What is The Meaning of Life: Is It Life Itself?

 / 

,
What is The Meaning of Life

What is the purpose of existence or the true meaning of life? Has this question ever occurred to you? The key to life’s meaning is simpler than you think, to your surprise, it is Life Itself. Confused? Let’s continue reading to find out how!

We find meaning when we “wake up” and experience life and the world more fully.

What is the Simple Meaning of Life?

What is the meaning of life? The question has become a slightly ridiculous cliché, so it’s difficult to answer seriously. In fact, I would guess that many intellectuals and academics would argue that life has no real meaning.

According to the conventional scientific view, we human beings are just chemical machines (or “throwaway survival machines,” in the phrase of arch materialist Richard Dawkins) whose only purpose is to survive and reproduce our genes. Otherwise, there isn’t really much of consequence in our lives.

The Meaning of Life
What is The True Meaning of Life: Is It Life Itself?

We may attempt to create other kinds of meaning — for example, by following a religion, trying to become rich or famous, or trying to make the world a better place — but all we’re really doing is following our genetic and neurological programming. Even our consciousness, the feeling of having experience inside our own heads, may not really exist, or may exist only as a kind of shadow of our brain activity.

However, I take the rather unfashionable view that there is meaning to life. I don’t think we are just ghost-like entities living inside our machine-like bodies with an indifferent machine-like world out there. I don’t think that human life is just a meaningless space between birth and death, for us to spend trying to enjoy ourselves and forgetting the futility of everything.

I think that human life and the world mean much more than that. And this is not because I am religious — In fact, I consider myself an atheist.

So what do I think is the meaning of life? Disappointingly, it’s difficult to put into words. But let me try to describe it.

Suffering-Induced Transformational Experiences

My perspective is informed by the research I have done over the past 10 years or so on people who have undergone what I call suffering-induced transformational experiences (or SITEs, for short).

These are people who were diagnosed with cancer and told that they only had a short time left to live, people who suffered bereavements, who became seriously disabled, who lost everything through addiction, and so on. In some cases, they had close encounters with death during combat or survived heart attacks or serious accidents.

What all these people have in common is that through undergoing intense suffering, they “woke up.” They stopped taking life, the world, and other people for granted. They gained a massive sense of appreciation for everything — a sense of the preciousness of life, their own bodies, the other people in their lives, and the beauty and wonder of nature.

They felt a new sense of connection to other people, to the human race, to the natural world, and even to the universe as a whole. They became less materialistic and more altruistic. Trivial things (like material possessions and career advancement) became more trivial, while important things (like love, creativity, altruism) became much more important. They felt intensely alive, and also that the world itself had become intensely alive.

Related: The 3 Stages in the Midlife Search for Meaning

Some Examples Of SITEs

As one woman who had been diagnosed with cancer said (several years after the cancer was in remission), “I’m just so, so fortunate to be alive on this planet . . . I just feel so privileged to be on this Earth and to have been given this awareness.”

A recovering alcoholic told me, “It’s very comforting and very empowering, and it makes you feel very safe . . . It’s a knowing that you are a part of something far more wonderful, far more mysterious.” One woman who was seriously injured — and almost died — in the 2005 terrorist attack in London said, “From the moment I was given the option of choosing life, I made a vow: that if I survived, I would live a full life, a good and rich life. I vowed that I would never take anything — all that I have — for granted again. I would never forget how precious every single day is.”

Another person who almost died through drowning described how he now had “a great sense of appreciation for the little things — not just the spectacular beauty of a flowering tree, but the beauty of even the most insignificant objects, even inanimate objects.”

Related: How To Find A Purpose in Life and Give Your Life Meaning?

One person addressed the topic of meaning specifically, describing how “my goals changed from wanting to have as much money as possible to wishing to be the best person possible, and to have as large of a helpful impact on the world as I can do. Before, I would say, I didn’t really have any sense of a meaning of life. However, after, I feel the meaning of life is to learn, grow, and experience.”

It’s important to point out that none of these people were (or became) religious. This wasn’t the kind of “born-again” experience that some Christians talk about, although many people did feel as if they had a new kind of identity, even to the point of feeling like they were, as one person put it, a different person living in the same body. It’s also important to point out that the change wasn’t just temporary. In most cases, it remained stable over many years.

Overall, I think the transformation can be described in terms of finding new meaning in life.

Experiencing Meaning In Other Situations

What is The Meaning of Life
What is the purpose of existence?

Fortunately, we don’t just have to go through intense suffering to experience these effects. There are also certain temporary states of being when we can sense meaning. Usually this is when our minds are fairly quiet, and we feel at ease with ourselves — for example, when we’re walking in the countryside, swimming in the ocean, or after we’ve meditated or done yoga, or after sex.

There is a sense of “rightness” about things. We can look above us at the sky and sense something benevolent in it, a harmonious atmosphere. We can sense a kind of radiance filling the landscape around us, emanating from the trees and fields. We can sense it flowing between us and other people — as a radiant connectedness, a sense of warmth and love. We feel glad to be alive and feel a wide-ranging sense of appreciation and gratitude.

In other words, we find the meaning of life when we “wake up” and experience life and the world more fully. In these terms, the sense that life is meaningless is a kind of distorted, limited view that comes when we are slightly “asleep.” In our highest and clearest states of being, we perceive a meaning that we sense is always there — and that somehow we previously missed. When our awareness intensifies, and our senses open up, there’s a sense of returning home, back to meaning.

In one sentence, the meaning of life is life itself, and everything that constitutes life.

Read more: 4 Ways to Find The Purpose Of Your

The simple meaning of life is to actively appreciate and live every minute of your existence. Don’t spend time trying to figure out what it all means; instead, concentrate on the present!


Written by: Steve Taylor Ph.D.
Originally appeared on: Psychology Today
Republished with permission
What is The Meaning of Life pin

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Up Next

Unpacking Parentification Trauma: The Burden of Growing Up Too Soon

What Is Parentification Trauma? Seven Types, Effects and Healing

The excitement of childhood is beautiful, when your biggest worry was whether your favorite cartoon was on TV. Some kids don’t have a childhood as carefree. Parentification trauma becomes a real issue when a child is thrust into the shoes of a grown-up.

The child takes on responsibilities beyond their years. It’s like playing a role in a movie you didn’t audition for. This is the reality for those who’ve experienced the issue – a lesser-known yet impactful challenge that shapes lives in unexpected ways.

What is Parentification Trauma?

It might be your question, though–what is parentification trauma? The trauma occurs when a child is placed in a role that reverses their expected position within the family dynamic.



Up Next

Why Is It Important To Follow Your Dreams and How They Can Transform Your Life

Why Is It Important To Follow Your Dreams? Six Clear Reasons

Do you have dreams that seem too big or too difficult to achieve? You should pursue them anyway! Why is it important to follow your dreams? Read on to get inspired!

In a world often dictated by practicality, the whimsical pursuit of dreams can seem like a luxury. Yet, throughout history, there have been countless examples of people who took the leap of faith, pursued their passions, and changed the world.

Pop culture is also rife with stories and figures who underscore the importance of chasing one’s dreams.

So, let’s dive into some compelling reasons for following your dreams and building your dream life!



Up Next

5 Tips To Reframe Negative Thoughts To Positive Ones

Five Tips To Reframe Negative Thoughts To Positive Ones

Ever felt like your brain was playing a never-ending loop of that catchy song you heard once, except it’s a series of negative thoughts? You’re not alone! Dive into this joyride of understanding our quirky brains and learn the secrets to reframe negative thoughts into positive power anthems!

Tips And Strategies To Reframe Negative Thoughts 

A recent study unve



Up Next

How To Win At Life

How To Win At Life: Strategies For Achieving Greatness

Life is an exciting and awe-inspiring journey filled with challenges & opportunities. Each of us aspire to achieve success, fulfillment, and happiness. But what does it truly mean to win in life? And how to win at life?

Winning at life is not just about accumulating wealth or achieving external recognition. It’s about finding purpose, balance, and personal growth in every aspect of our existence.

Let’s explore 40+ powerful strategies that can empower you to win at life.

How to win at life



Up Next

What Is Spiritual Health And Reasons Why You Should Never Ignore Your Spiritual Wellness

What Is Spiritual Health? Twelve Signs of Good Spiritual Health

Do you feel something’s lacking in your life? If a successful, busy, and thriving existence cannot fill up that vacuum inside you, it’s time to check your spiritual health!

In a world that often prioritizes material success and external achievements, it’s easy to overlook a profound dimension of human well-being: spiritual well-being.

Just as physical, mental, and emotional health contribute to a balanced and fulfilling life, so does spiritual well-being play a crucial role in shaping our overall sense of contentment, purpose, and connection to the world around us.

In this article, we delve into the spiritual wellness definiti



Up Next

Greetings From August: 25 Hello August Quotes For A Bright Summer

Hello August Quotes For A Bright And Hopeful Summer

Step into the sunlit embrace of August, where summer’s golden glow casts its enchanting spell upon us. As we bask in the warmth of this vibrant month, let us embark on a delightful journey filled with inspiration and optimism, with these hello August quotes!

This collection of light-hearted and uplifting August quotes and sayings are designed to ignite your spirit and infuse your days with renewed motivation. Like a gentle breeze whispering secrets of possibility, these August sayings will accompany you on your path of growth and self-discovery.

Picture yourself savouring lazy afternoons, relishing the taste of ripe fruits,



Up Next

What Is Naturalistic Intelligence? 20+ Simple And Fun Naturalistic Intelligence Activities You Must Try

Naturalistic Intelligence Activities For All Ages

Have you ever been in awe of someone who seems to have an innate ability to connect with nature? This is known as naturalistic intelligence, a type of intelligence that is often overlooked and undervalued in our society. Let’s explore naturalistic intelligence definition and naturalistic intelligence activities.

What is naturalistic intelligence?

Naturalistic intelligence definition: Naturalistic intelligence refers to our ability to recognize and classify plants, animals and other objects in nature. 

It allows us to make connections with the natural world and derive meaning from our surroundings