You are an extraordinary person capable of living an extraordinary life and you are always in time to find your purpose, that path to live according to your values. Heidegger’s legacy gives us 7 lessons to get there.
What does it mean to live with purpose? That is, doing things because we should do them, because they are in tune with our principles, our values, our own way of being.
The purpose is not only sought by people, with, for example, the ikigai; It is also talked about in the business world, where the main leaders and boards of directors say they have realized that it is no longer enough to do business, but that they must have a purpose, a reason for being in the world, one that is also significant, legitimate and fair. Well, hopefully so.
But what does all this tell us about Martin Heidegger, considered the most important thinker of the 20th century, with Wittgenstein’s permission? How can the German philosopher help us in our lives? What about us in all this?
- Nothing is permanent. Heidegger is an existentialist philosopher and that is not synonymous with pessimistic or depressive thinking, but, as a current, existentialism deals with existence. Of what we are being in life and if what we are being adjusts to how we would like to be. Broadly speaking, Heidegger, like Heraclitus, like Nietzsche, believes that there is no immutable essence, as Parmenides does, for example. Things are not, but they are being and if they are being it also means that they can stop being that particular way and be another.
- There is a world of opportunity. It is worth pausing for a moment on this concept, since, if it is clear and fixed in our minds and in our hearts, it will open up great possibilities for change and transformation. Not surprisingly, much of the theory behind the art of coaching is based on this very Heideggerian thought, coming to be explicitly cited in many of its manuals and reference works.
So, what do you do based on Martin Heidegger’s legacy to lead a life of purpose? Here I summarize the 7 basic points to achieve it.
1. ASSUME THAT YOU CAN CHANGE
A person is not clever or naive or clueless, to give a few examples. A person in a specific situation is being clever, naive, or clueless. So, it can stop being that way, if you put your mind to it. If you think that with this way of, being you are not getting the results you want or the objectives you are pursuing. We can change! And all thanks to Heidegger’s Dasein.
What is Dasein? The literal translation is “being-there”, and what it means is that the human being lives in a certain time and place, we are aware of being in the world and from that consciousness comes the power to change. If in this specific situation at that precise moment I have been being naive, it does not mean that I am condemned to naivety, nor that this is an immutable trait of my personality.
It simply means that at that moment and in that situation, I have been being naive, but that I can stop being naive, from the consciousness of my own being, I can be otherwise. Logically, this opens up great possibilities for us, frees us from past mistakes and makes them the basis for our learning and future successes.
2. TAKE CARE OF YOUR RELATIONSHIPS
Now that, for sure, we are a little more familiar with Dasein, we are going to introduce another very Heideggerian concept: being-in-the-world. The existence of the human being can be understood as the set of relationships that it establishes with the world. Being is a being-in-the-world. We could translate it to that we are relationships. Relations with things, instruments, nature, time itself, even, of course, with other human beings; Those relationships are the world we experience.
Therefore, taking care of those relationships, making them meaningful and in accordance with our way of being, is taking care of our existence, because in that becoming that is a relationship, we can meet, flow, live according to what we want to become. And precisely that is what we must take care of.
3. TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR BEING
The human being is the only being in the world who is aware of his existence, at least that is what Heidegger thinks and it helps us to continue opening possibilities. This has to do with the condition of being thrown out of the human being, which is something else to us than the human being, before realizing his own existence, has already been “thrown into the world.” We are before being aware that we are and exist.
Then, when we are already conscious, and unlike other beings and objects on the planet, we must take charge of our being. If we don’t do it, if we don’t deal with being, it is as if “being escapes us,” causing anguish, frustration, and despair. How do you do that? How can you take charge of your being? Very easy, being authentic.
4. ELIMINATE THE “I” FROM YOUR LIFE
This, in my understanding, is one of the most powerful lessons of Heidegger’s philosophy, or at least one of the ones that opens the most paths for growth. Dasein, the being-there, that is, each one of us, can live an authentic or inauthentic life.
Let’s start with the inauthentic, which has a lot to do with the lack of individual responsibility. Do we remember taking charge of our own being? Well, here we are going to go one step further. The das Man, the “se,” is another key concept in German philosophy. The “I” is the path of inauthentic life, one that is immersed in the world, almost subjugated and not in relation to the world, as we have seen in lesson number two.
The “is” is impersonal, avoids responsibility and, therefore, makes learning impossible. Those who have been in a coaching session will know that it is forbidden to say things like “has been talking about “, for example. Who has been speaking? Who is that “I know”? It is like when a small child says that “the vase has been broken”, when in fact he has broken it himself. From his innocence he still cannot take charge of his being and tries to avoid responsibilities, that may be fine for a small child, but for us that is the path of inauthentic life.
5. LIVE ACCORDING TO WHAT IS YOUR OWN
If the “se” takes us away from responsibility, our personal and non-transferable life project places us on the path of the existence of authenticity. But for this, first, we must assume a transcendental concept, which here is related, literally, with the transcendence itself. And it is that the human being must understand that he is a «being-for-death».
Returning to that condition of being thrown of which we spoke before, each of us must be aware that death is there, which, of course, limits our possibilities of action. In a limited time, we have limited possibilities, which does not mean that they are limiting.
That is, if the time to be-there is limited, how do I want to live it? What do I propose to do? What is My project, the one that is according to my way of being? Existence as a project of personal fulfillment. And, of course, here each of us can ask ourselves many questions, many of those in which we will necessarily take charge of our being, of our existence. And, then, turn our existence into a life project.
Is this life that I want to live? Is it according to my being? What do I want to become? Does it help me to develop? Am I on the path of an authentic life or am I on the path of “I”, of anonymity and of the depersonalized automatisms of which we spoke in the previous point? It is possible that now, with the head immersed in these lines, we produce a certain emotional earthquake, this type of question. But, knowing how to answer them, and knowing how to make them exist in our existence, they will produce us fullness, meaning and purpose; vital project.
And let’s not worry about time, let’s not think now that “I no longer have time to turn my life into a project.” Such a type of thinking would be very far from Heidegger’s philosophy, because time is another of the pillars of his philosophy.
6. THINKING THAT YOU ALWAYS HAVE TIME
Martin Heidegger’s most famous and influential work is entitled Being and Time. And, of course, it is not accidental. Let’s see.
If up to now we have been in charge of entering the territories of Being, now it is time, an always complex concept and to which, in addition, the German manages to take a very interesting turn. Because, here, time is not something that runs outside of us, it is not an entity with which we have no relationship.
The time, to put it in some way, is in us. P or what we will always have time, because we ourselves are made of time; we are time. We are what we have been, the past and that condition of being thrown. And we have to accept it. We must not want to change it, but live with that past and learn from it.
But we are not only past, we are also future, because that existence turned into a project – never better said – projects us towards the future. And, obviously, we are also present, that place and that specific time in which we are, in which we are-there and from which we can be being. This may all sound a bit convoluted, read first.
To understand this, let’s consider a phrase used in Jay Shetty’s latest book, think like a monk (Ed. Grijalbo), to reflect on what it is to live with purpose. More or less, the phrase says that leading a meaningful existence is similar to planting a tree in whose shade we have neither the possibility nor the intention of sitting down.
Planting a tree in whose shade I am not going to sit, which I am not going to enjoy, but which I also plant because it is in accordance, for example, with the project of living according to nature, of relating to it in a meaningful way and of authentic life. So, I always have time to start, because it is not about sitting down to rest in its shadow, but about fighting so that in my existence the shadows of living without purpose are not projected.
7. LIVE THE EXTRAORDINARY
Surely, some of the concepts that have emerged along these lines may sound very philosophical to us. However, let’s not forget that Martin Heidegger bet on thinking more and philosophizing less. And he defended that, in any case, what is commonly called philosophizing is nothing more than wondering extraordinarily about the extraordinary, linking with a magnificent sentence by Friedrich Nietzsche in which he assures that “the philosopher is a man who constantly lives, sees, hey, suspect, hope and dream extraordinary things.
That, without a doubt, is a lesson charged with the future, playing with the famous verse by Gabriel Celaya. We have before us the possibility of a life, that of purpose according to our way of being, loaded with the future. And that begins with living and thinking from the extraordinary.
We are extraordinary beings capable of living extraordinary lives, of doing extraordinary things. This means that we are capable of living lives that are far from what “is” supposed to be “done” to initiate our purpose and live according to it.
How to find it? How to find it? How do you know that we have a purpose? All of these, of course, are powerful and extraordinary questions that, be that as it may, already bring us closer to that path. Because for Heidegger all these conceptions of which we have spoken are in motion, nothing is static and permanent. So, we can just get going, without trying to find something eternal and unchanging. Needless.
To be aware that we are on the road is to advance on the road; it is being on the path of purpose.