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What Is The Meaning Of Life?

Photo by Simon Pais

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the meaning of life and the impermanent nature of it all. Observing how we do what we do, the struggles we put ourselves through, the drama, the pain and the suffering.

While thoughts about life, death and purpose drift in and out of my consciousness on a regular basis, the seed of this post was planted, when Pooja sent me a link to “The Last Post” by Derek Miller.

I was just getting on a flight when I opened that link on my phone, and by the time I had finished reading it, tears were streaming down. I spent the rest of that flight, and weekend reflecting on the meaning of life.

What is the point of life, when we come to the end?” I wondered.

I mean, when I look around, I see a lot of struggling—in my own life and in the lives of others. It seems like, even though there’s an abundance of goodness in our lives, the prevalent theme seems to be this struggle to find balance, peace and happiness.

What is the meaning of it all? What is the purpose of life?” I asked silently in the privacy of my thoughts.

I pondered this as I sat uncomfortably in the middle seat, squished between my husband on my right—who was napping in the aisle seat—and an annoying guy to my left—who was playing a distracting driving game, in which his iPad was used as the steering wheel, causing him to move wildly about his seat.

I looked away towards the empty space along the aisle to my right, so that my distracting neighbor was no longer in my peripheral. I reflected on my own experiences—particularly my own “blind” chase towards a more promising tomorrow.

Personal Reflections

All this chasing for what?” I asked myself.

I race and I chase, all so that I can make more money, have more success, be more attractive, and hopefully be happier in some distant future when I’ve hit some superficial and randomly selected target.

But will that day ever arrive? You and I both know how this game goes: the wanting for more never ends; and happiness will always (unless we intervene) appear to be just a reach away, in “some day” land, when we’ve finished this project or have reached that goal.

We stride through life as if we will live forever. We treat time as a cheap commodity that we blindly waste. We become consumed by negativity. We hide behind victim stories.

We get stuck in jobs and relationships that we dislike. We distract ourselves with the noise of media and other people’s opinions. We compete over beauty, status and owning stuff. We buy into the empty promises of cosmetics and luxury products—all of which are illusions fabricated by marketers.

Unable to forgive, we hold on to the pain and we blame people, things, and circumstances for our unhappiness. We surround ourselves with anxiety, stress and depression. Failing to recognize that these “dis-eases” and uncomfortable emotions are our soul’s way of saying, “Wake up! It’s time for a change, baby. This isn’t working.”

We give up our dreams, our art, our purpose, and trade our lives in exchange for money so that we can make a living. While making money to sustain our needs is inevitable, in the making of a living we sometimes forget our unique gifts, we temporarily lose touch with the enormity of our inner being, and we distance ourselves from the confidence of our unique expressions.

In a race to survive, we become mentally paralyzed—like a dove whose wings have been clipped and soon forgets that she can fly.

It’s all so exhausting.

It’s overwhelming.

There’s no end to the madness of chasing.

So many of us rush though life in this way, oblivious to the preciousness of whom we are and unaware of the beauty, wealth, abundance, love & opportunities that surrounds us.

And before we know it, the sands of our hourglass run out, and we face the end of our brief existence on this planet—unfulfilled and regretful for all that we’ve missed.

I know this may sound harsh, and it is. Viewing how we live in its blunt, naked candor can feel rough around the edges. Truth stings. At the same time, we can use this emotionally charged observation to our advantage—to inspire us and to move us such that we begin to live differently.

Derek Miller’s last Blog post is a gift for us. He reminds us of the impermanency of our human existence, and the preciousness of the time we have as living, breathing, creative beings.

It’s time to restructure (at least for me and my family) our lives. It’s time to restructure how we live, how we prioritize, how we contribute, and how we can live more fully in the precious moments we are blessed with.

Just now, as I type this, my husband came home after having taken our son to the park so that I could write this post. He opened my office door, and said, “Go see mama.” My son (18 months old) ran into my office with a smile so big that I was instantly love struck. The love my little boy radiated filled up the room.

Little Ryan charged into my arms at full speed. His little legs wrapped around my waist. His little hands draped around my neck. We hugged. I picked him up and said, “Oh, I love you booboo. Thank you for the hug.

In that moment, I understood…

Perhaps, the only thing that matters is love.
Perhaps, all the chasing we do is just misdirected energy.
Perhaps, all the stress is unnecessary.
Perhaps, we are making life a lot more complicated than it needs to be.
Perhaps, it’s possible (and necessary) to forgive and to let go of our painful past.

Perhaps, there’s an easier route to happiness—by focusing on doing good work, contributing value to society, sharing joyful experiences with people we like, and remembering to slow down to savor the moments.

The Meaning of Life

So what is the meaning of life? What is the purpose of life?

I don’t think any single answer can be ubiquitously shared and be applicable for everyone. So I’ll answer for myself, from my current state of understanding.

I think the meaning of life is what ever meaning we give it—and we can literally give it any meaning that “feels right” to us. There’s a blank canvas in front of you. You are the artist of your life, and you are free to paint any picture that pleases you—and change it at any time for that matter.

What “feels right” to you? What do you want your life to mean? What do you want your life to be about?

I think the purpose of life is to discover what makes you happy, and then go do more of it. The most interesting answer I’ve heard to “What is the purpose of life?” came from my husband. He said:

The purpose of life is to do what makes you come a live. When you stop, you die.

For me, the answer is simple: (in addition to my family) learning and sharing about empowering topics—like all the content on his site—is on the top of that list.

So, what makes you come alive?

Parting Words on Life Meaning

I wrote and re-wrote this article over the past 4 weeks–cutting more than half the content down to the essentials. The point of this article can be summarized by the following:

Life is short.

Life is precious.

What are you dreaming about? Go do it. Go make it happen. Go do it despite fear and doubt and the opinions of others. Go do it, because it makes you happy. Go do it, because it makes you come alive.

Who are you holding a grudge against? Decide to forgive them, today, right now. Decide that you will heal, and decide to tell a different story. Give yourself permission to be free, because you are.

Where do you want to visit? Start planning for it, even if you don’t yet have the money. Keep moving in that direction, and I promise you that you will find a way.

Who do you love? When you’re with them, give them your full attention. Create the time and space to connect with them. Put love at the top of your list.

In the end, love is all that matters. Love for our selves, for other people, for our work, for all the unique experiences of life.

Life is simple, but we insist on making it complicated. Let’s make it simple again, by focusing on what matters.

–Tina
June 13, 2011 Seattle, USA

Discover You Now (NEW)

My first in-depth writing is done.

The digital guide is Discover You Now. The guide was originally intended to be an expanded edition of the article “Life on Purpose: 15 questions to discover your personal mission”. The guide will walk you through the exact process I personally use to:

  • Find your life purpose
  • Create your personal mission statement
  • Discover your deepest values
  • Overcome your fears
  • Discover how to make a living with your passions
  • Achieve any goal
  • Complete any project

Additionally, the guide will come with over $100 worth of bonuses. Read more about it here.

If you’ve connected with any of my writing, you will enjoy this. Plus, you have 60 days to try it and if you are not satisfied, I’ll give you a full refund.

You can grab a copy of this digital workshop by clicking on the pink button below (or click here to learn more about it):


Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

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About the author

Tina Su is a mom, a wife, a lover of Apple products and a CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) for our motivational community: Think Simple Now. She is obsessed with encouraging and empowering people to lead conscious and happy lives. Subscribe to new inspiring stories each week. You can also subscribe to Tina on Facebook.

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119 thoughts on What Is The Meaning Of Life?

  1. Llywellyn

    For me the value in life is in what we can do for others.

    Love is the ONLY important thing in life.

    Greatness is in the realisation (and action upon this) that we are nothing outside of our love for our brothers and sisters. Each and every one of our brothers and sisters is infinetly more important and greater than us.

    But thats just me.

  2. It’s so hard to know which way to go…

    1. Pursue your dreams and goals with passion and enthusiasm to achieve your highest potential, or…

    2. Just chill out, be cool, go with the flow and keep life as simple as possible.

    Maybe somewhere in between the 2 options might be the way to go.

    I think I agree though, that to love and to be loved is the most important thing in life.

  3. VimalKumar

    Nice Article.. It really makes lot of sense

  4. Awesome article once again.

    Found myself singing Tina – the other night – ‘all you need is love – da da da da da’…. to love and to be loved – that has got to be THE ultimate answer!

  5. Hi Tina, I too am familiar with Derek Miller’s “last post” and he got it right.

    We are a funny bunch of creatures, running around like ants.

    We all need to read his post to realize what’s important.

    I have to admit, my priorities are more in line these last few years and often have thoughts on the meaning of life myself.

    I never feel suggesting a perspective shift can be too often.

    thanks for the awesome read.

    Jayne

  6. Hayden James

    I always been motivated by how Bob Marley put it:

    “Life and Jah are one in the same. Jah is the gift of existence. I am in some way eternal, I will never be duplicated. The singularity of every man and woman is Jah’s gift. What we struggle to make of it is our sole gift to Jah. The process of what that struggle becomes, in time, the Truth.”

  7. Jayne,

    I’ve recently wrote a post on my blog, about how much we Are like ants.

    You can read the post @ http://thepowertolive.com/2121/are-you-antsy/

    Connie

  8. What a beautiful post!
    I’m wondering if you’ve read Viktor Frankl’s amazing book, Man’s Search for Meaning, written about his experiences in a Nazi concentration camp in World War 2.

  9. na

    Are you still sending emails daily or weekly?

  10. I think the best line I’ve ever heard is: “The purpose of life is a life of purpose.”

    IMO, we all make our own meanings, rules and create our own purpose in life. Mine is to experience joy, enjoy life and be loving and kind. Everything else is just speculation.

    All the best,

    Josip Barbaric

  11. Hi Tina,

    This is a niece piece of writing. It reminds me of a quote I read a while ago: “It is not whether or not life has meaning but whether we give it meaning” :)

  12. Great post, Tina :-) I have a little boy as well, 19-months now, and I have also found that having his love in my life has opened my eyes up to what really matters in life. I am still a driven person with goals and focus, but I have learned to settle down and sit still, to indulge in his smiles, and to, as you said, ‘savor the moments’. Life is a beautiful and precious gift, and we can lose sight of that so easily when we allow ourselves to be preoccupied with where we’re headed instead of enjoying where we are. I write about related topics and think you might enjoy one of my posts in particular – http://selfactualizer-blog4personaldevelopment.com/2011/07/13/creating-a-home-for-ourselves/ Thanks for the post!

  13. Robert

    Very introspective. That’s the problem. Our major problem, for many of us who are Introverts. You will notice that Extroverts – don’t worry about life. They don’t try to find meaning. They just do it. They just say it. They just hang around. No time to be depressed because they are too busy living.

    Get out of thinking mode and start living. EVERYONE.

    Do. Experience. Take risks.

    And it’s okay to fail.

    It’s okay to have a shitty day.

    Tina has a son. Don’t spend so much time thinking and trying to get meaning – while your life and your child’s life pass you by.

    Live. Stop thinking. There is no meaning in life – but that which you experience each waking moment. That’s the meaning. Not in any meaning at all!

    God bless us introverts all!

  14. Neema

    You know what is the meaning of life, the meaning of life is Jesus because when God created Adam and Eve he loved the so much and God warned them not to eat from that tree or they will die. But Adam and Eve betrayed them so theyre destiny was death. Because of that all humain have sinned and fall short to the glory of God (romains 3:23) but God loved us so much that he didn’t want us to die in hell so he sent Jesus into earth to take your place in hell he sufered and died on the cross for you so that you would not go to hell.
    The meaning of life is to accepte Jesus as your Savior and Lord and believe in what i said because it comes from the bible and the bible is the truth.
    If you do that you will never ask that question anymore because you will know the answer!!!!!!

    Im telling you it’s the best thing that will ever happen to you!!!
    Im a witness!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. Neema

    For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life (john 3:16)

  16. Deep Thought

    The meaning of life is 42. This, I am certain of. I have checked it, and it is clear. Perhaps you just never knew the question.

  17. ata

    Let me share some divine words ;
    ‘By the time. verily man is in loss. except those who believe and do good deeds, and recommend one another to the truth and recommend one another to patience

  18. Rachel Passer

    Tina,

    What a wonderful aritcal! You are an amazing writer and have a beautiful perspective of life. When reading this, I found that I completely agree and actually already live by everything you said.

    Thank you for taking the time to write such a great artical – if I had it in my power, I’d make everyone in the world read it. We need more people like you out there.

    Take care. I wish you and your family only the best!

    Sincerely,
    Rachel (17 years old)

  19. Em

    Thank you for sharing, I appreciate it! Lately I have been feeling demotivated in life since recently graduating and kept pondering this question a lot, however reading this article I feel so much better now. I have even wrote down some of the points so I can reflect back to it whenever I feel deflated. :) Cheers x

  20. Corrine

    Thank you Tina for sharing The Last Post and for this article. It’s what I have been asking myself recently too. Why do we exist? Why do we have to go through life the way we go through them today? Qhere is the meaning? What will be there at the end? I still have no answer to that depth. But as I read a quote from somewhere, when you feel your life is missing something, it’s usually somebody. Perhaps.

  21. marc

    Tina,

    Great post!I agree wholehaertedly with everything that you stated!Lifes a journey,not a destination-couldnt have said it better myself!If I may be so bold as to state MY opinion on the meaning of life,I would say that among other things,it entails finding people and interets that will satisfy you mentally,physically,and spiritually,devoting and commiting time to caring about others being of service to them,finding a spiritual(higher)power and finding a relationship with them,and pursuing occupations and goals that will benefit you and the community.I enjoyed this article a lot!Keep on writing!

  22. syuhada

    Hi Tina, I enjoy reading your website about organizing. Then i see this articles make me want to comment about purpose of our life. For me, for a many thing we are chasing like a perfection of many thing such as happiness or succesfull there are a target that must be fullfill. I believe for a great power that created us. I believe there must be a reason why we are here (earth). There must be a creator. We are chasing what the creator of us want. And He know what is the best and what is bad for us. Then we know why we are here. That is my purpose of life .Just a little sharing from me. Thanks a lot on your article about organize or management. =)

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