Tag Archives: life meaning

What gives life meaning and purpose

What gives life meaning and purpose in the absence of inherent meaning or external validation?

The question of what gives life meaning and purpose in the absence of any inherent or externally-imposed meaning is a profound one that philosophers have grappled with for centuries. In my view, while there may not be any objective, universal meaning of life bestowed from an external source, we can still find subjective meaning and purpose through our own experiences, values, and choices.

One perspective is that meaning arises from the pursuit of what we deeply care about – be it cultivating relationships, creative expression, acquisition of knowledge, or working towards causes larger than ourselves. By identifying our core values and passionately dedicating ourselves to goals aligned with those values, we create purpose that imbues our lives with significance.

Another view draws from existentialist philosophy – we are radically free beings who have the ability to create our own essence and determine the meaning of our existence through our actions and life projects. While unsettling, this freedom presents an opportunity to construct purpose authentically from our individual experiences and choices.

Some find meaning through leaving a positive legacy – contributing something valuable to the world or future generations, whether through creative works, positive impact on others, or raising children with wisdom. The drive to lead an ethical life and make this world better in some way can provide a profound sense of purpose.

Psychological research also shows that feeling part of something larger than ourselves, being in service of noble goals, and cultivating awe at the vastness of the universe can all facilitate a sense of meaning. Religions, philosophies, and spiritual/naturalistic worldviews often provide overarching frameworks that allow people to situate themselves in an understandable cosmic context.

Ultimately, while inherent meaning may not exist, the richness of human experience and the complexity of our minds enables us to create meaning and purpose through our values, actions, relationships, emotional landscapes, and search for truth and understanding. It is an perpetual journey of inner exploration and outward expression. We are the authors writing the stories of our lives.