We have been having a great time with our friends over at the REBT-CBT Forum discussing the timeless question, What is the Purpose of Life? Actually, REBT has quite a bit to say about this, but I fear that what it has to say is not very satisfying to those who raise the question! Click the blue link below to read my take and to jon the discussion.
While I think this is a valid existential, philosophical and theological question, I don’t pretend to know the answer. And while the question may sometimes be valid, I think that often it is simply “depression-speak.” An individual feels disconnected, without direction, meaning or purpose. Then the unhealthily rumination over the question which is not really a question, but rather a resonating re-statement of a the distorted conclusion the person has already arrived at. Namely that Life has no “purpose!” It is a odd game, the cognitive equivalent of “Russian Roulette,” which like an echo chamber, simply amplifies and reinforces the depression. I am not saying that this (and this type) of question is always a symptom of depression . . . but often it is, especially if it is ruminating, intrusive and/or obsessive.
This question can only be valid if one starts from the premise that the idea or theory of some sort of purpose that exists outside of our awareness and consciousness is a valid one. There is no compelling evidence that I am aware of that it is. Of course, people have strong opinions about it which they are entitled to. So called “Creationists” point to a perceived order and complexity to the universe and to life and conclude that, therefore, it must be the product of an “intelligent design,” and therefore an intelligent designer. That is an interesting theory, but it is not evidence of anything one way or the other, except that some people (strongly) believe that perceived order and complexity must axiomatically be purposeful. Once again, people are entitled to their beliefs and opinions. However, if you really want to escape from this gloomy, exhausting trap of the poor little hamster endlessly running around his wheel and getting nowhere, continue reading.
To put it another way, people who are happy, fulfilled, fruitfully involved in some interesting personal pursuits, supported by loving and nourishing relationships, rarely spend much time worrying about the “Purpose of Life.” Those few who do are called philosophers, and I have no beef that or with them, except to observe that the 20th Century sure produced a bunch of gloomy, grumpy philosophers!
I agree with what others have expressed here better than I. The REBT solution to this conundrum is to infuse your life with meaning and purpose by engaging in meaningful activities, ones which bring you a sense of purpose. It is as simple as that, really. It is no wonder that one of the ancient, traditional ways of counteracting depression, and still one of the most effective, is to go out and do some service or volunteer work, something that gets you “outside” of your self.
Mr. Natural, R. Crumb
I you meet the Buddha on the road … give him a dirty look and a good chiding!
What do you think?
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Originally posted 2013-10-20 21:57:41.