“What is the Meaning of Life?”

That’s ‘the’ question. At least, it’s the one we all hear.
Let’s see how it feels to ask some other (equally valid) forms of the question.

In simply knowing these questions—feeling familiar and curious about them—you will achieve a higher level of consideration of meaning in life. So play with them! Put them on your radar. Go through them, perhaps with a friend or family member. Ask, “Tell me more about that” and “What else?”

For nearly everyone, there is plenty of room to develop in our consideration of these questions. That’s great! Personal growth is the stuff of life, and this website aims to help YOU develop YOUR answers more fully.
This site does not advocate for, substitute for, or negate any particular religious (or non) tradition—simply well-informed wisdom for everyone, on life’s biggest questions.

Get the Printouts!

If you’d like, you can print these questions as PDF’s. The first of the two is a few of the focused questions, with blanks for you to write. The second is a more extensive list, which can use however you’d like.

The Big Questions

What is a life very well-lived?

  • Who am I? What do I love? What is love? How do I love more? How can I live my best life?
  • What are the qualities that make my life most worth living?
  • Looking back from the end of my life, what will I reflect on most fondly?
  • When I really think about it, what truly matters to me?
  • What top 10 qualities would you hope your children would have in their lives?
  • Is life about being happy? Am I happy?
  • Does life have a purpose? What’s mine?
  • I AM ALIVE! (whoa, cool) Now What?!
  • What lights you up? What stokes your fire? How/when do you come ALIVE?! How do your light and heat show up in (and for?) the world?

“Meaning OF Life” and “Meaning IN Life”

The cliché question—about the meaning OF life—implies an underlying, existential philosophy, like a law of nature for human living. Most people choose answers to this “meaning OF” question with spiritual traditions. This is an important consideration for anyone. And…it isn’t everything.

What you’ll find on this site is instead a focus on meaning IN life—the experience of a sense of meaning, and how that pertains to psychological well-being. Consideration of meaning IN life is compatible with any spiritual (or non) tradition.
For more on that, you can check out the Model of Well-Being and the Landscape of Meaning.

What's the point of it all? What does that mean? What does it really mean? What does that look like, in all facets of life?

  • If money and fear were not hurdles, what would my life look like in 5 years? 10 years?
    → Let’s say you suddenly have 2 million dollars. You experience fear, but it isn’t debilitating or paralyzing. What would you work towards?
  • What is the thing in the world that brings you the most joy? What are the next 4 things?
  • Imagine what you see as your full potential (not miracle/impossible) — what would you look like, be thinking, be doing, where, with whom?
  • When (if) I really stop and think about the big, big, BIGGEST picture of life, I often think about ____, ____, ____, . . .
    What I’d (also) like to think about is ____, ____, ____ …
    3 things I’ll do/start within 1 week are ____, ____, ____ …
  • Describe your perfect day, full of meaning and joy.
    → What does a perfect month look like to you?
    → What about a perfect year?
  • What are the very most precious things to you?
    → Shoot for 7.
    → Why, for each, are they so precious to you?
  • Think of someone’s life you really admire… not because of pure fame, or fortune, although those may be present. People who have lived or are living a full, joyous life that “fires on all cylinders.“ Someone who sucked the juice out of life, and drank fully of the nectar of life.

Since death alone is certain, and the time of death uncertain, what should I do?

→ Imagine yourself on your deathbed, what do you hope to have accomplished in your life?
→ What kind of regrets do you never want to have?
→ If you had limited time left to live, what would you do with the remaining time? Say you’ve got one year, one month, or one day?
→ How are the ‘deathbed you’ and the ‘current you’ different from one another?
  • How much juice might you be able to squeeze out of the fruit of life? What might bring the corners of your mouth up to their fullest potential of joy/contentment/satisfaction?
  • Milestones: a birth, a wedding, a death, a severe injury, a deep illness, cancer, retirement, graduation . . . between these, what is a life well lived?
    Checkout: Me In Time, Awe
  • What are 5 lives, fairly diverse, that you actually know, that you admire, and are within range (even with a stretch)?
    And, similarly, 5 lives you do not admire/enjoy? Not tragic — okay lives, but you also don’t want to live it.

What is a human life for?

→ Is this basically what life is like? My life? What is life?
→ What role is played by the “conveyor belts” of life, like: going to school, growing up in “normal” cultures, imprints of family, cultural norms/expectations, get a job, make money, be happy in your time off…
→ What have I been told about belonging and its requirements? About my calling? About what fulfillment looks like?
  • How have these shaped me, and how I have consciously chosen to be shaped? Family structure, parental background, relationship status, socio-economic circumstance, religion, nationality, education, age, …
  • What’s beyond the familiar and comfortable?

More Questions

to generate wonder, excitement, and insight

  • What do you want to learn?
  • What are you almost always excited to do?
  • Who do you want to be around?
  • What is something you’ve done that you are very proud of?
  • 5 things you are most proud of (past), and 5 for the future?
  • If you were guaranteed to realistically succeed, what would you do?
  • What is something you always enjoyed as a child that you haven’t done in a long time?
  • What is something you would never regret trying to do? Even if it ended in disaster?
  • You’re giving a commencement speech 20 years from now. What are you telling the graduates about and what did you accomplish for them to want to hear that from you?
  • What do you love so much you would pay to do it as an occupation?
  • What does your 100-year-old self tell you to do with your life now, and in the next 10 years?
  • Who are your heroes? — “out of reach” in the world, yet real people? Who are the heroes in your life you can touch / have access to? What inspiring qualities do EACH of these people have? (don’t repeat qualities other than adding a tick mark next to it for recurrence)
  • What would you do if no one would judge you?
  • What is the most important problem you could work on right now?
  • What are things you do NOT want for yourself / your life? After listing them, write down their opposites. (Ie. “I don’t want to be poor.” → “I want financial freedom.”)
  • What would the highest version of myself do?
  • Is this it? Is this what life is about? Is this all there is? What am I leaving on the table that I might want to pick up? How can I lead my best life now?
  • If you had 5 days a week (3 weekdays and 2 weekend days) that magically had 32 waking hours in them instead of 16, what would you do with the extra, bonus time?

“The question would be: ‘What mastery can you offer?’ So have a friend of yours ask that question of you five times, and you’ll be sort of surprised at, by the fifth time you get asked that question, and you’ve had to come up with four other answers before that, what kind of revelation you may have in this archaeological dig.” – Chip Conley

What’s On Your Bucket List?

Here are some resources to help your brainstorming. 🙂

Buckil – A helpful bucket list maker.
BucketList.org – Get inspired, share, and collect your bucket list items, with Facebook integration.
BucketList.net – “Bucket List Ideas, Advice And Support To Live Life To The Fullest”
Wake Up List – “Every 90 days, we’ll simply send you your list. Think of it as your quarterly life checkup. It’s totally free and takes under a minute to start.”
Day Zero Project – Self-proclaimed “largest community of goal setters in the World!”

Note: There are pros and cons to bucket lists. They have the potential to make us unhappy, as we are looking at what we don’t have and want.
Desire that is loosely held, unattached, is worthy and doesn’t degrade happiness. 🙂

Another Exercise

You walk into a funeral, look around and realize it’s YOUR funeral. (Yikes!)
You take a seat and look around at all the people there to celebrate you and your life. (Imagine that for a moment if you feel so inspired.)
Then you listen to some eulogies.

The Exercise: Who says what? What does your spouse or significant other say? Your kids? Your friends? Your colleagues? Random people you may have helped at some point in your life?
Think about that. Write it down.

What qualities do they mention? What VIRTUES do you want to be remembered for? Your kindness? Your presence? Your generosity? Your courage? Your ability to inspire others? Your creativity? Your commitment? What is it for you?
Check Out: How to Write Your Own Obituary, and The Remembering Site

Feeling high on the questions of life?

Revisiting these questions from time to time over the days, months, and years will improve your level of consideration of meaning in life.

If you liked this, here are a couple fitting places to go from here:

“Be patient toward all that is unresolved in your heart… Try to love the questions themselves… Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given because you would not be able to live them — and the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answers.”
—Rainer Maria Rilke