitoship. Our satisfaction and happiness is not in completing them, rather working towards them is a meaningful outworking and expression and enjoyment of our relationship with God. The bible calls this “living life for God” worship and happiness and joy are never far from it.