What’s the Purpose of Life? Knowing the Answer Can Help You Live Longer

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The beginning of a new year tends to have many people reflecting over the previous year and setting goals for the upcoming one. One thing that many people tend to ponder at this time is, “What is the meaning of life?”

It’s an enormous question that doesn’t have a simple, straightforward answer. Despite this, it’s a question of great importance both philosophically and practically. It affects us in remarkable ways, including how we choose to live our lives. However, not all people give themselves enough time to really think of an appropriate answer. Many people cannot formulate a good response in less than a minute, deterring them from coming up with a real answer.

Actual Benefits of Finding the Answer

There are benefits to coming up with an answer to this question, though. Two separate studies have been published, which showed that people who could articulate the meaning and purpose of their lives lived longer than those who viewed their lives as aimless. The first study included 9,000 participants around 65 years old, while the other included 6,000 people aged 20 to 75. It didn’t seem to make a difference if the meaning was a simple two-word answer or more in-depth. It also didn’t seem to matter if the meaning they had was personal, such as finding happiness; creative, making art for the world; or altruistic, such as making the world a better place. Being able to give an answer to the question was what really mattered.

The connection between knowing the meaning of your life and how long your live could be casual, which means that having a purpose in life helps one cope with the daily stressors. However, it could also be more complicated in that people who take the time to think about the meaning of life are more likely to make choices regularly that promote a healthy lifestyle. (Thinking Positive May Enhance Your Life – Why Not Try It?)

One of the best things about this question and the reason you should regularly ask yourself this question is that your answer can change during different phases of your life. There is no “right” answer to the meaning of life. Only the solutions that are right for you at any given time.

Answers Given by Great Thinkers

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Many great thinkers have given this particular question a lot of thought. So, if you are looking for inspiration, their words are an excellent place to begin. Here are the answers from five great thinkers to help you get started.

The Greek philosopher Plato lived more than 2,300 hundred years ago. His conclusion to the meaning of life was only “love can light that beacon which a man must steer by when he sets out to live the better life.”

Leo Tolstoy was a Russian author who wrote: “The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity.”

Albert Einstein viewed it this way: “Only a life lived for others is worthwhile.”

Martin Luther King Jr. observed the meaning of life in the form of a question: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”

Finally, the Dalai Lama stated: “If we find we cannot help others, the least we can do is desist from harming them.”

Answers From Some VIPs

In more recent history, the meaning of life has been considered by people like Nelson Henderson, the Scottish rugby legend who poetically said, “The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”

Whoopi Goldberg uses a metaphor to express her meaning of life as being able to “throw little torches out to lead people through the dark.”

And perhaps most simply, Robert Byrne said, “The purpose of life is a life of purpose.”

Still, others have determined that the meaning of life is subjective. For example, author Anais Nin wrote in her diary: “There is not one big cosmic meaning for all. There is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an i

Whoopi Goldberg uses a metaphor to express her meaning of life as being able to “throw little torches out to lead people through the dark.”

And perhaps most simply, Robert Byrne said, “The purpose of life is a life of purpose.”

Still, others have determined that the meaning of life is subjective. For example, author Anais Nin wrote in her diary: “There is not one big cosmic meaning for all. There is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person.”

Find Your Own Answer

It only makes sense that each of us is going to have our own answer to the question. Which is why I recommend that you take a few minutes and think about and record your thoughts on what you view the meaning of life is. It is the type of exercise that will add meaning to your life because it will allow you to consider how your life has been influenced by your experiences and what is profoundly important.

I also suggest that you take the time to review your answer to the question, “What is the meaning of life?” once a year. While many people choose to do this on the first day of the year, there are other options. You can also do this on another day of importance throughout the year, such as on your birthday. By reviewing and modifying your answer, you will have more insight into yourself. Over time you will find yourself closer to a deep understanding of yourself.

Why Answers to this Question Differ

People might find their answers changing from being inspired by someone they admire to something simple, like making the world a better place. When you reach a point in your life where you are ready to settle down with someone, you might find that the meaning of your life is love. And when you find yourself at a stage in life where you are having children of your own, it might be something along the lines of continuing your DNA to the next generation. Ultimately, you will likely find that your answers each year are some unique combination of experience, happiness, helping others, legacy, and love.

When you are doing this exercise on an annual basis, one thing to keep in mind is not to look at your previous answers before writing down your new answer. Articulate your current response, and then take a few moments to compare it to the earlier years. Keep your answers together, and somewhere safe where you will be able to find them again in the future.

Finding Your Answer is Not Enough

Finally, ensure that you are taking steps to turn your answer into something actionable. For example, if you determine that life’s meaning is to help others, find ways to do it more. If your answer is “love,” then go out of your way to show more love.

This isn’t meant to be a theoretical exercise. This is intended to be a purposeful exercise to help you take steps towards a more meaningful and longer life.

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