Find Your Life’s Meaning

Does your life have meaning?

If so, how? The answer helps you appreciate your blessings and seize your opportunities.

Having a clear idea of the answer is in itself a blessing. Most people have no idea.

They trudge through life, day after day, not knowing why they do it. Sometimes they feel happy. Often they feel miserable. And then it’s over.

Is that all there is? Can that be all there is?

Here’s the good news: It isn’t and it can’t.1

Meaning is connection. We give meaning to words by connecting them to things in the world.

We give meaning to our lives in the same way, but we connect them to different kinds of things:

  • Beliefs and moral ideals
  • Relationships with people
  • Participation in communities
  • Working for important goals

If your life feels meaningless, it’s because you haven’t yet found the meaning.

You can find it, but there’s a catch.

There’s a time limit. You know what it is, but not when it is.

The time limit might seem like a bad thing, but it really isn’t.

Consider the painting shown at the top of this blog post: “School of Athens” by Raphael (1483-1520). It’s one of humanity’s greatest artworks. But it’s limited in space: 16 feet wide by 25 feet tall. If it were unlimited, people would see it everywhere they looked. They’d want it to go away. It would lose its beauty.

Or think about your favorite song (here’s mine). It’s limited in time. It starts and it ends. You enjoy it. But if it went on forever, you’d get so sick of hearing it that you wouldn’t want to listen to it anymore. It would lose its beauty.

Just like the painting and the song, your life is limited, both in space and in time. It is within those limits that you can find meaning and create something beautiful.

Whether it’s faith, relationships, communities, or goals, the meaning is something beyond yourself. Somehow, it speaks to your heart. It makes everything worthwhile.

So find it and do it. Connect. Act now. It’s a limited-time offer.

Footnote

  1. Different religious faiths have their own answers. I’m not addressing those here.

Check out my book Why Sane People Believe Crazy Things: How Belief Can Help or Hurt Social Peace. Kirkus Reviews called it an “impressively nuanced analysis.”

About N.S. Palmer

N.S. Palmer is an American mathematician.
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