I was watching videos on YouTube this week when one of the “recommended for you” videos that the site suggests was titled “My Life Has No Meaning. Help!” I didn’t watch it. The mere title saddened me, and because I don’t leave comments on YouTube there was nothing I could do to help. But it made me think about how hard it is for many of us to find meaning in life.
We’re fed a constant diet of disaster, contention and chaos, after all. And even though the items on the news may not touch us personally, they act like a dark gloom cloud perpetually hanging over our heads. Add to that the normal stress of everyday life and the monotony of its routines and it’s easy to see how life can lose its flavor.
So how do you find meaning in life? I decided to browse through some quotes on the topic to see what clues I could find. The first thing I noticed is an almost universal agreement that life doesn’t have a built-in meaning of its own. Here’s how Joseph Campbell put it: “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.” In other words, meaning is something each of us gets to create or discover for ourselves.
I picked a few of the quotes about life’s meaning that I liked best to share with you, and to give you some clues on where you can look to find or to make your own meaning. I hope you’ll find them as insightful and inspiring as I do.
This one made me laugh. It’s from Edgar Allen Poe, of all people. “The best things in life make you sweaty.” It’s true! Fill your day with exertion and tasks accomplished and you’ll feel like you’ve lived.
Terry Pratchett says, “You know full well that the meaning of life is to find your gift. To find your gift is happiness.” And how do you find your gift? It’s what you truly enjoy doing, what comes easily to you, and what you’re naturally good at doing. Check out my articles on strengths to get some clues.
Since one of my own top strengths is an appreciation for beauty and excellence, I especially like these two: Johann Gottfried Herder says “To think what is true, to sense what is beautiful and to want what is good, hereby the spirit finds purpose of a life in reason.” And this delightful one from Welwyn Wilton Katz: “Life is a fairy tale. Live it with wonder and amazement.”
These final three tell of something deeper, and, I believe, hold the essence of building meaning into our lives. First, Richelle E. Goodrich, says, “I’m starting to think this world is just a place for us to learn that we need each other more than we want to admit.” And next, from Roy T. Bennett, come this advice: “Learn to light a candle in the darkest moments of someone’s life. Be the light that helps others see; it is what gives life its deepest significance.” And last, but not in least in any way, is this from C. JoyBell C.: “Always remember that the most valuable thing that you can do in this world, is to live a life of love.”
Work hard. Play hard. Use your talents. Find life’s delights. And above all, shine your light and give your love.