What Are You Doing With Your Life Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: What Are You Doing With Your Life? turns traditional ideas about happiness and the purpose of life on its head by diving into the details of life’s most important questions, all so you can live with intention and joy more consistently.

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Who are we? Why are we here? What is the significance of life? How can we live life to the fullest? Many of us desperately search for answers to these hard, existential questions.  

In What Are You Doing With Your Life?, world-renowned philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti tackles these pressing questions and more. But the answers to these questions might not be exactly what you’d think. 

He reveals that there isn’t a higher purpose or path guiding us, but rather what we do with our life is entirely our own responsibility. His wisdom will help you be your best self as you navigate the many challenges life might throw your way.  

These are just 3 of the many inspirational lessons I got from this book

  1. Your conditioning often hinders you from seeing reality. 
  2. Happiness is short-lived, so stop searching for it and just enjoy the happy moments. 
  3. The purpose of life is much simpler than you might think. 

Excited to figure out what you’re doing with your life? Let’s dive right in and get learning!

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Lesson 1: The way you are conditioned stops you from viewing reality as it really is.

Think about love. What does that word bring to your mind? Whatever it is, those ideas were imprinted on you from a young age. Maybe your idea of love is a couple getting married or someone gifting their girlfriend roses. 

However you see it, it was undeniably shaped by your cultural, economic, and social background. Because of this, you might have a narrow view of what love is. Have you ever considered its complexity?

This is just one example of how your conditioning stops you from seeing the complexity of things in the world. Things are constantly changing, but we tend to see the world as fixed. Our cultural background and belief systems underpin how we see everything around us. 

To understand an evolving world, you need to be able to change your perspective. If you don’t harmonize yourself with the continuous changes of life, you won’t see things as they are. 

If you want to look at life truthfully, learn to free yourself of grand theories and instead attempt to explain things in totality. This is hard since many people consider themselves part of an ideology or religion and we tend to force situations into our narrow worldview. 

So how can we fix our worldview? Watch your mind almost like you are watching it from the outside. Then you’ll be able to fully understand how conditioning can limit how you view the world around you. Soon you’ll be able to understand your relationship with the world and be able to understand the complex and evolving problems in the world.

Lesson 2: Happiness comes and goes, so stop looking for lasting happiness and enjoy it when you have it.

Everyone wants happiness in this life. For many people being happy is the whole point of living. You might want to achieve it through finding love or having a fulfilling career. The problem is, it’s really difficult to find lasting happiness. 

So what’s Krishnamurti’s advice? He says that when we’re kids, we have happiness easily and in simple things. We don’t really even have to try, we just find it in the activities we do. Unfortunately, the older we get, the harder it gets to experience this spontaneous happiness. So we try to get it in other ways, like pursuing prestige or money.

The problem with this is that as soon as we get whatever we think we want such as a large house or our dream partner, the enjoyment we get from it is turned into a fear of losing whatever it is. You feel great falling in love, but often we feel fear of losing it or becoming too dependent on it for our happiness. 

This is why as we get older, seeking happiness starts to be somewhat of a curse. Basically, our search for happiness is us searching for security. We need a constant sense of security and well-being. 

But in life, there is no lasting security. The author says that life is short, and all of us are essentially alone. Not even the people closest to us can give us that security.

To avoid this kind of disappointment, we must stop constantly searching for happiness. You need to drop the idea that you need happiness at all times. Start living moment to moment, and realize that things don’t last forever. Happiness is short-lived, but so is sadness. When you realize this, you can truly be happy in those moments.

Lesson 3: The real purpose of living is simply to live.

For centuries, people have searched for the meaning of life. Maybe you’re asking yourself this right now. The author says that this isn’t the place you should start. 

Often we look up to successful people and think that if we follow what they do we’ll find life’s purpose. Cultural traditions and people who came before us give us sort of a road map for what living should look like. We use this model to decide what a purposeful life is. 

We spend so much time following examples of other people that we miss the significance of what life truly is. Life is personal to each one of us. No other authority can help us with our intimate experience. 

If you always need another justification for life, you are missing how extraordinary living actually is. When you are asking yourself about what life really is, it’s likely you are bored with the repetitiveness of your own life. If you think that the purpose is to be successful or religious it’s likely that you are trying to escape from something rather than embrace living. 

Look at what’s happening in your own life right now. If you don’t like the way something is going in your life right now, try to understand why. Confront your sorrow, fear, or confusion, and you can escape your longing for a purpose. Life is beautiful, mysterious, and rich. This should be enough.

What Are You Doing With Your Life Review

I liked What Are You Doing With Your Life and I think you will too. The book nails some of the biases that keep us unhappy, showing us how to unblock our happiness thanks to introspection. Good read!

Who would I recommend our What Are You Doing With Your Life summary to?

The 23-year-old who still lives with their parents and feels totally lost, the 67-year-old deep thinker, and anyone that’s interested in living with more purpose than the monotony of their typical day-to-day life.

Last Updated on May 31, 2023

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Luke Rowley

With over 450 summaries that he contributed to Four Minute Books, first as a part-time writer, then as our full-time Managing Editor until late 2021, Luke is our second-most prolific writer. He's also a professional, licensed engineer, working in the solar industry. Next to his day job, he also runs Goal Engineering, a website dedicated to achieving your goals with a unique, 4-4-4 system. Luke is also a husband, father, 75 Hard finisher, and lover of the outdoors. He lives in Utah with his wife and 3 kids.