Shine on You Crazy Diamond: The Meaning of Life

John Cousins
February 7, 2023
2 min read

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who divide things into two groups, and those who don’t.

The philosopher Ronald Dworkin identified two different categories of interests “experiential interests” and “critical interests”. He used this differentiation to explore how people view and set their life goals.

Experiential interests are things we pursue for enjoyment or pleasure. These pursuits give life its flavor.

Critical interests are those what we value becoming a reality. These are the interests we pursue because they create meaning in life. They are existentially critical interests.

When you are contemplating entrepreneurial activity one of the impediments that holds people back is the fact that most startups fail. If you are pursuing a critical interest of yours, that piece of information may not be so relevant.

Critical interests address Viktor Frankl’s response to the world asking us the question: What is the meaning of life.

What is the meaning of life?

Viktor Frankl provided us with a profound response to this question. He reframed it. Instead of looking at it as us asking the question, he flipped it. He suggested that the World asks that question of each of us, and we respond with our actions. We create the meaning by what we do and how well we do it. And how well we do things is directly related to how present we are while doing them. What we do is driven by our critical interests.

Put in the effort. Answer the question by living the questions.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

― Rainer Maria Rilke

It is through your decisions, choices, actions, and work that you will discover who you are. You will only know in retrospect.

All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work.

— Calvin Coolidge

If we manage to lead a good life, we make our lives tiny diamonds in the cosmic sands.

- Ronald Dworkin

Shine on you crazy diamond.

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John Cousins
Author, Entrepreneur, & Teacher

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