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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. Debbie

    Tina … Thank you sooooooo much for being you. I’ve learned so much from reading your articles and stories over these past few years. You are a very precious human being. Whether you feel it or not, please know that you brighten my day, touch my heart and teach me things about life better than many other writers I’ve read. Please continue to share your heart and life with us. I, for one, will NEVER tire of it. May God Bless you and your’s.

  2. sunil

    Dear Tina

    “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.

    May be this could be some answers to the above…..

    Masters say that human life is the only way that we can pay for all the wrongs we have done by praying to the Lord and asking for forgiveness. However good we are in this life, our past has so much to pay for, that we will never be able to pay for all our past. We can only pray & hope that the Lord forgives us.

  3. Karl Pilkerton

    I think this is dead on and really appreciate the perspective.

    “The meaning of life is that which we give it.”

    I just read a very good blog post with a similar message on the meaning of life, see it here: http://goo.gl/Mj5x5

  4. Robox

    The purpose of life.. Is to have a purposeful life :-D

  5. Sufian Chaudhary

    I believe life is far more exceedingly complex than many like to ponder, if we were to fully comprehend the value and meaning of life, it would change our perceptions of everything we currently find important and this loss of material significance would be quite scary for most to deal with.

    Life right now has become centred upon our material world, however this train of thought is not spiritually sustainable if our material world was to collapse. Much of the GFC is based around the fear of the lack of true change into a new economic norm than it is based on actual market performance. We don’t want to feel like we have ‘wasted our time’ working for it to just disappear in a couple bad trading days, however isn’t this exactly what happens when we die?

    Life can be modelled into various Dimensions that the human soul must Ascend into one by one, in order to achieve a level of realization consistent with the very Creator that thought us into existence. Daily life may seem meaningless without some form of spiritual recognition of ‘moving forward’ or ‘helping others’, however even still we are trying to externalize our issues by filling a gap within ourselves that never existed in the first place.

    To be content with the Now, to complete ourselves with Love, that is true freedom.

    If you would like to read a complete breakdown of our Universal cycle, please visit http://www.enlightenmentcity.com/1/post/2012/10/what-is-life-about.html and enjoy the higher path of knowledge.

    Kind regards,

  6. we can figure out what life is about if we really want to know it.
    many people simply do not care enough to give it enough effort.
    but it is not as hard as some will make it seem.

  7. It is a struggle for many people to find the meaning for this life. And the way many of us are raised in this society does not make it any easier. But i believe that the answers are there for those who really give it a try, just like succeeding in anything else requires that you give a great efffot. There is so much information on this subject in this day and age but laziness will not get it done. I believe that life is meant to be a journey and somewhere down the line we will find the answers we are looking for.

  8. John E.

    Hey Tina! I love the article… I needed this a lot.

    What if my dream is to find the right person to do life with? A significant other? Someone I can love, and they can love me?

    I’ve tried and put wayyy too much effort in life trying to find someone, and it always ends up me seeming ‘needy’. I decided a couple years ago to stop looking for it, but my heart still yearns for it!

    Is this what I have made the meaning of my life to be? I can’t seem to find happiness in the simple things in life being single anymore. I’ve been like this since I was 12. I’m 21 right now. I know i’m young, but that doesn’t change anything for me.

    Please, any advice from someone would be awesome! Thank you very much

  9. Max

    I find it very interesting that while you encourage living “more fully in the precious moments we are blessed with.” you would deny that to the “annoying” guy sitting next to you who seems to be living that philosophy more fully than you are.

  10. Mahdi

    Thanks for your beauty text Dear Tina
    “A human being is a part of a whole, called by us _universe_, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
    Albert Einstein

  11. Ghadeer

    Very touching , deep article . In Islam we believe that life is nothing but a short journey , we always say live your life but remember God as well .

  12. John Doe

    Not to bursts anyone bubbles and don’t get all depressed. You want to know what the true meaning of life is? There is none. There’s no point in making money, having friends, or saving the world. We live life because we can. Just like any action we do in life. Live life and make the best of it. Be happy and make others happy not for any goal but because you can.

  13. Da-Ron

    These are all things I already know just thougt no one else did good to know there are other people who do to.

  14. austin

    There is a meaning of life, but us as humans are not supposed to know it or else we would be God and we would completely understand every problem that has ever arisen. The way I see it is that God put us on this planet to make decisions and want to morally follow and put your faith into God so you can enter Heaven. If we knew the meaning of life, we would find out life itself is pointless, and the way I equate it to is like being a student taking a test. If you know all the answers before hand there would be no logical reason to even take the test (grades aside). Just my thoughts on it.

  15. Mike Hertz

    I liked this article very much and agree with it whole-heartedly. I wrote a novel (unpublished, of course) called “The Miraculous Salvation of All Humanity by Artemus B. Kelso,” which basically asked the same questions that you do. The hero’s mother dreams that he will save all humanity from itself, and he does, in a strange sort of way. He discovers that the world, the universe, and — indeed — billions of other universes are all the figments of the imagination of three geeks living in a different dimension, and they have created all these universes — and us! — for their own amusement. In other words, the world and all of us have no real meaning.

    And if that is true, then what is the meaning of life, since nothing that we do will “achieve” anything of permanency or meaning beyond the moment.

    If you look at life from that point of view, then all that matters is generating happiness — and love is the greatest means of doing that — for ourselves and those who are important to us.

  16. Lisa

    Thank you! Wonderfully done!!

  17. Happy and content

    A very well written article, but It never ceases to amaze me how people can cope with not knowing the meaning of life. I feel very fortunate and blessed that I have known it all my life and have no idea how I would live each day without that knowledge. The meaning of life is this;

    God who loves us very much, created the earth and everything in it for us to live, love and learn forever in perfect health. He wanted us to enjoy life, work hard, have a loving family and many close friends. However, something went terribly wrong. He created us with free will as he didn’t just want us to obey him like a bunch of robots, but Adam and Eve, despite having the ability to make perfect decisions, decided they would be better off doing things their own way. Hence we are all paying for their mistake. But as soon as they made that decision, God lovingly already started planning to restore the earth to the way it was meant to be. You can read all of this in the first 3 chapters of the Bible. Don’t worry, better times are ahead. Please listen to Jehovahs Witnesses next time you see them. They teach people the Bible for free because they love people and want everyone to know the truth.

  18. Maurie

    Yes, life is short, and it can be much shorter for some than for others.

    Yes, life is precious, in large part because it is without individually predetermined longevity.

    But much more importantly, life is a gift that is not without a predetermined purpose. A purpose that was established by the Giver of the gift before it was given for the very first time.

    Until such time as one discovers THAT purpose, the gift of life can never be fully and rightly and joyfully (irrespective of circumstance) lived.

    And finally, it is not a gift given free of obligation. In the end, there will be an accountability to the Giver of the gift that will be justly, determinatively, and irrevocably measured.

    You are close when you write, “Perhaps, the only thing that matters is love.” What you fail to acknowledge is that we are only able to love because the Giver of the gift first loved us! Apart from that, we would know not even love. What a sorrow that would be.

  19. Tg

    Never write posts but just felt I ought to say your wonderful article is still giving people a wake up call.
    Passed it on to a few friends. Have printed it out to remind myself to live in the here and now. Something we all find hard to do. You put it so eloquently and as a result have given me the drive to change some things in my life.
    Thank you.

  20. Kenneth Hegler

    The meaning of life as I see it is to try to live right. I’m not talking about the living the American Dream, but treating people like you want to be treated! It just make sense to give people the same that we desire from them! Wouldn’t this be a better world if everyone did that? Most people live mainly to please themselves and only those whom they love. What about the respect and dignity that we should show others.

  21. Lost

    So what if you go after this need for love. You abandon fear & the chase for money. You believe in the good of mankind & the universe. You find a partner that completes part of what you seek & shares your love. Your bond is strong but incomplete. You both recognise completion is to create with that love. To create love. And as much as you both try conception is not possible. You have an 18month son. Your ‘a-ha’ moment came from him. The creation of your love with your husband. What if you couldn’t have him? What if you couldn’t create. What if you focused for years on end helping others find love & happiness. And now it’s your turn – except you don’t get a turn. The happiness you seek in creating love through love never occurs. Only pain & disappointment. What then?

  22. kensington

    And when love is lost…all is lost.

  23. An insightful blog post right there mate ! Thanks for posting !

  24. thoughtabout this

    I thought I wouldn’t tell anyone this, as it could possibly drive some people to suicide, or others may take comfort in it.

    The only meaning and purpose life has, are the ones you give it.

    You are just here because your parents had intercourse. Nothing more, nothing less. Why are those small trees in your neighborhood? Because someone decided to plant them there. Just because you are aware of your existence doesn’t make your life special, or meaningful. You just exist.

  25. Eric Saucier

    Life and all that is in it is a gift from the infinite mind / God;
    And the only way that life can go wrong is by the limited finite mind / Man.

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