What is the meaning of my life? Why am I here? What is the purpose of my existence? In order to figure out the answers for these philosophical questions, we ask ourselves even more complicated ones: What is the meaning of death? What if I am not here anymore? What is the purpose of my non-existence?
According to Caine’s brain/mind learning principles, the search for meaning is innate. In practice this means that everyone tends to filter input, organize information and experience, and ask questions according to what they are interested in and care about, and at a deep level there is a hunger for meaningfulness and purpose (Frankl, 2006; Hillman, 1996). The brain not only wants to make sense of what it learns, but also wants to know that learning has purpose and value.
Moreover, our brains are programmed to search for meaning through patterning. For instance, some people perceive faces in clouds or see the Virgin Mary in a grilled cheese sandwich. Likewise, conspiracy theorists tend to identify patterns and believe those patterns have a great significance. The experience of seeing meaningful patterns or connections in random or meaningless data is called Apophenia. It is the perception of patterns and connections where none exist.
According to Michael Shermer, our brains and nervous systems constitute a belief-generating machine which tends to connect the dots of our world into meaningful patterns that explain why things happen. Because our brains are not as simple as we think they are and because we are all “pattern seeking primates” who tend to search for meaning of all aspects of our lives, we keep searching for the meaning of life.
Let’s face the truth. Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer, says Joseph Campbell. I think we should stop asking ourselves existential questions. In order to escape the brain’s complexity, let’s start asking ourselves these simple questions instead: What meaning do I give to my life? What is the purpose of my life? What is most important to me in my life? What are my deepest values and beliefs? Adding purpose and values is the only way to live a meaningful life.
Quotes about the meaning of life:
I have learned that you can go anywhere you want to go and do anything you want to do and buy all the things that you want to buy and meet all the people that you want to meet and learn all the things that you desire to learn and if you do all these things but are not madly in love: you have still not begun to live. ― C. JoyBell C.
You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life. ― Albert Camus
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. ― Anaïs Nin
Life is problems. Living is solving problems. ― Raymond E. Feist
I believe that I am not responsible for the meaningfulness or meaninglessness of life, but that I am responsible for what I do with the life I’ve got. ― Hermann Hesse
A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life. — Charles Darwin
There are only four questions of value in life, Don Octavio. What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for, and what is worth dying for? The answer to each is the same: only love. — Don Juan
I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations. — George Bernard Shaw
The first part of the Answer to the Question of the ‘Meaning of Life’ is about the way to truly Live. And that is to love and be loved by the people in your life with all your heart, and to seek to live in the Now – to strive to be present with them, and remember this mission and purpose through the struggles and the joy, and to share together the amazing journey of life. The second part is to see Life as more than your own life and your own time. To see that throughout time, humanity has shared a vision of ‘peace on earth’. And though it is an impossible dream, only a life lived in service to humanity – in honor of this shared goal – can help to validate the struggles of the 93 billion people who have lived and died, the 7 billion dreams of those alive today, and the hope of humanity to come. The third is to find a balance between the two – between living your individual life to the fullest, while striving to help humanity evolve to a higher consciousness of compassion, meaning and purpose. — Robert Alan Silverstein