The Purpose and Meaning of Life

by Alison Rodgers

According to the Carmel, IN based search engine Cha-Cha, the most sought after search phrase last year was “the meaning of life.” My own search of the phrase on Google told me two things: Wikipedia rules the search waves and Monty Python’s movie on the same topic is still hilarious. They were the top two search results. The meaning of life for me, however, I will not find on a Google search, although my favorite software giant can help. It’s all about choices.

The meaning of life is relative to the person that is living it. The Talmud teaches that your soul enters your body aware of who and what you are as a unique soul – that the angels taught to you all that you needed to know for the life that you were destined to live. Your purpose or destiny was known to your soul, but is forgotten by the human mind – and the experience of life, the journey of it is the search for meaning specific to why you chose to come to earth in this time and season. In many faith systems, the human existence is simply part of a higher form of soul life. The meaning of life comes in fulfilling purpose. Ancient Greeks taught that there was an “agape destino” or the journey of two souls to reunite and love on earth as they were created in by the gods in the heavens. These separated souls would search throughout their lifetime to become one again. From Valhalla to the Christian’s heaven, the history of the world is full of love stories who fulfill “the meaning of life.”

Purpose is an iffy subject. I often work and counsel with people who are terminally ill, or who have life changing illness. What you find about purpose is not that they are grand schemes, but dreams that compel the person to live life fully and authentically. The real key: a life lived in busy kinetic energy without intensity and passionate love…is often one lived and ended alone. Elementally, it is important to connect on a cellular level with another human being. When people are engaged in purpose, they are themselves. Perhaps the purpose isn’t saving the world or being president. Perhaps your purpose is to fulfill a destiny that may not seem all that glamorous to some – but for you, it’s unique and specific. Finding and following your purpose will lead you to the person you were destined to become.

Do you feel as though you’re fulfilling your life meaning? Here are some reasonable suggestions to help you create a solid launching point:

  • Belong to a tribe. Knowing that you belong to a community of a group of people with whom you can absolutely be yourself is important. This isn’t going to happen by magic; relationships are cultivated through time and have different levels of intensity. You might be surprised as life unfolds that your tribe is not always family…but a unique collection of people that are part of your overall purpose in life.
  • Make meaning of life. If you’re unsure of where you’re going, it rarely matters what road you take to get there. Life lived with authentic purpose is often not simple; stories of life lived in service of others is often fraught with personal peril and even some pain. Look at what your life teaches others, not just what you say. Are you committed fully to the life that you lead? Are you passionate about the love that you give away? Do you give more than you take? Here is a hard one – is your holding on to a person or a thing, a job or a romance eliminating your ability to fulfill your destiny – or prohibiting that person from doing the same?
  • Be willing to let go. When the time comes to let go of something from your life, you will know it. You may not like it and I promise you it will be at best uncomfortable. You make wreak havoc and destruction all around you by changing lanes mid-life. A preacher I greatly respect did this when he left his well-respected pulpit and left for the ghetto streets of China to serve his destiny authentically. People responded with varying degrees of anger, resentment, support and emotion. In the end, it’s his choice that honored his destiny. Is he alone in that Christian sect? No…the Apostle Peter left his wife and children behind to follow the call in the New Testament church. Sometimes destiny is little steps that make a huge difference. It is imperative that you think through your willingness to let go, which is often initiated by personal growth and change.

Social filters we construct in the US are often at odds with finding and fulfilling your destiny. We have an entire set of social “rules” that we construct as children, belief systems that become fragmented and outdated, relationships that stagnate and die although we remain active in them. Finding the meaning in your life might require that you ask yourself why you believe what you believe. Fulfilling your purpose is often the ache in your chest that never goes away; the vague feeling of distraction that you’ve taken the wrong turn. It’s the voice in your head encouraging you to take the next step in fulfilling your destiny, and the prompting to use your courage and honor. Purpose and meaning can sometimes be at odds: we make choices early in life that are not suited to the duration of our journey. We find ourselves damaged by social and relationship issues that allow feelings of insignificance to grow until our self-esteem becomes damaged. From that springboard we fail to realize dreams, take responsibility or dare to swim out into the deep. A life without fulfillment of purpose will ultimately feel empty or unimportant.

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