What about you – what makes life meaningful? Comments welcome below…

The meaning of one’s life is determined by the choices one makes and the effort one exerts. Whether one’s life is meaningful or meaningless depends on whether or not one chooses to be rational and purposeful.

Of course, irrational choices and actions may be said to have negative meaning—in that they have anti-life consequences. But this does not grant them any moral validity. Taking life-destroying actions is not a means to an “alternative lifestyle.” Acting against one’s life and long-term happiness is not another way to live; it is only a way to die.

Now, contrast him to a young office clerk with the same potential, but who sets no such goals, takes no such actions, and stagnates as a clerk for the rest of his life. What will be the meaning of his days and years? What spiritual values will he achieve by means of his lethargy? The answer is obvious.

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The most widely held and influential God-based account of meaning inlife is that one's existence is more significant, the better onefulfills a purpose God has assigned. The familiar idea is that God hasa plan for the universe and that one's life is meaningful to thedegree that one helps God realize this plan, perhaps in the particularway God wants one to do so (Affolter 2007). Fulfilling God's purposeby choice is the sole source of meaning, with the existence of anafterlife not necessary for it (Brown 1971; Levine 1987; Cottingham2003). If a person failed to do what God intends him to do with hislife, then, on the current view, his life would be meaningless.

Meaning comes from the pursuit of more complex things than happiness

Supernaturalist thinkers in the monotheistic tradition are usefully divided into those with God-centered views and soul-centered views. The former take some kind of connection with God (understood to be a spiritual person who is all-knowing, all-good, and all-powerful and who is the ground of the physical universe) to constitute meaning in life, even if one lacks a soul (construed as an immortal, spiritual substance). The latter deem having a soul and putting it into a certain state to be what makes life meaningful, even if God does not exist. Of course, many supernaturalists believe that certain relationships with God and a soul are jointly necessary and sufficient for a significant existence. However, the simpler view is common, and often arguments proffered for the more complex view fail to support it any more than the simpler view.

What makes life more meaningful? - Quora

What I call “purpose theorists” differ over what it isabout God's purpose that makes it uniquely able to confer meaning onhuman lives. Some argue that God's purpose could be the sole source ofinvariant moral rules, where a lack of such would render our livesnonsensical (Craig 1994; Cottingham 2003). However, Euthyphro problemsarguably plague this rationale; God's purpose for us must be of aparticular sort for our lives to obtain meaning by fulfilling it (asis often pointed out, serving as food for intergalactic travelerswon't do), which suggests that there is a standard external to God'spurpose that determines what the content of God's purpose ought to be(but see Cottingham 2005, ch. 3). In addition, some critics argue thata universally applicable and binding moral code is not necessary formeaning in life, even if the act of helping others is (Ellin 1995,327).

Most English speaking philosophers writing on meaning in life are 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. These theories are standardly divided on a metaphysical basis, i.e., in terms of which kinds of properties are held to constitute the meaning. Supernaturalist theories are views that meaning in life must be constituted by a certain relationship with a spiritual realm. If God or a soul does not exist, or if they exist but one fails to have the right relationship with them, then supernaturalism—or the Western version of it (on which I focus)—entails that one's life is meaningless. In contrast, naturalist theories are views that meaning can obtain in a world as known solely by science. Here, although meaning could accrue from a divine realm, certain ways of living in apurely physical universe would be sufficient for it. Note that there is logical space for a non-naturalist theory that meaning is a function of abstract properties that are neither spiritual nor physical. However, only scant attention has been paid to this possibility in the Anglo-American literature (Williams 1999; Audi 2005).

Here’s what this therapist did to help people struggling with the meaning of life:

Read this essay on The Good Life as a Meaningful Life

Frederickson said that the problem isn’t with being happy but with meaningfulness being outweighed by happiness. This is when we risk affecting our immune systems in detrimental ways.

Self-actualization is actually what makes life meaningful

A published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Barbara Fredrickson and Steve Cole found that people who are happy but lack meaning in their lives show the same gene expression patterns as those who are struggling with prolonged adversity—their bodies are preparing to fight off bacterial infections. The problem with this is that if it continues in a prolonged state, it can increase the risks of major illnesses like cancer and heart disease, because the body is in a constant state of inflammation.

08/08/2017 · What is a true leader? Rabbi Simon Jacobson explains in this excerpt from his best-selling book, "Toward a Meaningful Life".

Beyond drawing the distinction between the life of an individual andthat of a whole, there has been very little discussion of life as thelogical bearer of meaning. For instance, is the individual's life bestunderstood biologically, qua human being, or instead as theexistence of a person that may or may not be human (Flanagan 1996)?And if an individual is loved from afar, can it logically affect themeaningfulness of her “life” (Brogaard and Smith 2005,449)?


We all find different things meaningful – ranging from spirituality to woodworking. The trick is to find what makes your life deep, rich, and fulfilling.