What Is Your Life About?

I recently made a mistake, one that I have been making since I was very young. Someone asked me about the book I am currently reading. Was I enjoying it? And what was it about?

By way of answer, I started to provide the basic plot of the book. Afterward, I mentally berated myself for making the basic mistake of conflating the plot — what happens — with what it is about. The point.

But then I started to realize that in my life, I often do the same thing. There is the everyday plot of my life: I got up, had breakfast, went to work, etc. These are the things that happen over the course of the days, weeks, and years of my life.

However, these events are not what my life is about.

It is true, of course, that the two can be related. In a novel, the plot can help to highlight the point of the book. It can be used, along with characterization, symbolism, and other writers tricks — to illuminate the purpose. But they are certainly not the same thing.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘How do you define success?’ We discuss another question as well, ‘Is happiness the most important purpose in life?’


During the weekly meetings Michael and I have to discuss our lives and come up with the week’s questions for Intellectual Roundtable, too often I fall back on the plot of my life during our conversation. I did this thing. An event happened to me. I went here, read this, talked to so-and-so. It is an easy shorthand, to summarize the week that was.

Which, then, raises the question: What is your life about? How often do you think about the meaning, the purpose, the larger picture, of the book you are currently reading. Or, indeed, of your own life?

Related questions: Is happiness the most important purpose in life? How can we encourage meaningful conversation? What gives you purpose? What are you reading right now?

Stick-Shift Or Automatic?

People tend to be very passionate about their automobiles. This is not a surprise, since we spend so much time in our lives driving or being driven from one location to another. Regarding cars, what is your preference: a stick-shift, or an automatic vehicle?

Share why if you wish.

Stick-Shift Or Automatic?

What Is Your Favorite Comic Strip?

Newspapers have lower circulation now, but at one time they were extremely popular. Part of the reason was the cartoon strip, which included everything from Prince Valiant to the Far Side. Do you have a favorite comic strip?

Share why if you wish.

How Do You Grow?

In an ideal world, we would keep improving, getting better nearly every day. For that to happen, though, you need to know how to grow.

Most of us start our growth as toddlers, under the care of our parents. We learn to talk, then to read, and we start to learn about the world around us.

That growth continues in a more formal academic environment: school. We have classes and textbooks, homework and essays. Elementary school is followed by high school, and maybe college, and possibly even more advanced schooling, like law school or medical school.

Some people manage to grow best in this sort of environment. Learning this way might include multiple advanced degrees, extension school, or even just adult education classes. A structured learning environment, with lectures, exams, and homework suit some people very well.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘What book has had the biggest impact on you?’ We discuss another question as well, ‘How do you show thanks?’


After graduating, we might also learn on the job. For example, our co-workers or a mentor might help us grow, and some employers offer classes on appropriate subjects.

Additionally, there is self-guided learning. An individual might read extensively on their own, attend lectures, or even just have in-depth conversations with friends from all walks of life.

Growth, of course, is not limited to learning. You might also grow by overcoming past trauma, or recognizing your own biases. Knowing your own shortcomings, and determining how to minimize them or even turn them into strengths, can be most beneficial.

All these, and others, are ways to learn and and expand your horizons. Do you have a preferred way? How do you grow? And what would you recommend to a friend or family member?

Related questions: What experience helped you grow? How do you learn? What are you doing to improve yourself? What do you wish you had learned as a child?

Individual Or Team Sports?

Which do you to prefer to watch: individual sports like tennis, golf, or running, or team sports like baseball, football, or hockey? Is the answer different for sports to participate in?

Share why if you wish.

Individual Or Team Sports?