Three Simple Ways To Find The Meaning Of Life

For example, children should hold a greater love for their parents than for random strangers. Per secular humanism, the human species came to be by reproducing successive generations in a progression of unguided evolution as an integral expression of nature, which is self-existing. Human knowledge comes from human observation, experimentation, and rational analysis , and not from supernatural sources; the nature of the universe is what people discern it to be. Likewise, “values and realities” are determined “by means of intelligent inquiry” and “are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience”, that is, by critical intelligence. “As far as we know, the total personality is of the biological organism transacting in a social and cultural context.” There’s a lot of people out there pretending to be someone they’re not. After all, the pressure to fit in and to conform is very strong.

Try to notice how those values might bring more meaning to your life today and your future. For example, if honesty is one of your core values, asking yourself what you might do to move in line with honesty and what different actions you can take in the future that are consistent with honesty can give you new directions. Casey Woodling, a professor of philosophy and religious studies at Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina, proposes in Philosophy Now that the question of meaningfulness itself offers an answer. “What makes a human life have meaning or significance is not the mere living of a life, but reflecting on the living of a life,” he writes. Moving into new chambers opens up the way for new possibilities to emerge, allowing our life purpose to evolve.

Find A Balance Between Seeking Happiness And Meaning

The truth is we all have the ability to experience inner peace; sometimes, it even takes counseling on mindfulness, meditation, and reflection to learn how to let go, but the important point is anyone can get there. We have no choice but to engage in tasks such as laundry, dishes, and errands.

  • Sartre’s account is actually quite similar to Heidegger’s in this respect since for Heidegger the meaning of our lives is that we die.
  • Therefore, rather than setting meaning as a goal, perceiving it as a side-effect of other goals and activities (e.g., connecting to others or helping others) might serve better.
  • According to McKnight and Kashdan , “the creation of goals consistent with one’s purpose may be critical to differentiating between real purpose and illusory purpose” (p. 249).
  • Adolf Hitler, on the other hand, was important in a negative sense since his policies caused widespread suffering to innumerous people.
  • Similar patterns are found in the closed-ended questions, in which fully half of black Americans (52%) say they derive “a great deal” of meaning from their religion, compared with 37% of Hispanic Americans and a third of white Americans.

This will help you when you are feeling less motivated because it gives you an opportunity to re-motivate yourself, and to see how far you’ve already come. Or you may list things like creativity, growth, helping others, freedom, curiosity. WikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 100% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status.

Stepping Out Of “autopilot” And Creating More Meaningful Moments

That does not have to be a lengthy process, but spending a few hours every couple of years might be enough . To my surprise, most of the people with whom I have talked about the meaning of life have told me that they did not think that their lives were meaningful enough. But I have often found the reasons my interlocutors gave for their views problematic. Many, I thought, did not pose relevant questions that might have changed their views, or take the actions that might have improved their condition. (Some of them, after our discussions, agreed with me.) Most of the people who complained about life’s meaninglessness even found it difficult to explain what they took the notion to mean.

While that may sound coy, many philosophers offer similar responses, although few as pithy. Philosopher Richard Taylor proposes that efforts and accomplishments aren’t what make life matter, writing in the 1970 book Good and Evil, “the day was sufficient to itself, and so was the life.” In other words, because we live, life matters. For subjectivists, depending on who and where we are at any given point, the value of any given activity varies. Life is meaningful, they say, but its value is made by us in our minds, and subject to change over time.

Abrahamic Religions

One important strategy is to suggest that subjectivists can avoid the counterexamples by appealing to the right sort of pro-attitude. Even here, though, objectivists will argue that it might “appear that whatever the will chooses to treat as a good reason to engage itself is, for the will, a good reason. But the will itself….craves objective reasons; and often it could not go forward unless it thought it had them” . And without any appeal to objectivity, it is perhaps likely that counterexamples would resurface. A second argument for the view that life would be meaningless without a soul is that it is necessary for justice to be done, which, in turn, is necessary for a meaningful life. Life seems nonsensical when the wicked flourish and the righteous suffer, at least supposing there is no other world in which these injustices will be rectified, whether by God or a Karmic force. Something like this argument can be found in Ecclesiastes, and it continues to be defended (e.g., Davis 1987; Craig 1994).

how to create meaning in life

The elements discussed above provide the context for developing a potentially effective life-crafting intervention. Although most agree that describing an ideal vision of the future would be a key element of such an intervention, below we identify other elements that should be included, whether the intervention is designed to improve well-being, happiness, performance, or all of these. According to McKnight and Kashdan , “the creation of goals consistent with one’s purpose may be critical to differentiating between real purpose and illusory purpose” (p. 249). Recent research also showed that it is better to have no calling than an unfulfilled calling (see Berg et al., 2010; Gazica and Spector, 2015), making it also a boundary condition that people follow through on this. The importance of following through was shown in a 15-week study aimed at finding out whether engaging in trait-typical behaviors predicted trait change (Hudson et al., 2018).

As in moral philosophy, there are recognizable “anti-theorists,” i.e., those who maintain that there is too much pluralism among meaning conditions to be able to unify them in the form of a principle (e.g., Kekes 2000; Hosseini 2015). Arguably, though, the systematic search for unity is too nascent to be able to draw a firm conclusion about whether it is available. According to this approach, inquiring into life’s meaning is nothing other than seeking out sense-making information, perhaps a narrative about life or an explanation of its source and destiny. Another claim about which there is substantial consensus is that meaningfulness is not all or nothing and instead comes in degrees, such that some periods of life are more meaningful than others and that some lives as a whole are more meaningful than others. Note that one can coherently hold the view that some people’s lives are less meaningful (or even in a certain sense less “important”) than others, or are even meaningless , and still maintain that people have an equal standing from a moral point of view. For both moral outlooks, we could be required to help people with relatively meaningless lives. Focusing on meaning in life, it is quite common to maintain that it is conceptually something good for its own sake or, relatedly, something that provides a basic reason for action .

The Reality Of Meaninglessness

Another helpful pro tip is to start a simple meditation practice, even if it’s five minutes a day. Meditation will support you and help you develop the rest of your healthy habits. Now, these questions concern me, because as we all know, we only have one life, and I really do like my life, and I’m worried I’m not enjoying or appreciating it to the fullest. My days are a frazzled blur of child-rearing, work, errands, driving, cleaning, and cooking.

Some days I literally fall into bed wondering how it was even possible I accomplished everything I did while desperately searching for tidbits of fulfillment amidst the relentless grind. While these topics were not brought up frequently in the open-ended responses by any group, hundreds of white respondents mentioned pets or animals and nature or the outdoors. In contrast, fewer than 10 black respondents mentioned either topic. The absolute truths you suggest are concepts at best that in themselves will vary. Just because at this point in time, you believe in an absolute through, doesn’t mean it wont be invalidated like the previous examples. You seem to advocate Determinism as a higher level of meaning-making without providing valid logical reasons other than people like to eat a lot and drink and fall in a ditch. Finding your own meaning is contrasted to what “everybody else” thinks your meaning is and how you should be expressing yourself.

Meaning In Life: Part Of The Well

In their view, science can offer a wide range of insights on topics ranging from the science of happiness to death anxiety. You can make your life more meaningful by striving to achieve goals that allow you to express who you are. The previous two sections addressed theoretical accounts of what would confer meaning on a human person’s life.

Most analytic philosophers have been interested in meaning in life, that is, in the meaningfulness that a person’s life could exhibit, with comparatively few these days addressing the meaning of life in the narrow sense. Even those who believe that God is or would be central to life’s meaning have lately addressed how an individual’s life might be meaningful in virtue of God more often than how the human race might be.

As you can see from these examples, intentions are an ongoing process. They are not just something that can be achieved or “crossed off” your list.

From spraining your ankle to losing a loved one, life’s challenges can help you become a more compassionate person. For instance, if you’ve been through a breakup, you’ll be able to help a friend if their relationship ends. Even the smallest acts of kindness can help you make a mark on other people’s lives. From your loved ones to complete strangers, try to nurture your connections with others with kindness and generosity.

  • There exists, to use Henry Sidgwick’s influential phrase, the “point of view of the universe,” that is, the standpoint that considers a human being’s life in relation to all times and all places.
  • The moment you ask empowering questions and start living the answers, you will be making a statement to the universe declaring the life you wish to lead.
  • You can be successful handing out mailbox letter drops if it brings you happiness and fulfillment.
  • Spirituality is one way to make sense of life’s biggest questions, but it’s not the only source of order.
  • Now that you’ve written down your personal projects and goals, work on drawing concrete actions from them.
  • Try to come up with some aspects of yourself and your experience that remain constant over time.

The goals that foster a sense of purpose are ones that can potentially change the lives of other people, like launching an organization, researching disease, or teaching kids to read. If you find a deficit in a particular area of meaning, search for it in a productive way. Fortunately, you don’t have to figure out how to do it on your own—philosophical and religious traditions have been doing exactly that for millennia. One of the best organized strategies comes from Hinduism’s concept of the ashramas, or the four stages of a balanced life. The third is Vanaprastha—literally “retiring to the forest,” in Sanskrit—which ideally begins at about age 50 and entails stepping back from day-to-day demands to focus more on life’s deep meaning through reflection, meditation, and study. You can do a version of this at any stage of life by dedicating time each day to the search. For others, it requires the study of texts or working with masters.

Popular Views

The philosophical subgenres posthumanism and transhumanism are extensions of humanistic values. One should seek the advancement of humanity and of all life to the greatest degree feasible and seek to reconcile Renaissance humanism with the 21st century’s technoscientific culture.

Studies show that our overall well-being is deeply tied to the quality of our relationships,2 and the best way to build healthy relationships is through helping others. In fact, some studies have even found that giving stuff away makes us happier than giving stuff to ourselves.3 Go figure. The more work you do towards that problem, also the more meaning you will feel.

Trending In Meaning Of Life

The standard objection to this relational rationale is that a finite condition could be meaningful without obtaining its meaning from another meaningful condition. Most analytic philosophers writing on meaning in life have been trying to develop and evaluate theories, i.e., fundamental and general principles, that are meant to capture all the particular ways that a life could obtain meaning.

Also, the experimental group had less home-sickness and anxiety 2–3 months after the writing exercise. If you can’t shake feelings of emptiness or doubts about finding meaning in life, think about talking to a counselor. Life can be tough, and there’s no reason how to create meaning in life to be ashamed or afraid to sort things out with someone who’s trained to help. You might consider seeing a counselor, therapist, or other mental health professional, as if you’re having trouble finding meaning in your life, you may be suffering from depression.

Landau argues that anyone who believes life can be meaningless also assumes the importance of value. In other words, if you think life can be meaningless, then you believe that there is such a thing as value. As such, we can also increase or decrease the value of our lives with practice, effort, action, and thought. “I can ruin or build friendships, upgrade or downgrade my health, and practice or neglect my German.