What Is The Purpose Of Life?
By Leo Gura - January 19, 2014 | 12 Comments
Learn what the purpose of life is in 15 minutes. Plus, discover how you can actually use this knowledge to super-charge your life right now!
Hey, this is Leo from Actualized.org and in this quick self-help segment, in about ten minutes, I’m gonna talk about what is the purpose of life. It’s actually a super deep and fascinating metaphysical topic that I love to think about, being a philosophy major. This is something that I’ve really delved into years ago, in my college days. But now, let me share with you some of the practical advice I have about what the purpose of life is. And how that relates, and actually applies and influences your day-to-day life, how I think it should.
There Is No Purpose
This is kind of a controversial topic, and different people have different opinions, but I’m gonna tell you my side of the story. The purpose of life is that there is no purpose. This is actually a very deep concept. I am not saying this flippantly. This is something that I’ve pondered for a long time and this is something that I’ve really studied. The fact is that life, in reality, is neutral. We have to understand that there’s the external world, so to speak, and there’s an internal world, what’s happening in our mind.
Meaning only exists inside the mind – it does not exist in the external world. The same goes for other human-type conditions. For example: happiness, sadness, depression, confidence, anxiety, fear, stress, any kind of emotion and any kind of meaning that’s generally attached to anything in life exists only in the mind. That’s the only place it exists. Purpose is meaning, and that does not exist anywhere outside, so there is no objective one purpose to life. It kind of is whatever you make it. This really reminds me of the Henry Ford quote, which goes:
“If you think you’re right, you’re right, and if you think you’re wrong – you’re also right.”
It’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Whatever you feel your purpose is in life is what it is. You make your purpose. That means that if you’re a nihilist and you think there is no purpose and life is pointless then that’s what it is for you. And you will be right in that. Yet if you think that your purpose is to go out there and do something, raise a family, go out there and build a business, make some sort of contribution to society, just go travel the world, explore life, understand life, read a bunch of books, whatever – that will be your purpose. And that’s pretty much the end of it.
Reality Is Neutral
Here’s the thing: like the Buddhists say – reality is neutral to your wishes, to your desires. It’s totally neutral. We live in a world that’s consistent with that. That means people can do and think whatever they want, and believe whatever they want, and there’s nothing really restricting them from that. I can believe whatever I want, and if I believe it strongly enough, that’s gonna be my reality.
Sure, I can’t believe I’m gonna fly and then fly all of a sudden – that’s not going to happen. I’m not gonna contradict the laws of physics. But in general, purpose doesn’t work that way. Purpose kind of stays inside your mind. It doesn’t usually hit up against something physical, like the way flying would, or jumping out of a building and not dying. That you can’t work your way out of with your mind. But as far as purpose goes, it’s just whatever you feel it is.
Reaching Full Potential
Even though I say there is no purpose, that doesn’t mean I live my life with no purpose. In fact, I think I’m more purpose-driven, even though I believe there’s no fundamental purpose, that most other people out there. Because for me, I feel like life is short. Even though I have a purpose I understand it’s one of an infinite number of purposes, and I’m not saying it’s the only purpose, that it’s the one purpose everybody else should have. I’m just saying that it’s my purpose.
For me, my purpose is that I want to be the best that I can be. I wanna live up to my full potential in life. I wanna be excellent. I wanna live up to high-consciousness values. I wanna honour beauty and truth. I wanna understand and experience life. To me, living a full life is the point of life.
The Conscious Mind
Another big purpose for me is to use my conscious mind to understand life. I feel like we are one of the few organisms, maybe in the whole universe, but at least on Earth as far as we know, that has a conscious mind. Which means that we can actually understand the universe. It’s kind of a cool idea that we, being part of the universe – it’s like the universe understanding itself.
I feel there’s something kinda sacred in that. Not objectively sacred, but subjectively sacred. To me, there’s meaning in that, in just understanding the universe. It’s cool that we as humans get the privilege of understanding how gravity works, the law of gravity. We figured that out, we understand mathematics to a very exact degree, we understand certain things in philosophy, we understand human psychology.
We understand how all these things work, we have all this data, all this knowledge that we’ve built up, and that’s amazing. That we get to be part of this reality – we don’t even have a good definition of what this reality is, we don’t even understand it. But we understand parts of it. And to me, that process of understanding it, that’s like an end in itself.
And then, of course, also experiencing life. I think that every organism alive has this privilege of having consciousness. There is the kind of analytical consciousness that only humans have, but then there is just the experiential consciousness which all animals and organisms have to a degree. Even a bacteria has a certain consciousness that we can asociate with it. It can feel things, it can register different sensations.
It’s the same with insects, birds, mammals and monkeys and us. We can experience the richness of life. We can see it, smell it, taste it, we can travel the world, experience all this stuff. And to me, to die and to not take in as much as we could have, to not understand as much of the world as we could have – that’s a big waste.
I’m not saying that’s factualy, objecticvely true. I think that, in fact, if I wanted to, I could totally justify sitting around on my ass and doing nothing my whole life. That would be, in some sense, one path that I chose. Carlos Castaneda in The Wheel of Time has a brilliant quote about this.
The Path Of The Warrior
He talks about the warrior, he talks about how in the ancient Aztec and Mexican traditions the shamans and the medicine men would train warriors. These warriors were different than the layman of the tribe, and they would go out and pick a purpose and dedicate their life to it. They would be so committed to that purpose that they would plead for it and they would die for it.
That gave them direction in life, that gave them satisfaction in life. He talks about how the warrior chooses a path with heart,. He’s totally committed to it, as though that path were the one path, as though it were the most important path. At the same time ,he realises that path is no more meaningful and no less meaningful than any other, that any path you choose is a valid path, as long as it’s the path that has heart for you.
That’s the ultimate question. Don’t go around and look for the purpose of life in a book. That’s silly. Don’t get it from a video. I’m not telling you what the purpose of life is. I’m telling you that, ultimately, you’ve gotta figure that out for yourself. And whatever you settle on, it’s what it’s gonna be.
That’s kind of the bottom line of it. Take this to heart. Really understand what that means. If it’s up to you, it really is up to you. And you can choose to squander this opportunity or you can choose to make the most of it. I think you should understand that as human beings we have certain biological needs and tendencies. One of those is the need to self-actualize, which means to live up to your full potential.
As Abraham Maslow talks about brilliantly – the guy who invented the hierarchy of needs, that you might’ve learned in psychology class – well, he’s got the lower level needs down at the bottom, like food, survival and shelter. Then he’s got the highest level need, which is self-actualization. He talks about self-actualization, and what he says about it, very interestingly, is that self-actualization is a need. It’s a need to live up to your full potential. Humans have this need.
It’s just like a vitamin – you can be deficient in a vitamin, and your body is gonna be dysfunctional. It’s the same thing with self-actualization. When you’re not living up to your highest potential, when you’re not living up to that vision of who you know you can be, and you’re not tapping into your greatest strengths, then you start to feel dissatisfied.
Because we have the psychology that we do, as arbitrary as it is, when we’re not goal driven, we’re not pursuing our edge, and we’re not living a big life, then we start to feel dissatisfied. That starts to rot our soul from the inside. It starts to gnaw at you, it starts to rot you. It leads to a mediocre, regretful, painful kind of life.
Committing To A Path
Do you really want that? Maybe you do. Maybe that’s the path for you. To be lazy or not to do anything, to think that you can just sit around. Maybe to think that living an average existence, doing a nine-to-five job is perfectly cool. Maybe that is the case.
I can promise you this – even if you do commit to that path, understand that that’s gonna be a frustrating row to hoe. And I would not want to hoe that row. I’ve done it, it’s soul-destroying. Which you don’t want, because you’re a human being. You have this need for self-actualization. You want to live up to your full potential.
That is, to me, the ultimate meaning and purpose to life – self-actualization. That is why I’ve named my website Actualized.org. Because I want to help people get actualized. I think not enough people understand the deficiency they have with self-actualization. I think that so many of us are deficient in that one area of our lives that we are dissatisfied, and we don’t even know why.
I’m gonna wrap it up there. Go ahead, post your comments. I’d love to hear from you – what you think about this, what you think the purpose of life is. I’m curious. I’ll read and comment. And of course, please like and share.
If you resonate with this idea of self-actualization then you will be pleased to know that you can go to Actualized.org, and we’ve got you covered on all the self-actualization material, theory, techniques, strategies that I’ve researched.
I’ve researched many, many of them, and I continue to do that, because I’m really passionate about self-actualization. That’s what I’m about. Go there, subscribe to the newsletter. A lot of free, amazing content that you can look at right now, that will get you on that path to get you self-actualized. You know you want it, I know you want it. We all want it, because human beings need it.