Every incoming first year at my university is required to take a First Year Seminar (FYS) course where we pick from a variety of classes that are centered around different social, political, or personal issues we often see and/or experience today. If it were up to me I would have taken all of the classes offered because they seemed genuinely interesting. However, obviously I couldn’t do that so I decided to take a course called “Meaninglessness and Meaningfulness” where, for an entire semester, we discussed the meaning of life.
Before I get into any heavy topics, I would like to preface this with stating that the conclusion I come to and build upon is strictly my opinion. I know plenty people who disagree with what I believe and I would never, in any way, try and convince someone that my beliefs are superior to theirs on such a subjective topic.
Now that I’ve got that covered I’ll jump right into things.
In this course we discussed a lot of things. Most of our conversations revolved heavily around psychoanalysis (if you don’t know what that is, check out this site for a really good explanation), but we also discussed religion, language, family, and basically anything that people attach to the meaning of their lives. I say these are things people attach to the meaning of their lives because people don’t always make these things the meaning of their life. For example: family is not the meaning of your life, but it is something that adds to the meaning. Religion is not the meaning of your life, but it makes your life a little more meaningful. This was the main point of my final paper for this course – that you have a purpose in life or many purposes, and while those purposes add to the overarching meaning, they are not the meaning itself. The difference between purpose and meaning? You live for a purpose, but there is meaning behind the purpose. For example, I believe it is important to live my life for God, meaning I want to do what He calls me to do and live my life according to Him. This is part of my purpose in life, but not the meaning. The meaning behind why I choose to live my life as such and make God my purpose is because of my faith and my devotion to Christ. Fulfilling God’s plan for me is my purpose, while my faith and devotion is my meaning.
I could write a lot more and maybe I’ll expand on this in a later post, but for now I’ll wrap things up.
The meaning of life, as abstract as it may seem, is a question that people think too much about. I think the energy should be put into figuring out who you are and what you want out of life (such as your purpose/purposes). Once you know and are truly confident in every aspect of yourself (figuring out the who, what, when, where, and why about yourself) then you can find purpose. Once you’ve found purpose, you have, in my opinion, stumbled upon the meaning of life.
Everybody has their something – the thing that gets them out of bed every morning or the thing that allows them to make it through life’s many trials on two feet and triumphant. Maybe you have yet to realize that something, maybe that something has changed time and time again, maybe you have a lot of something’s and plan on pursuing them all – whatever they are, it is that something that gives your life purpose and that purpose that gives your life meaning.
The most philosophical way I can put it is there is a meaning to life so long as you give life a meaning.
I give my life a meaning by attributing it to a purpose.
How do you give your life a meaning?