At some point in your life you’ve probably asked yourself, “what is the meaning of life?” at least once. The answer is different for everyone of course, but there are a few core answers that are universal. Life is all about finding joy, purpose and connection with the world and people around us. When we experience these three things we can find true meaning in our lives. A quick look at some examples of joy, purpose and connection is shown below;
- Joy – can be found in moments large and small. It could be a night out with friends, a movie or a sunset. Different things will give different people joy – which is probably just as well as if we all liked the same things the world would be a fairly boring place.
- Purpose – can come from dedicating yourself to something bigger than yourself. This could be a career, a hobby, or a cause. Once again though, thankfully, different people will find purpose in different things.
- Connection – can be found in meaningful relationships with family, friends, and the community. This one is probably the most important ‘meaning of life’ as for almost everybody, life really only has meaning when there’s people to share it with.
Ultimately though, the meaning of life is whatever you make of it and only by exploring joy, purpose, and connections can you create a life that is truly meaningful.
The Purpose of Life
The purpose of life can be a difficult concept to grasp because it is so different for each person but it is one that can bring great rewards. The purpose of life is up to each individual person and no two people will have the same exact purpose. There are however certain aspects that are common to everyone.
Firstly, it is important to recognize that life is a precious gift and that we should make the most of it. This may mean pursuing our passions and interests and a big part of the purpose of life is actually figuring out what those are. It might instead (or as well) be about striving to make a difference to the world around us in some way. As the saying goes, “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste it, to experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences”. That saying has been attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt in some places but is repeated regularly online without attribution, so we’re not sure who originally said it. But it seems pretty accurate to us.
It’s also important to recognize that life can and should be a journey of self-discovery. We should strive to learn more about ourselves and our potential and to use this knowledge to become the best version of ourselves we can be. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The purpose of life is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well” (Asel, 2020). By being the best version of ourselves we can hopefully be useful in some way, however small, such that for someone you’ve made a difference. The paradox of this part of the purpose in life is that you may never know for whom you made the biggest difference.
Finally, it is important to recognize that life should be lived with a sense of joy and contentment. We should strive to find a balance between our goals and our happiness and to appreciate the beauty of life and the people around us. Which leads us to determine that the purpose of life is in fact like much of the universe in general, a balance. A balance of happiness, with creating happiness and usefulness for those around us that will make a difference to them and potentially others to.
Ultimately, the purpose of life is up to each individual to decide. Whether it is pursuing our passions and interests, striving for self-discovery, or simply enjoying the moments of life it is important to recognize that life is a precious gift and should be lived to the fullest.
The Search for Happiness
The search for happiness is an important part of understanding the meaning of life. Everyone is looking for happiness and it is often said that happiness is the ultimate goal of life. You may ask yourself, what is the meaning of life if I am always searching for something I may never find? The answer to this is that life is a journey and the search for happiness is part of the journey. Happiness is not a destination but a path that you take along the way. To find happiness you mustn’t concentrate on the destination but instead look around you at the scenery as you traverse this thing called life.
In order to find true happiness it is important to set realistic expectations and learn to appreciate the small moments that bring joy. By taking time to recognize the simple pleasures in life such as spending time with family or getting lost in a good book you can find a kind of peace and satisfaction that will stay with you even in the toughest times. Investing in meaningful relationships and meaningful activities can also bring a sense of purpose and fulfillment to your life.
Creating a positive attitude and outlook on life can go a long way in your search for happiness. Instead of focusing on the negative things in your life try instead to focus on the things that bring you joy and gratitude. Reminding yourself of the good things in life, even in the midst of difficult situations, can help to create a more balanced perspective and can lead to a more satisfying life overall. A sense of gratitude can help keep a positive attitude and perhaps bizarrely a positive mindset seems to bring more happiness, which can bring more gratitude. This is a virtuous cycle and is in fact a core tenet of the Law of Attraction or Manifestation.
The Pursuit of Meaning
The pursuit of meaning is something that has been a part of our collective history since the dawn of time. To understand what the meaning of life is we must first understand what it means to pursue meaning. It is this pursuit of meaning that gives us our sense of purpose and allows us to live with purpose and intention.
The pursuit of meaning is a journey of self-discovery. When we reflect upon our life experiences we can uncover the deeper truths that lie within us. Through this process we can gain a greater understanding of our values and beliefs and how they shape our purpose in life. By understanding our own personal truths we can begin to understand the meaning of life as a whole.
At its core though, the pursuit of meaning is an exploration into the essence of our very being. We can use philosophy, religion and/or science to help guide us on our journey. By examining our own life experiences and the experiences of others we can gain a deeper understanding of the world around us and how we fit into it. By uncovering the truth of our being we can gain a better understanding of the meaning of life.
Looking for the meaning in life is one of the first steps of beginning a spiritual awakening – this realization that surely life must mean something. The journey we then go on is a long, sometimes arduous one of self realization, ego death and discovering we’re actually part of something much bigger than ourselves.
Living In the Moment
Living in the moment is an important part of a happy and meaningful life. It allows us to focus on the present and enjoy life without worrying about the past or future. This can help us to find meaning in life as it helps us to appreciate the present and to be more mindful of our experiences.
Living in the moment can also help us to find our purpose in life. By being mindful and focusing on the present we can identify the things that bring us joy and meaning and use them to shape aspects of our lives. We can also be intentional with our decisions and by considering our values and beliefs we can make choices that bring us closer to our purpose.
Research has shown that living in the present can have a significant positive impact on our mental and physical health (NHS, 2019). It can help us to reduce stress and worry and help us to focus on the things that bring us joy. By living in the moment, we can make the most of our lives, and create a life that has meaning and purpose.
Connecting with Others
Connecting with others is a crucial part of understanding the meaning of life. Having meaningful relationships with friends, family and other people in your life can help you to understand the meanings of happiness, joy and contentment. Research has found that strong social relationships can lead to increased levels of life satisfaction (Amati et al., 2018). Many Christians believe that relationship is all there is in life – relationship with God, relationship with ourselves and relationships with others.
Spending time with people you care about, whether it’s a close family member, a trusted friend or a supportive mentor, can provide you with an emotional anchor and help you discover what matters to you in life. Connecting with others can also help you to expand your understanding of the world around you as their beliefs and viewpoints will be different to yours.
By engaging in conversations with people from diverse backgrounds you can gain a more nuanced understanding of different perspectives, cultures and beliefs (Axner, 2018). Ultimately, engaging in meaningful relationships can help you uncover the meaning of life and thrive in a meaningful and fulfilling way and can broaden your horizons to things you didn’t even think you would experience in your life.
Finding fulfillment is a personal journey that requires self-exploration but is heavily tied into all the above sections too. In a nutshell it is understanding and accepting your purpose in life which is specific to you. It is discovering what makes you feel alive and living in alignment with those values. If you’ve investigated the aspects we’ve talked about in the previous sections then finding fulfillment should come almost naturally.
Meaningful activities which will help you find fulfillment can be found in many areas of life including developing meaningful relationships, dedicating yourself to a cause or mission, creating works of art and pursuing lifelong learning. Lifelong learning is another important aspect of the meaning of life since once we stop learning we tend to lose direction and the pursuit of meaning becomes dulled.
Fulfillment is ultimately achieved by discovering the answers to the question of “What is the meaning of life?” and then making choices that bring you closer to achieving that meaning. From a spirit world point of view it’s about asking the question “What does my soul want me to achieve?” or, “What did my soul choose for me to do in this life“? You can use meditation to help find the answer to this question.
Making a Difference
Making a difference is another key essence of the meaning of life. Being able to give back to your community, be it through donating your time, money or resources is an activity which can be a rewarding experience for yourself and those around you. It can give you a sense of purpose and satisfaction knowing that you are making an impact on the lives of others. It can also provide you with an opportunity to build relationships, gain new skills, and enhance your sense of self-worth. But remember, making a difference doesn’t have to be grand gestures that generate massive attention from the world. Making a difference can sometimes simply be by showing up.
By making a difference in the lives of those around you, you can make a difference in how you view the world and the meaning of life. It can open up a whole new perspective and shed a new light on the world. It can help you to realize that the world operates on a much larger scale and that your individual efforts can still have a positive impact no matter how big or small they may look. Furthermore, it can help you to build a sense of interconnection with those around you and to appreciate the beauty of life.
Making a difference is the foundation of life and understanding the meaning of life is a continuous (and ever-changing) journey. Seeking out ways to make a positive impact on your community and the world can be a great way to start. When you make a difference you can gain a sense of purpose and contentment and realize the importance of your own contribution.
The meaning of life is a question that has been asked by people of all ages and cultures throughout time. There is no one right answer as each individual may have a different interpretation and find different sources of purpose and fulfillment. While the answer to this question is unique to each individual we’ve hopefully helped you to identify some general aspects that will help you find your specific meaning.
The purpose of life is often thought of as the reason for our existence. It may involve striving for a higher purpose such as achieving spiritual enlightenment or making a positive difference in the world. Some people may find purpose in a specific career or vocation, while others may find it in hobbies or creative pursuits. Remembering that we are all part of something interconnected and bigger than ourselves helps us to see our purpose within the intricate woven fabric that is life.
The search for happiness is another common theme in the search for meaning in life. Happiness is a very subjective emotion and each individual person will have a different definition of what it means to be happy. For some it may involve having a sense of satisfaction or contentment while for others it may involve pursuing activities that bring joy and excitement.
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Amati, V., Meggiolaro, S., Rivellini, G., & Zaccarin, S. (2018). Social relations and life satisfaction: the role of friends. Genus, 74(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41118-018-0032-z
Asel, P. (2020, April 23). Do the right thing. Medium. https://paulasel.medium.com/do-the-right-thing-711f91a47362
Axner, M. (2018). Chapter 27. Cultural Competence in a Multicultural World | Section 2. Building Relationships with People from Different Cultures | Main Section | Community Tool Box. Ku.edu. https://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/culture/cultural-competence/building-relationships/main
NHS. (2019). 5 Steps to Mental Wellbeing. Nhs.uk; NHS. https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/self-help/guides-tools-and-activities/five-steps-to-mental-wellbeing/