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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.

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. With thanks! This is definitely an good web site.

  2. 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

  3. life is what you make it.

  4. Nice, good for introspection u had.
    you me, and all the world / universe is illusion; the LOVE is ultimate truth to feel the solitude of everlasting, endless happiness – SAT CHIT ANAND.
    The meaning of life is highly individualist – affected by endless know and unknown forces and factors – and appears to be SANKALMAI SHRISTI.
    The stimulus to the perceptual organs appears truth, though all perceptions in all living (can not say about non living) surely have their limits – and thus lack evidence; mostly called for to prove or disprove worldly truth. As every this changes with time; infect movements conceptualizes time – it changes, ever thing changes, everything; thus what really looks, heard and really not done. All this which looks real and possibly unreal and is
    ” different form sat and asat – sat asat se vilakshana anarvachnia” – having no word, meaning or to feel about, and the left is
    LOVE, Love and love .
    – a tag named ‘suresh’ ; really nonexistent

  5. Troy

    “In that moment, I understood…
    Perhaps, the only thing that matters is love.”

    These are the some of the most beautiful word I have ever read. Thank you!

    Please keep filling the world with your love and light.

  6. Good thoughts. You are so right on. But there is a single answer, a single truth to everything. You are Important. The title of my book on Amazon which goes straight to the heart of human truth and the meaning of life.

  7. Hi all,

    The point, I would offer, that there is no pre-ordained point to life as decreed by a deity or deities.

    So we must create our own meaning, we must create unity, and we must create our own lives, such as they are.

    We must evolve from the clever apes we are now who continue clinging to the myth and legend of religion, into our next stage of evolution where our consciousness can expand and help to integrate our species together and work with, not against the planet and its finite resources.

    Seems most chances we get to co-operate are derailed by the many tend who to tend to prefer to fight wars, based on, ‘My god being better than your god”.


  8. what a fantastic post.

    I’m about to write

    I always wanted to be wealthy, until I found out I already

    Please look for it.

    very inspiring


  9. Your best line in your post is: “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.” This is what I try to do along with trying to find serenity and spirituality whenever possible. Your post offers great insights with plenty to think about.

  10. Albert Hendry

    My life is not for me ,but for what I leave behind.

  11. Gerard Carrington

    I LOVED this article. Very well thought out and written. My mother passed and I am forced to contemplate what life is really all about. For me, this article really spoke for me. Love is the key, but at the same time, we must make a living and we also get distracted by minor things. GREAT article, loved loved loved it.


  12. matia mwase

    Life is a sword, complicated yet simple, subjective as well as objective by principle of live and die, so relative just as education and so elusive in nature.
    However, abiding by the principle of ”Do good wherever you are and that good will follow you wherever you will be”, can make life easy and interesting.

  13. justen clark

    The meaning of life is to find ones purposes in their existence and to follow it to the end

  14. Neha

    Yeah you r right…happiness really is always a reach away in our lives. Now I realised that we just have to find happiness at this moment instead of planning to get it in future through something else. Instant happiness is better and will definitely keeps us alive. Striving and planning to get happiness in future neither gives us guarantee of happiness nor it lets us to be happy in present. Destination is not important as it is only death.The journey is important which is nothing but life. :)

  15. Pat

    Thank you Tina Su for your inspirational posting- food for thought as I approach my 70th year. Pat x

  16. B.S.Deora

    Love Nature’s All Things Where u r leaving god is telling to you if all persons & nature are happy around you Then I give you Best bonus(Good Life). This is the Life. Love Everyone Everyone ……………

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