There comes a point in our lives where, no matter how successful we think we are, we’re bound to question why we’re here, what we're doing and where we’re going. Sometimes, posing these questions can help us evaluate our goals and lifestyle and improve them for better physical and mental health. In other cases – perhaps when we're feeling low or vulnerable – wondering what the point of life is can amplify feelings of depression, anxiety and emptiness.
As humans, we’re unique in the animal kingdom, among many other reasons because of our quest for finding fulfilment and happiness in life. We aim to do more than eat, sleep, reproduce, and stay safe. This quest for meaning has characterised humans since the beginning of times and it’s a central question in every culture. And according to scientists, the search for meaning seems to be coded into our nature: our brains are larger and with this comes the ability to appreciate things beyond meeting our basic needs.
And we can do more than appreciate the positive and joyful aspects of life. Trying to find meaning in negative experiences is also an ability that’s unique to humans, and that’s precisely what leads us to ask 'what's the point of life'. So how can we go about finding an answer? Let’s look at some practical ideas.
What if the purpose of life was finding a way to forget about the question 'what's the point of life?'! Maybe there’s no single thing that brings meaning per se, but the journey itself may be what helps us find purpose. And when we talk about the journey, we mean every aspect of it, from savouring the pleasant experiences to learning from mistakes.
What's the point of life? Both meaning and purpose
But for the journey to be meaningful, it must be the result of your own choices. Some people try to find meaning in wealth and fame, but this doesn’t have to be your story. As a living being, you’re in a unique position to decide what your purpose should be. We didn’t choose to be born, but we can choose how to live our lives and how to enjoy it.
“What if the purpose of life was finding a way to forget about the question 'what's the point of life?'”
To do that, it helps focusing on being consciously grounded in the present. Practising mindfulness creates a greater awareness of what it means to be alive. It helps your mind get more in touch with your emotions, reactions, and with your five senses. This type of clarity can open your eyes to things or experiences that help you to live your life with purpose. And mindfulness is not the only thing that can bring us clarity: there are some questions you can ask yourself to inspire your search for purpose.
The quest for meaning in life is so vast that the very thought of getting started can make you feel overwhelmed. Discovering what the point of life is is a lifelong journey and the steps and stages won’t be the same for everyone. However, there are some questions that you can put you on the right track to begin the journey of discovery.
As humans, we tend to focus on the present and in the future. If you examine your ambitions, you may find that they’re limited to what you want to achieve this year, next year, on in the next decade. But have you thought about what you’d want to be remembered for? The answer to this question is usually related to career or spiritual goals rather than material ones, and thinking about it can help bring into focus the true essence of your being.
There’s no shortage of serious problems in the world, and while it’s not always in our hands to solve them, thinking about which problem you’d give priority can hint at where your main concerns are. Once you know that, you can start looking for ways of doing your part. For example, if you find that you’d want to end world hunger, you may want to spend some time volunteering at a soup kitchen, or creating a community food garden.
We all know that time drags on when we’re doing something we dislike. But the opposite is also true: there are some activities that make time fly because they get our full attention and bring us a sense of fulfilment. Losing track of time when doing something is known as finding your flow, and it's a clear sign that the activity taps into the things that make us come alive. So, spending more time in those activities can help you enjoy a more meaningful life.
These questions are just the starting point: we’ve written an article about other ways to guide your search for meaning.
There’s no doubt that knowing what your purpose in life is can bring you closer to happiness. But if you’ve been trying to find out what your role in life is and have found no answer, don’t torture yourself. People’s experiences are different and not everyone will find the right answer at the same time.
Gratitude: having enough can be enough shutterstock/WAYHOME studio
What’s more, rushing into finding an answer will only put you under pressure and cause stress. Instead, try to see it from a different perspective: if you haven’t found an answer yet, simply “being” should be enough for now. Here are four suggestions on how to make that work:
The powers of gratitude are proven by science. Make a list of things you already have in your life that make you feel blessed and grateful. Through mindfulness practice, you can find abundance in these things, and you may find that having enough is… enough!
Life can feel like an uphill battle sometimes, at it's at those times when we might wonder what's the point of life or of going through hard times. However, discomfort in life is unavoidable and trying to find meaning in those experiences often leads to frustration. So, try to accept life for what it is and know that the hard times won't last for ever.
“Discovering what the point of life is is a lifelong journey and the steps and stages won’t be the same for everyone.”
Finding the meaning of life requires some analytical thinking, but sometimes logical reasoning doesn’t have all the answers. The key is to balance rational thoughts with intuition, which sometimes will contradict all logical arguments. Listen and trust that inner voice because it usually knows what’s good and right for you!
Some people seem to have their life’s purpose figured out, but comparing yourself to them isn’t helpful. 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.
So, what is the point of life? If there’s one thing that holds true for most of us, it's that the point of life is to live and experience things to the fullest, whatever that “fullest” means for you right now. Don’t rush your quest for meaning. Instead, make a point of finding joy in what you already have and try your best to feel grounded in the present. At some point, you’ll find the answer you’re looking for, and in the meantime, enjoy the journey! •
Main image: shutterstock/Song_about_summer
A social sciences graduate with a keen interest in languages, communication, and personal development strategies. Dee loves exercising, being out in nature, and discovering warm and sunny places where she can escape the winter.
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