Understanding The Meaning of Life

We humans have been struggling to understand the meaning of life since the beginning of modern civilization – perhaps even back to our transition from nomadic life.

Why is that?

Isn’t it enough to just be alive?

To live in the moment and enjoy breathing? Eating? Sleeping? Loving and being loved? Raising children? Having satisfying work?

Purpose v. Surviving

Most of the world spends their precious life surviving. Is survival the meaning of life? And when survival is on the line, the meaning of life is no longer a question. When life might end, it is something we fight for.

However, there is now a large percentage of the world that is not preoccupied most days with survival. And those people wonder, what is the meaning of it all? What is my purpose? How do I understand the meaning of  living aligned with my purpose?

Making Sense of if All

The Meaning of Life
The Meaning of Life

I am wildly curious how each of you make sense of this.

Hang on to your hat though, I do have something to contribute to the question. I was inspired to write this because my mid-morning tea bag had this on it:


“Let your need be to help those in need”


And the other one: (because I usually use two tea bags 😉 )


“The essence of life is to communicate love”


I had the immediate and unbidden thought that these ideas are so right on – and also completely insufficient. Yet, they are positioned as if they are the full answer.

Tea Bag Wisdom

Think about it. If one were to take the second statement as an example – and move through life communicating love, that would satisfy one particular need but leave a great deal unaddressed. Do you agree? Is loving alone the meaning of life?

So why is communicating love a valuable idea?  I would suggest it’s because many people focus on what isn’t right in the world and in their lives by default. It’s a natural human thing to do – we want to be attentive to what might pose a danger (or in our modern world, a potential problem rather than an actual danger). But the practice of indulging our default thinking without question leaves us at the effect of whatever paradigm we happen to have been conditioned by. And we are often conditioned by well-meaning teachers, pastors, parents, and others to be vigilant to the imperfections and problems in our environment – as if we can get it perfectly right. Yet, a focus on what’s wrong tends to send us spiraling into low-grade fear, at best. At worst we end up cynical and without hope.

Indulging our default thinking without question leaves us at the effect of our conditioning.

When we focus on communicating love (or gratitude), we end that spiral. So this saying has great value for that purpose. And, yet, it is an insufficient way to capture the core essence of life. Once we have truly developed the habit of communicating love and appreciation – then what? What is the meaning of life? I think we are left unsatisfied with communicating love as the true essence of life. What do you think?


Maybe we can turn to the first quote for what’s next?

“Let your need be to help those in need.”

Once we’ve developed the habit of love and gratitude in our communications (which requires that we develop that habit in our thinking, of course) – we could then turn to service. Service is absolutely the fastest way to get ourselves into constructive action, the most effective way to develop abundance (for ourselves and others), and the quickest way to beat a low mood. That’s incredibly useful! And yet again, being of service doesn’t address all of our human needs.

“Service is the fastest way to get into constructive action.”

Once we’ve used these philosophies to transcend fear and low moods – and we’ve upgraded our ‘being-ness’ to loving and serving, does that sufficiently address the essence of life? and satisfy our core needs? When you imagine your day spent communicating love and serving others – do you feel that is enough of a purpose in life? Is that way of living sufficient to feel connected, expressed, healthy, well-fed in all the spiritual, emotional, physical, and material world ways?


But, maybe not.

So what’s missing?

Wait, There’s More

I propose that we could help others in need every day, and feel higher in mood, lower in fear, and still feel depleted, and unsatisfied. Something more is needed.

I wonder, what if the essence of life is to create? And what if our irreducible need is to feel love and belonging (as Dr. Brené Brown says)? What if purpose is about values, alignment, and creating something meaningful? And what if joy and satisfaction, and that peaceful feeling of a life well-lived is the natural result of the essence, need, and creativity we’ve been exploring? Perhaps in that case, communicating love and serving others is a pathway, a way to find and align with our values … a way to connect with our most natural state of well-being.

Create For Life

What do you think?

For you, what is the essence of life? What is your most essential human need? How does this play out for you in your role as a leader?: as a contributor in your workplace?; as a parent or partner?; as a visionary? I look forward to your thoughts. …. Meanwhile, try out this life purpose and focus assessment (free) and see what shows up for you: LIFEQUIZ

Please comment here-I’d love to hear from you: LisaListens


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