As a child, I was full of annoying questions. I would bother my family with verbal surveys & questionnaires about life’s mysteries like ‘why was the moon round’ and ‘how does time difference work’. I was so bad I recall the first time I heard the word ‘inquisitive’ was when my grandmother was complaining about me to my mother. And like most children, I would bother my father as well, and any answer he would give would be followed by another ‘but why’. This infinite regress would usually end in his exhaustion and retreat.
I’d like to think over the years my questions aren’t as annoying as they used to be. However, some of life’s deeper questions still remain unanswered. We all face some of these questions of life when unexpected challenges come our way. It’s these questions that reveal our worldview. They reveal what we believe about the world around us. But before we go into what those 5 questions are let’s look at the idea of worldviews.
What is a Worldview
This cartoon neatly embodies a paradox of a worldview. While the fish are living in water they are unaware of its presence. In the same way, we too are living through our worldview yet are ignorant of its potency and effect.
In brief, a worldview is a lens through which we see the world around us. It is a collection of all our lived experiences that influence how we live. This includes the values we’ve grown up with, the fears within us, the cultures we associate with, the movies we’ve watched, the songs we’ve heard, the goals we aspire towards, and the religions we follow, all these blended together results in our Worldview. We all have our own worldview. It’s your worldview that generates basic assumptions that help us navigate the world around us.
There are moments when our hidden worldview pops into our radar. Foreign travel is one of those triggers. I remember the first time I visited an Asian country (that shall remain unnamed). It was a classic ‘culture shock’. Upon arrival, I was assaulted with smells that were alien to me. I witnessed activities that were beyond my imagination. I was struggling to come to grips that people actually indulged in such activities. In hindsight there was nothing wrong with that country or their culture, it was the normal lifestyle. Although these events were strange and unusual for me, in reality, what was actually happening was my worldview was being challenged.
Our worldview is the colored shades over our eyes that affect our perceptions. They are part of our daily cognitive processes, the way we react to situations and relationships. Our worldview can’t be separated from us. It’s the way in which we navigate what we understand as reality. It is our permanent contact lens through which we view the world.
The 5 Questions
The best way to unpack our worldview is to ask questions. Throughout history, everyone has asked a few common questions. According to philosophers below are the 5 key questions that cover the core struggles each person will face.
- Origin: Where do I come from?
- Identity: Who am I?
- Purpose: What am I here to do? What is my significance in life?
- Morality(Ethics): What is right and wrong? Who decides?
- Destiny: Where do I go from here? What happens to me after I die?
The big 5 questions drive the decision we take…whether we realise it or not. The answers to these questions direct our life pursuits.
These 5 questions are only the first layer of unpacking our worldview. Similarly, there are many other moments that will challenge our worldview. Exploring these questions will help chart the path we want in life. But for the moment answers to these will define your worldview.
We may not have sat down and thought about these questions verbatim, but we have surely faced them during a life struggle. When we are confused about a career change: “what should I do next in my career?” that’s a purpose question. When we are at the deathbed of a loved one wondering where are they going to next, that’s a destiny question. When we wonder why is society normalizing things that are clearly wrong, that’s a morality question.
Why Bother with Worldviews
As humans, we are always seeking answers. From that incessant childhood ‘why’ questions to the debates we have as adults, the questions never stop. This reveals a logical mind that is always seeking truth. We ought to revisit the inner child asking ‘why’ we believe what we believe.
Only when we know ‘why’ we do ‘what’ we do can we thrive in life. It is better to reassess our life goals while we still have a chance of changing course. All ideas have consequences, so it’s best to test the validity of these ideas early before we waste our lives inheriting painful results.
Someone once said, “the most painful thing in life to get that which you desire most only to find it most disappointing”. We can never eliminate frustration from our lives, however, if we invest in unpacking these questions we can reduce disappointments from our own life choices. To thrive in life is to be satisfied with our life choices. To have that fulfillment in life is to assess ‘why’ we do it.
Analyzing our worldview is one step towards living a more meaningful and purposeful life.
~ Thanks to Charles Joseph for providing the breakdown of the 5 questions.
To hear a deeper discussion on worldview checkout
THE IDENTITY CRISIS PODCAST: Episode 2