Why do we need a purposeful, meaningful life?
We are born, play around, attend school and college, get a job, set up a family, and then die. Each one of us — hopefully — adds something to the world; we evolve, the human race becomes smarter, and this repeats.
In the end, we do not get out alive, then why does everything — a broken relationship, a layoff, a fight at work, a stomach ache, a smartwatch — matter so much? What is all of this adding up to? Evolution?
All of this is adding up to these moments that the life is collectively composed of.
Why is it important to have a meaning in our life? So that all these moments together sing a melodious song and not blare out a cacophonous cry.
Nietzsche said, “He who has a “why” to live for can bear with almost any “how”.” Like Viktor Frankl, a concentration camp survivor, said in his book Man’s Search for Meaning said that the prisoners who thought that they would never leave the camp were suicidal. They had nothing to look forward to.
If you have no aim, no purpose, why would you carry on?
Life purpose gives essence to our being. And this purpose is individualistic to each, and it can only be fulfilled by that individual.
Like consciousness, life purpose makes ‘an I’ — ‘the I’.
Also Read: Friedrich Nietzsche: How to Choose Between Ambition and Happiness?
But what is this purpose?
Robert Byrne said that the purpose of life is a life of purpose.
The purpose is in understanding — what are we doing and why are we doing it.
On tough days, everything seems out of order. Everyone’s consciousness dictates their life. Others’ problems don’t matter, but we never forget our troubles. While running for the nth time in this loop of the daily routine — get up, work, talk to people, eat, come back to the family, and prepare for yet another day — we forget the purpose.
Robin Sharma, writer of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari and a leadership speaker, asked: “Did you got busy being busy?”
The purpose might not be about big goals, like buying a Ferrari, starting a multi-millionaire company, marrying Madonna or John Cusack, publishing a book more popular than A Song of Ice and Fire.
We are talking about simple day-to-day goals that get us out of bed. Like the aspect of writing makes me peek out of my duvet.
Viktor Frankl said, “that we needed to stop asking about the meaning of life but to think of ourselves as those who are being questioned by life. Our answers are not in talk but in solving life’s problems and to fulfill our tasks, in every moment.”
If we are doing nothing apart from examining, then are we living?
Eckhart Tolle, author of A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, said something similar in a conversation with Oprah Winfrey — the purpose of life is what you are doing right now. What does life want out of you right now?
If your colleague is sick, you have to complete his presentation. If a friend’s car broke down, you have to leave your engagements and fetch him. If your father missed his train, you need to book another ticket and send it to him.
Eckhart Tolle elaborates, “Don’t be dissatisfied with some future goal as fulfillment is by becoming one with the current moment. Even if it does not look like your life purpose — by being true to life at this moment — by giving your best — you are aligning yourself with the purpose or the essence of life”.
This best moment leads you to the next best moment.
Viktor concurred with this by giving examples of some of the prisoners who did not leave their goodness behind, no matter what kind of treatment they were subjugated to. “Their behaviors were the result of an inner decision, and not of the camp influences alone. This spiritual inner freedom — that cannot be taken away — makes life meaningful and purposeful.”
Viktor asked — “Would growing old matter to a person who attacks life actively? No. Because instead of possibilities, he has realities of work done, of having loved, and of suffering bravely suffered.”
You know what bothers me on bad days — not the problems I faced, but how I faced them. Was I graceful? Would I stand if the problems hit me hard again?
Giving yourself to life in each moment, even in suffering, is the purpose of life. Let life overpower.
Also Read: Let Your Life Flow Freely – She Knows Her Course Better than You Do.
How do you find the purpose of your life?
You must be wondering why am I asking you to find a purpose when I said living each moment completely is your purpose. Or what is the problem in losing yourself in day-to-day life, as you are there in each moment?
While working for a finance startup, I used to get ready, attend work calls on the way to the office, reach work, think about how depressed I was, and work as if I was waiting to be freed.
One day, I woke up to realize that none of the angels had enough time to free me. George Bernard Shaw once said, “become the person you wanted to be. Free yourself. Who is stopping you?”
I quit that job and freed myself. Now I write. I am honest about my writing ambitions and I try to give my best— I am aligning with the purpose of my life.
Also Read: Why Do I Travel and Live a Nomadic Life
You are not there in each moment if you are not happy where you are or where you want to be. Get closer to your purpose by filling that large space between your current life and the life you want to have. Mark Twain said, “the man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
If you have to pursue your purpose in life, you have to remain true to yourself. The vice-versa works. If you are being who you are and are giving 100 percent in each moment, you are on the path of the purpose of your life.
Eckhart and Oprah discussed — “End is no different from its mean. If the mean did not contribute to happiness neither would the end. Future is no more than an extension of now.”
The right now will take you to the future, but slowly.
Adam Leipzig, a Yale alumnus and a producer, asked people to find their purpose of life by answering these five different questions:
- Their identity
- What they did or loved to do or what were they supremely qualified to teach other people?
- Who they did it for?
- Did those people want it or need it?
- What did they get out of it or how did they change?
- I am Priyanka.
- I write.
- I write first for myself and then for other people.
- I hope people need my writing.
- When they read it, they are inspired or their life becomes easier.
This is one way to go about it.
What are some other ways to find the meaning of your life?
What is that one thing that defines you? That might be your purpose.
Lizzie Velasquez, once labeled as The Worlds Ugliest Woman, Ted talked about how to be happy and asked everyone to define themselves. As when she defined herself as a motivational speaker, she found the meaning in her life.
The purpose of life should be greater than ourselves, as I, or this being, is mortal and would return to the soil one day. What would remain? The way we had impacted others. My family would remember me but who else?
Victor J. Stretcher, a man without limbs and the author of Life on Purpose: How Living for What Matters Most Changes Everything, thought that talking about what he was going through could help many people face their tragedies. He was spot on. Now that is a purpose to have.
I can only give you a direction, you would have to find your purpose yourself. We all have to.
But does having a purpose makes life easy?
Having a specific purpose also makes it really hard.
People stay in the snowy mountains for years to get a glimpse of the snowcat.
Bird enthusiasts stay in the jungle for decades, and when they spot that one rare species of bird that they thought was extinct, they rejoice. Their purpose is fulfilled.
But are those people who do not have any defined purpose living an easier life?
We have to put in a lot of effort in everything that we do — meetings, presentations, billions of lines of inherited code, social coordination, relationship issues, childbirth, and so much more.
Everybody struggles with his or her daily life. Then why don’t we struggle while doing something meaningful — something that we were meant to do. Why not be busy living for our purposes? If you have to do something, why not do it well?
As Viktor said, “Man is self-determining — he does not simply exist but he decides what he will become in the next moment.”
Don’t be busy just for the sake of being busy. Chose what you want to become. Your decision and efforts might make it better for the rest of us.
Don’t let the song that you wanted to sing die while you are busy stringing and unstringing the guitar.
I am here for a purpose and that purpose
is to grow into a mountain,
not to shrink into a grain of sand,
henceforth I will apply all my efforts
to become the highest mountain of all
and I will strain my potential
Until it cries for mercy.
— Og Mandino
What is the meaning of life, as per you?
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13 thoughts on “What is the Meaning of Life”
Hi Priyanka I don’t even know if this page is active but I’m looking for advice. I’m a 17 year old boy and I’m feeling very lost. I feel confused as to what I’m supposed to do with my life. I get up everyday and attend online school
which I dislike doing and is hard to l
Pay attention to and then i get homework which I mostly copy or don’t do. It feels as if there is no point to doing school I sort of have a plan for what I want to do as a career but I am unsure about. Everything kind of feels meaningless and I can’t really find joy in anything anymore. I went snowboarding yesterday with my friends which is one of my favorite things to and felt kind of numb the entire time. This feeling really sucks and it’s hard to put into words. I feel like i do nothing all day and I just sit on my phone on social media. I have absolutely no motivation to do anything and I just want to feel better but I don’t know how. I also don’t like my friends they are very selfish and none of us really care about each-other but it very hard to find new friends I know this is not the most coherent comment but i don’t really know how else to explain how my Brain has been thinking recently thanks- Korey
Hope you are well today. Have you talked about this to someone close to you? Online schools have changed the feeling of attending school in person and meeting friends and getting out of home so I understand you must be feeling so weird about it. That’s okay. You know I didnt know about my career until I was 27, 28 and some people don’t know it until they are 50. Don’t fret over career just yet. I know you must have to choose course and that is why you are thinking. Why not do some little jobs and see what you like or take a course as per what you like to study and then decide while you graduate? It is not yet time to worry about career though as you can do that your entire life. Believe me, I am 33 and all I know is how I want to do this and do that but I don’t go out with my friends every day to play and that sucks 🙂 You are feeling low, like a lot of us, are feeling in the pandemic. Nowhere to go and everything online and not a breather. Have you spoken to your parents? Is that a possibility that you will talk to them and they will help you feel better? Please do so if you can. One big advice — spend less time on social media and either read and play games. Go outdoor with your football, run, swim, whatever you can do. That gives an energy that helps give direction to our feelings. And ifyou think these friends are selfish, please do take time to make new friends. I make new friends at 33 so don’t tell me now that you can’t do it at 17 😉 Also, the most important, if you are feeling constantly low and demotivated and worse, please do talk to your parents, someone elder close to you. Maybe they will talk to a career counselor or a professional who is better equipped at understanding and explaining your emotions than you or I 🙂 Believe me, life is full of beautiful things to explore, but you need to first put aside social media. Get encouraged to do what you love doing. Maybe painting, flowers, games, driving, etc etc. Sending you sunshine. Let me know how it goes. Take care.
no meaning – apart from the appearance of a meaning to me and from me
“You create your own reality “- Aristotle
Thanks Mars_ultor for visiting my blog and leaving your feedback. Means a lot.
I agree. Each new mystery illuminates your life, if you let it.
Thanks for sharing the video 🙂
Please stay connected.
for me, the meaning is present in the final words of C. Hitchens.
“I want to live my life taking the risk that I havent understood enough, that Im always hungrily operating on the margins of a potentially great harvest of future knowledge and wisdom”
Meaning of life is to know and understand, each new mystery opening up and illuminating your life, finding cures and advancements, the hunger of curiosity fills every “why” in my life.
No encuentro las palabras para describir como me siento después de haberte leído. Pasando por un momento de indecisión acerca de que es lo que quiero para mi vida, y pensando en el futuro no disfruto del presente a menudo.
Gracias por éste texto que me hizo reflexionar mucho y me hizo recordar cual es el propósito que tengo en la vida.
Feliz día 😉
Muchas gracias por las palabras lindas.
Me siento bien que has leído que yo escribí. Ojala que encontrarás que tu estas buscando 🙂
Feliz que te pudia poner pensar lo. Pero tranquila, estás disfrutando la vida. Yo se 🙂
Que tengas un buen día 🙂
So beautifully said Priyanka – I couldn’t agree with you more. I think it’s so important to not let society push us into a purpose that we don’t desire. We are often persuaded to believe that there is only one way of living – that we must get a 9-5 job and a prestigious career, have children and grow old. We each have a purpose, one that may be completely different to what society has made us believe, but that’s the beauty in life. It’s up to us to find it XX
Thanks Kate. Yes, I agree, it is upto us to find it.
Thanks for reading 🙂
Oh, my! You put my thoughts into words.
haha.. Thanks Carolina. Glad you enjoyed it 🙂