Disclaimer: I don't claim that what I say is totally "true," because the truth is elusive in this complicated world. Rather, I'm offering some ideas to help perceive the world and ourselves in a manner that opens pathways for change and growth.
The Ultimate Question
As far as most of us know, we only have one life to live. The odds against our existence are, quite literally, beyond comprehension. Out of some cosmic miracle that we don’t appreciate enough, we are here. One chance event after another had to occur for each of us to born into this world. This starts with the Big Bang and includes the countless factors that had to line up for life to evolve on this planet to your great grandparents randomly bumping into one another at a country grocery store.
The fact that we are living and breathing on this big blue marble we call Earth is statistically inconceivable. It might not always feel that way, but if we step back, we can see that this is true. We are all the winners of the biggest … lottery … ever!
Given that we defied all odds to exist, that begs the most important question that philosophers, theologians, and countless others have attempted to answer. We might even consider this The Ultimate Question: What’s the purpose of life? On a related note, how are we to live in a way that fulfills our purpose? Another way to think of this is: if we are the winners of the cosmic lottery, how are we supposed to spend our winnings?
An Answer to the Ultimate Question
“Conan, what is good in life?” Conan: “To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of the women.” —Conan, from the movie “Conan the Barbarian”
While everyone is entitled to have an opinion about why we are here and what to do with our lives, I’ll go on the record as disagreeing with Conan’s answer. I, of course, don’t have the answer either. However, I promise that I'm not going to say The Answer to the Ultimate Question is 42.
Your head might be spinning right now, because I just said that I am going to try to answer The Ultimate Question. However, I’m not arrogant enough to claim that I have The Answer. But I don’t think anyone has The Answer for that matter, although many people claim that they do.
Can you agree with me, even partially, that there are many ideas about the purpose of life? Even if you already believe in One Answer to The Ultimate Question, you still recognize that other people and groups have different answers to the same question. If there were just one, clear, unequivocal answer to The Ultimate Question, wouldn’t we all have the same one without any disagreements? In fact, would there even be an Ultimate Question if we all had the same answer to it? Assuming we can even agree upon the nature and wording of The Ultimate Question, the different answers can’t all be right…or can they? If you disagree with me, you actually agree with me because it proves that finding The Answer to The Ultimate Question is open to debate and different points of view!
I’m going to tell you a little secret about The Ultimate Question: There is no secret, "correct" answer to this question. How could I, or anyone else, have a secret answer to The Ultimate Question that few have stumbled upon? The “right” answer as to the purpose of life there is no single right answer. It would be more accurate to say that there are right “answers.”
Here’s what might really bake your noodle: You already know an answer to The Ultimate Question, but you might not know that you know it. Although I'm telling you what you already know, instead of that being a limitation, consider the possibility that this is where its power resides.
“All secrets are open secrets. Nothing is hidden. Nothing is revealed. People can only be told what they already know. Although they know, they may not be conscious of their knowledge.”—Camden Benares, from “Zen Without Zen Masters”
An Answer to the Purpose of Life
"Why are we here? Because we're here. Roll the bones. Roll the bones."—from the song "Roll the Bones" by Rush
We evolved so that we can live. Thus, we could also say that we live to evolve, so there's a circularity here. Evolution is the process that allowed organisms to survive and thrive. Humans, along with every living animal or plant, owe our existence to it. Our purpose is to "evolve" during our lifetime because that is consistent with our evolutionary purpose. Thus, an answer to The Ultimate Question of "What is the purpose of life?" is that we are here so that we can continue to live, adapt, learn, and grow. A purpose of life, and our purpose, is to continue to evolve.
We Evolved to Evolve
When we think of "evolution" as meaning as a process of learning, adapting, and growing to be more effective and efficient, we see evolution everywhere. Kids learn more advanced skills and concepts in school and this continues on through college and throughout their careers. Growth, in terms of profitability, is one of the primary goals of any business. Technology is always evolving—offering faster internet speeds, more powerful computers, better productivity tools, and more engaging and entertaining experiences. Athletes strive to improve their skills and performances through better nutrition and training methods. They aim to win more championships and set records. Musicians and artists want to become more technically proficient, creative, and successful. Communities and societies not only grow in number, but they try to serve the needs of the people to enable the citizens to live healthier, happier lives. Even with most religions, we seek to grow in our faith—to be a "better" Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or Jew.
On the biological level, learning recruits the reward systems in the brain so that the learning is reinforced. We evolved to grow and learn ... to become better than we were the day before so that we might survive and thrive. In general, we feel happy when we learn and grow. One could say that this happiness is a purpose of life as well, yet it could also be said to be the by-product of fulfilling our life purpose of learning and growing.
What is the purpose of life? An answer (as opposed to The Answer) to The Ultimate Question is that we exist to continue to exist. We evolved to evolve. This is fundamental to every living organism. Inherent to our existence is that we learn, adapt, and grow. Health, happiness, and longevity are the payoffs for this. Since our biological evolution is the foundation of our existence, a purpose of our lives is to continue to "evolve" during our lifetime by learning and growing. Each day, our purpose is to strive to be a little bit better than the day before and to continue this evolutionary process throughout our lifetime.
This purpose in life might sound like a simple, anti-climatic answer to The Ultimate Question, but there's more to this answer than at first glance. Our purpose in life to learn and grow throughout our lifetime also holds the key to how we should live our lives. Please join me as I explore this and related topics in future blogs!
For some people, purpose is connected to vocation—meaningful, satisfying work. For others, their purpose lies in their responsibilities to their family or friends. Others seek meaning through spirituality or religious beliefs. Some people may find their purpose clearly expressed in all these aspects of life.What is the true meaning of life? ›
Life is meaningful, they say, but its value is made by us in our minds, and subject to change over time. Landau argues that meaning is essentially a sense of worth which we may all derive in a different way—from relationships, creativity, accomplishment in a given field, or generosity, among other possibilities.What is the actual point of life? ›
The point of life is to live it in your own terms and at your own pace, and that should be the main focus. For the same reason, don't let other people's opinions affect you when it comes to what you find meaningful or how you go about finding your ambition, role or purpose.What is your purpose in life according to God? ›
The overarching message the Bible tells us is that our purpose is to bring glory to our Heavenly Father. We do that by worshiping Him, living our lives as an offering to Him, and sharing the Gospel with those around us.What is the purpose of life according to Jesus? ›
Therefore, for the Christian, we are to live to bring glory to God–how we do that is through prayer and study of His Word, the Bible, so that we might better know what He has for us. Here are several ways to glorify God in your everyday life.What does the 42 mean? ›
42 and the asterisk symbol
Forty-two is the ASCII code for the symbol * also known as the asterisk. This symbol is often thought to translate to anything or everything. In this instance, 42 = everything, the meaning of life.
It makes everyone around us better. The process that makes it happen feels almost magical. You won't believe it is possible until you see it for yourself — when you make your life meaningful, the meaning rubs off on everyone you love and they make everyone in their life better, and so on.What happens to a person after death? ›
During death, your body's vital functions stop entirely. Your heart no longer beats, your breath stops and your brain stops functioning. Studies suggest that brain activity may continue several minutes after a person has been declared dead. Still, brain activity isn't the same as consciousness or awareness.What is the point of life if you are not happy? ›
Emerson says: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”What does the Bible say is the purpose of life? ›
Examples of biblical purpose statements
“The purpose of my life is to know God and hear his voice so I can live a life of servanthood and obedience; then I will be a God-defined person and a non-anxious presence in every situation.”
He does expect us to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind. To love others as we love ourselves, and love others as Jesus loved us. Those are the do's and don'ts. God has given us the rulebook for living together on this planet.Why did God create us? ›
He created people out of love for the purpose of sharing love. People were created to love God and each other. Additionally, when God created people, he gave them good work to do so that they might experience God's goodness and reflect his image in the way they care for the world and for each other.What does rule 63 mean in texting? ›
What does Rule 63 mean? Rule 63, one of the self-styled rules of internet, declares: For every fictional character, there exists a gender-swapped counterpart of that character.What's the answer to the universe? ›
42 is the answer to the “ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything,” a joke in Douglas Adams's 1979 novel, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.What is your life meaning? ›
This is the belief that you are alive in order to do something. Think of purpose as your personal mission statement, such as “the purpose of my life is to share the secrets to happiness” or “I am here to spread love abundantly.” Significance: life's inherent value. This is the sense that your life matters.What is the most value of life? ›
- know what they need to do to achieve the things they want in their life or their business. ...
- fail to do these things! ...
- When was the last time you sat down and actually committed your goals to paper? ...
- What's the major purpose in setting goals?
- Live in the moment. We hear it all the time, but the present is really all we have. ...
- Share and give love to others. It will only enrich your life further.
- Keep learning. ...
- Know that nothing is permanent. ...
- Practice gratitude. ...
- Forgive others and yourself. ...
- Believe and dream. ...
- Do it.
- Try new things.
- Spend less time on your phone.
- Explore what gives your life meaning.
- Use wallpaper on your phone or computer to remind you to live life to the fullest.
- Keep your stress levels down.
- Live life with no regrets.
- Try daily affirmations.
- Do loving-kindness meditation.
Visual or auditory hallucinations are often part of the dying experience. The appearance of family members or loved ones who have died is common. These visions are considered normal. The dying may turn their focus to “another world” and talk to people or see things that others do not see.What is the last breath before death called? ›
Gasping is a brainstem reflex; it is the last respiratory pattern prior to terminal apnoea. Gasping is also referred to as agonal respiration and the name is appropriate because the gasping respirations appear uncomfortable, causing concern that the patient is dyspnoeic and in agony.
- Change Your Mindset.
- End Rumination and Engage in Problem Solving.
- Get Some Exercise.
- Develop Healthy Habits.
- Practice Meditation and Yoga.
- Reconnect With Joy.
- Consider Professional Help.
- Next in Small Ways to Feel Better When You're Depressed Guide.
- Practice gratitude.
- Work on mindfulness.
- Put yourself first.
- Be kind to yourself.
- Celebrate small wins.
- Rest and recuperate.
- Invest in yourself.
- Nurture positive relationships.
Happy people don't just enjoy life; they're likely to live longer, too. A new study has found that those in better moods were 35% less likely to die in the next 5 years when taking their life situations into account.What are the 3 meanings of life? ›
The three meanings of meaning in life: Distinguishing coherence, purpose, and significance.What is the meaning of life literally? ›
“The literal meaning of life is whatever you're doing that prevents you from killing yourself.” ― Albert Camus.What is the perfect meaning of life? ›
“Free from any flaw or defect,” is one of the definitions of the word perfect. And that is something we are usually running after — to have a life without flaws or defects, a life where nothing can go wrong, where there's no trouble, where you don't have to worry about anything.What is the main symbol of life? ›
The ankh symbol—sometimes referred to as the key of life or the key of the nile—is representative of eternal life in Ancient Egypt. Created by Africans long ago, the ankh is said to be the first--or original--cross.What are the 3 B's of life? ›
I call it “The Three Bs”: to believe, to belong and to be loved. To believe in something so strongly it becomes your life's passion. To belong — and that's where the “special sauce” of the people in your life comes in. And to be loved — which is a direct result of your relationships in all realms.Why does life want to survive? ›
The desire to live and to reproduce are closely tied. Survival in very simple organisms means replicating themselves. Through evolution by natural selection, basic organisms became increasingly complex, resulting in humans, butterflies, lions, spiders etc.What is human life about? ›
Human life means a human person and is the biological development of the species homo sapiens that begins when a human egg is fertilized by a human sperm and continues to develop as a living organism.
Aristotle argued that the good life is a happy life. “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence,” he said. Epicurus observed that the key to a good life is avoiding pain, abstaining from unnecessary desires and being grateful for what you have in life.What is life answer in one word? ›
1. We all know the meaning of life in a single word: survival.