How to Live a Good Life: As Taught by French Philospher Albert Camus

You only live once. A lot of people, especially the younger ones, always scream this line out when they try to do something crazy. Even people who are in their mid-30's are starting to use this as an excuse to drink one more bottle of wine or drive after drinking heavily. Circumstances like these speak a lot about how people adopt a fatalistic view of life. But how can we make the most out of this life that we can only live once?

French philosopher Albert Camus might just have the answer for us. It is found in his work, The Myth of Sisyphus.

The Myth of Sisyphus: What is it about?

This famous work of Camus discusses the concept of the Absurd.

The absurd is the existing conflict between your expectations of the world or your life that constantly goes against the chaos of the universe. Of course, in this said conflict, the universe wins over your puny expectations.

Basically, he is saying that life is devoid of meaning, and there is no point in living it to the fullest. We will all die, and nothing you did will ever matter ever again.

Because some people recognize the meaninglessness of life, they resort to suicide. But, is it right for anybody to choose suicide? The answer, according to the author, is no. Everyone can still enjoy life despite the absurdity.

Instead of putting an end to life, Camus proposes that we should all just accept a life devoid of a predetermined meaning or purpose. He points out that the meaning of life is not about expectations or aspirations. Rather, life is simply the act of living itself.

So, how can we make the most out of life despite the absurdity?

01. Accept the Absurd.

First of all, you have to look beyond all the notions of different situations that you think are under your control.

For example, you just proposed to your dream girl and as you are crossing the road to tell your parents about it, you get run over by a car.

As tragic as this example may seem, things like this inevitably happen. To live a good life, you have to understand that the universe is in utter chaos. Anything can happen. You cannot do anything about it and you are just a speck in a macrocosm of situations that echo throughout history.

02. Act the part in your current play.

Each one of us plays roles in our lives. These roles mold us into who we aspire to be – making us actors in our own play. And much like an actor, we have an idea that these roles were only set upon us by the situations which we find ourselves in.

You’ve already been acting or pretending for quite some time. Ask yourself:  Why do you bother to go through your daily grind at work if you are no longer happy with what you are doing? You are playing pretend with yourself. This is not bad – you just have to accept that we are beings driven to act out in our own plays with the script determined by our basic desires and ambitions.

03. Re-create Your World.

Now that you know that your place in the cosmos is merely like a grain of sand, you will be driven to make the most out of it. Life should be meaningful for you and it is time for you to have a new approach to living.

There is solace in the humbling fact that you now know your place in the universe. Despite how meaningless you may find whatever you are doing, you have to keep on doing it. No one else will do it for you.

But, now that you have an idea of how fleeting life can be, you can live with a heavier or more determined purpose. How the different lives that pass you by each day are all driven by their passions is a fact that you live with. What sets you apart from the rest is that, by now, you already know that there can still be purpose in the acceptance of meaninglessness.

As you wake up to another morning, you now carry the hope that you can appreciate the fact that, for all we know, you are only given one shot at life. Sure, you can commit mistakes here and there but always tread lightly. Care for what you do and how you relate to others despite the absurdities of life. Learn to laugh at your problems and conquer them right after. You only live once so live it the best you can.

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