Meanings of life

  • Instead of asking what is the meaning of life, simply ask yourself what puts meaning into your life? What moments would you like to increase? Take a break to think this over, write some of them down if you'd like, and read on...

    Many people come up with the same answers to this question: relationships, love, travelling, laughing, children, birth, experiencing and growing, nature. They can almost all be reduced to just three words - loving, learning (wisdom) and being happy.

  • To grow from all the experiences you're put through however tough, to take nothing personally, however painful,  to never give up finding peace in your mind and heart through it all, and to know you are never alone in the world.... There's always an open hand.

  • Plato: to pursue the good.

  • Epicurus: the greatest good is in seeking modest pleasures, to attain tranquillity and freedom from fear (ataraxia) via knowledge, friendship, and virtuous, temperate living; bodily pain (aponia) is absent through one's knowledge of the workings of the world and of the limits of one's desires. Combined, freedom from pain and freedom from fear are happiness in its highest form.

  • Marxism and communism: the meaning of life is to serve one another, in peace and with integrity as equal and just beings.

  • Albert Camus, the French Algerian philosopher who is often associated with existentialism but enthusiastically refused the term, is famous for propounding his theory of the Absurd. According to absurdism, there is a fundamental disharmony that arises out of the co-presence of man and the universe. Man has a desire for order, meaning, and purpose in life, but the universe is indifferent and meaningless; the Absurd arises out of this conflict.

    As beings looking for hope in a meaningless world, Camus says that humans have three ways of resolving the dilemma.

    • Suicide: The first solution to the dilemma is simply to end one's life. Camus rejects this choice as cowardly.

    • Religious belief in a transcendent world: Such a belief would posit the existence of a realm that is beyond the Absurd, and, as such, has meaning. Camus calls this solution "philosophical suicide" and rejects it because it amounts to the destruction of reason, which in his view is as fatal as suicide of the body.

    • Accept the Absurd: According to Camus, this is the only real solution. It is to accept and even embrace the absurdity of life and to continue living. The Absurd is a crucial characteristic of the human condition, and the only true way to deal with this is bold acceptance of it. Life, according to Camus, can "be lived all the better if it has no meaning".

  • Humanism affirms our ability, and responsibility, to lead ethical lives of personal fulfilment that aspire to the greater good of humanity. Humanists promote enlightened self-interest and the common good for all people. The happiness of the individual person is inextricably linked to the well-being of humanity as a whole, partly because we are social animals, who find meaning in personal relations, and because cultural progress benefits everybody living in the culture.

  • From a humanistic-psychotherapeutic point of view, the question of the meaning of life could also be reinterpreted as "What is the meaning of my life?". Instead of becoming bogged down in cosmic or religious question about overarching purpose, this approach suggests that the question is intensely personal. There are many therapeutic responses to this question, for example Viktor Frankl argues for "Dereflection", which largely translates as ceasing to endlessly reflect on the self, instead of engaging in life. On the whole, the therapeutic response is that the question of meaning of life evaporates if one is fully engaged in life. The question then morphs into more specific worries such as "What delusions am I under?", "What is blocking my ability to enjoy things?", "Why do I neglect loved-ones?".

  • Postmodernism: life has the meaning you ascribe to it in language. In other words, life means what you say it means.

  • Instinctism: the ultimate goal for every action they do is to attract the opposite sex. Instintism's central idea can be followed in this way:

    It is accepted that people are taught to learn in school. Why study hard? To receive good grades. Why receive good grades? To be able to go to college. Why go to college? To have a good occupation. Why a good occupation? To have wealth. Why wealth? To buy nice cars; to buy nice house; to buy nice products. Why all the nice things to make one look good? Ultimately to attract the opposite sex, to fulfil the basic need of reproduction and the continuance of the human race.

  • According to naturalistic pantheism, the meaning of life is to care for and look after nature and the environment.

  • In the Judaic world view, the meaning of life is to serve the one true God and to prepare for the world to come. The "Olam Haba" thought is about elevating oneself spiritually, connecting to God in preparing for "Olam Haba"; Jewish thought is to use "Olam Hazeh" (this world) to elevate oneself.

  • Christianity: in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, the first question is: what is the chief end of man?, that is, what is man's main purpose?. The answer is: man's chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy him forever. God requires one to obey the revealed moral law saying: love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbour as ourselves.

  • In Islam, man's ultimate life objective is to serve Allah (the Arabic equivalent for "God") by abiding by the divine guidelines revealed in the Qur'an and the tradition of the prophet. Earthly life is merely a test, determining one's afterlife, either in Jannat (paradise) or in Jahannum (hell).

  • Hindus believe that spiritual development occurs across many lifetimes, and goals should match the state of development of the individual. There are four possible aims to human life, known as the purusharthas (ordered from least to greatest): Ka-ma (wish, desire, love and sensual pleasure), Artha (wealth, prosperity, glory), Dharma (righteousness, duty, morality, virtue, ethics, encompassing notions such as ahimsa (non-violence) and satya (truth)) and Moksha (liberation, i.e. liberation from Samsãra, the cycle of reincarnation).

  • The goal of life is to know or realize that one's atman (soul) is identical to Brahman (one without a second).

  • The Buddhist sutras and tantras do not speak about "the meaning of life" or "the purpose of life", but about the potential of human life to end suffering through detaching oneself from cravings and conceptual attachments. Suffering can be overcome through human activity, simply by removing the cause of suffering.

  • The fundamental principles of Mahayana doctrine are based around the possibility of universal liberation from suffering for all beings, and the existence of the transcendent Buddha-nature, which is the eternal Buddha essence present, but hidden and unrecognised, in all living beings.

  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or Mormon Church, believe that the purpose of life is to experience a body, learn, serve, grow and be happy based on living a good, full life. In other words, the purpose of life is happiness, or joy, based on living according to the principles that will lead to that end. The difficulties people face in life are part of God's plan for them to learn what they need to, and God has promised he will give no "trial or tribulation" that is too hard to overcome.


Most the above taken (in some cases summarised) from Wikipedia. Full article can be found at