In a candid revelation, South African-born billionaire Elon Musk stunned audiences at the DealBook Summit 2023 after he disclosed his battle with profound thoughts of suicide at the tender age of 12.
Reflecting on his early years, Musk disclosed grappling with an “existential crisis,” delving into deep philosophical quandaries that haunted his young mind. He confessed that the weight of these thoughts pushed him to question the purpose of existence, contemplating the idea of suicide.
“It is all pointless? Why not just commit suicide? Why exist?” Musk revealed, citing his exposure to German philosophy books that, instead of enlightening, plunged him into a state of deep melancholy.
Shift in Perspective: Insights from Literature
However, a pivotal moment came when he stumbled upon “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams.
Elon Musk credits this novel for shifting his perspective on life’s meaning, recognizing that it’s not a single answer but the pursuit of the right questions.
My motivation then was, well, my life is really finite … but if we can expand the scope and scale of consciousness then we are better able to figure out what questions to ask about the answer that is the universe, and maybe we can find out what is the meaning of life,” he said.
Navigating the Storm: Musk’s Mind and Childhood Impact
Opening up further, the billionaire revealed the tempestuous nature of his mind, likening it to a “very wild storm” perpetually brimming with a torrent of ideas. However, he clarified that this mental storm wasn’t a harbinger of happiness, attributing it partly to his innate disposition, amplified by the challenges of a “difficult childhood.
“I think to some degree I was born this way, but it was amplified by a difficult childhood, frankly,” he added.