Within the walls of this website are multitudes of valuable tools and ideas to help you LIVE A JOYOUS LIFE OF MEANING AND PURPOSE.
That’s why this site is here.
And as you’re moving along, especially if you’ve just arrived, you may be thinking a few questions to yourself:
- “What is the meaning of life?” And, hmmm…what does that question really mean and imply?
- How do I start with a question like this? How do I frame my thinking around life’s big questions?
- What is the value of all this depth and breadth?
- Where does spirituality come into play with all this? How does my impermanence of this life inform my ideas on life and meaning?
What is “THE question?”
This question in itself can be hairy. As Douglas Adams parodied in his famous book/movie The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, finding the question may be even more difficult than finding the answer.
Hilarious as it may be, the way in which we frame our existential dilemmas is a subject of intrigue that has enlivened philosophy, religion, and just about every single individual in human history.
Probably the most common form of the question is this:
What is the meaning of life?
For many people around the world practicing religion, the answer to this question is a given. And, there is more:
What is A meaning IN life?
There are many other ways of asking these core considerations about meaning and life.
So, we made a page that collects some of our favorite forms of these big questions.
Check it out here:
Here’s the thing…
We can agree that people want to live life well. Across cultures, all people share a common desire to live the best possible life. For some, that means living “right.” For some, “happy,” “fulfilled,” or “flourishing” define that goal.
Here in the early 21st century, we live in a unique time of opportunity for understanding and living according to these goals. Scientific research has already been uncovering clues to the secrets of happiness for decades.
And perhaps one of the most concrete answers to a life well-lived that we have found is this: Meaning.
So, let’s look at the question again, and dissect it: “What is the meaning of life?”
A couple of sneaky assumptions are already made by framing the question that way.
- “THE” implies that there is one be-all-end-all answer to questions of meaning.
- “OF” asserts meaning as a latent, intrinsic aspect of existence itself. This assertion is commonly made by the religions of the world.
Many people in the world welcome this framing as a pertinent and immutable truth of their lives. It is an essential part of their worldview.
And that is valid.
However, in addition to an of/the framing, there is an equally valid—and mutually compatible—framing; one that is both more obvious and more commonly overlooked: “A” and “In.“
What is meaning?
In a most simple sense, meaning is a human experience. Existentially speaking, “Meaning is the personal significance of something physical or abstract. This would include the assigning of value(s) to such significance.” -from the Wikipedia page on meaning.
So, meaning is, in its most relatable form, a subjective assessment of an experience. Every individual person experiences meaning differently, as A sense or sensation IN a moment of their life.
Independent of an optional “of” and “the” framing, meaning is an occurrence within the human experience. Meaning, as an experience, happens IN life. It can be assessed and measured as an amount that a person feels in their life as a whole, or even within a single experience. I.e. “I ate some cereal. That experience wasn’t very meaningful to me,” or “Standing there and witnessing a person being born was a hugely meaningful thing for me to witness!”
We’re dealing with the semantic problem of needing two different words in the place of “meaning”: one for meaning ‘of’ ‘the’ reality we live in (which is openly debated), and one for ‘a’ sense we experience ‘in’ life.
How we relate to meaning in our life may fluctuate and grow. As we experience different levels of consideration, the importance we put on meaning changes.
For many, seeing the importance of meaning in life comes naturally with growing older and wiser. This tendency corroborates what researchers in psychology are finding about the importance of meaning in life.
Meaning is crucial!
A Model of Well-Being
Although meaning is a different experience for each of us, there are commonalities. We share some threads, imparted to us by our evolutionary history, that span cultures, races, and time periods. They can provide us with a general idea of the human experience.
The primary model you will find on this site breaks down well-being into four primary elements: Ephemeral Pleasures, Flow & Engagement, Perspective, and Meaning in Life.
Meaning, the fourth and most crucial element of well-being, is itself broken down into four cornerstones: Service, Expression, Love, and Discovery. The Landscape of Meaning metaphor explores how these cornerstones interact with spiritual traditions, are informed by relationships, and more.
And applied meaning—especially in work and skillful endeavors—is explored extensively in the section on Purpose.
The above video is from the section on Happiness as a Hindrance. In that section, you can learn in detail how ‘happiness’ itself, can—and in today’s world often does—create a life hindered from deeper meaning and joy.
Check out the video above for a helpful overview, and/or check out these pages for more breakdowns of the models across this site:
Where To From Here?
This site is a full and fertile garden of theory, practice and exercises, and resources covering SO MANY factors of well-being.
How to explore it is up to you.
More ‘Consideration’ Pages
The ‘Mood’ Pages
Perhaps you’re feeling like this is all a bit too much. Maybe you’re simply feeling light-hearted about the subject at the moment.
If you’d like, you can be guided along through a gallery of videos and music designed to get you in the mood to think about life.
Here, you’ll be offered media to tickle your curiosity and inspire your perspectives.
Think of these pages like collections of low-stakes resources from around the web on the theme of life.
Forms of the Question
A fun collection of alternative questions to “What is the meaning of life?” that inspire thought and clarity.
Grief, Loss, Death, and Dying
This extensive section will share the ins and outs of the (natural) process of human grief, as well as orientation toward loss and dying.
It will present techniques for grieving, supporting others who are grieving, and relating to death in a healthy way.
Spiritual (and Non) Traditions
This section contains pages that explore the faith-based approaches to life from around the world.
This site doesn’t advocate for any particular religion or non-religious perspective. And, you may find interesting lenses here, as religion still aids most of the world in consideration of life.