What’s The Purpose of Life?
I casually mentioned in my 20 Life Lessons I Learned Overcoming Depression and Anxiety essay about a dear friend who is consumed by the question, “Why was I put on this Earth? What’s my purpose?”
I’ve thought about the very same question for many years and believe I finally have an answer.
The short answer is that there is no definitive answer.
The universe, life, nature, the world, whatever you want to call it, appears to us as purposeless. Think about it. Can you point to a star and say why it’s there? What purpose it’s serving?
Point to anything not made by man and figure out what its purpose is.
You can’t. It very well might have a purpose, but either by our intellectual constraints or the limits of our language, we cannot quantify it.
Let’s go smaller. What’s the purpose of a song? Is it to get to the end of it?
No, you listen because you enjoy every moment of it. It basically has no purpose. Trying to give it a purpose feels forced and inauthentic. Have you ever tried to listen to an album of educational songs? They’re horrible! That’s exactly what happens when you try to give something a definitive purpose that shouldn’t have one.
I believe the same is true for us. Not being man-made, our purpose is not known and can’t be known. But that doesn’t imply that there’s even a purpose to begin with, either.
Just like we can attribute any number of purposes to a song: to enrapture us, or thrill us, or delight us or teach us about love, we can do the same with our lives. We can define and assign a purpose for ourselves.
A lack of purpose doesn’t mean a lack of enjoyment or achievement or everything else. It only means there’s no specific definition or expectations of what you can or should do, so you’re free to pick and choose whatever you please. Isn’t that beautiful? What could be better than that?
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