What is the purpose of life?


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!
Image result for guru purpose of life

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.


How to Develop a Sense of
Purpose and Meaning

Participate meaningfully in your life, have rewarding relationships, do work that is fruitful and satisfying, develop engaging pastimes and hobbies, be generous and do for others, have a sense of humor,  live a healthy balanced lifestyle and it is unlikely you will have much time to worry about the so called “meaning of life.”

On the other hand, if you are not doing these things and you were to suddenly discover the Meaning of life (with a capital “M”), what good would that do you?

From A Guide to Personal Happiness
by Dr. Albert Ellis (1982), p. 176-179

Suggestions for Enjoyable Pursuits

Aesthetic Appreciation
Attending ballets, art galleries, concerts, mime performances, museums, plays, serious motion pictures, etc.

Clothing Activities
Designing, Dressing, Making clothes, Photographing, Researching, Shopping, etc.

Child Care
Babysitting, Bathing, Big Brother and Big Sister activities, Dressing,
Nursing, Playing with children, Teaching, etc.

Books, Bottles, Cans, Coins, Comics, Match covers, Metals, Stamps,

Calisthenics, Cross bars, Gym horses, Jogging, Punching bag, Running, Shadow boxing, Skipping rope, Weight lifting, Yoga, etc.

Daydreaming, Dreaming, Imagining, Planning, Plotting, Scheming,

Financial Activities
Balancing checkbooks, Bill paying, Bookkeeping, Budgeting, Playing the stock market, Taking financial courses, etc.

Food Activities
Baking, Barbecuing, Collecting recipes, Cooking, Eating out, Preparing gourmet meals, Reading cookbooks, etc.

Anagrams, Bridge, Cards, Checkers, Chess, Crossword puzzles, Go, Jigsaw puzzles, Love and sex games, Monopoly, Scrabble, Word games, etc.

Garden Activities
Flower arranging, Gardening, Landscaping, Mowing the lawn, Plant ing, Raising plants at home, Visiting the botanical gardens, etc.

Graphic Arts
Cartooning, Collages, Drawing, Finger painting, Lettering, Lithography, Painting, Photography, Water coloring, etc.

Handicraft Activities
Basket making, Bookbinding, Crocheting, Embroidering, Jewelry
making, Knitting, Leather making, Lace making, Metal work, Model making, Refurbishing furniture, Stained glass making, etc.

Helping People
Advising, Counseling, Comforting, Cheering, Companioning, Hospital and institutional activities, Psychotherapy, Group therapy, etc.

Humorous Activities
Cartooning, Collecting jokes, Fun-making, Jesting, Joke-making,
Joke-telling, Playing practical jokes and pranks, Punning, Writing humorous songs and stories, etc.

Martial Arts
Aikido, Guns, Fencing, Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Karate, Wrestling, War games,

Mechanical Activities
Carpentry, Fixing appliances, Fixing apartments and houses, Wood working, Working on cars and boats, etc.

Outdoor Activities
Backpacking, Bicycling, Bird watching, Climbing, Butterfly catching, Canoeing, Camping, Fishing, Hiking, Horseback riding, Hunting, Ice skating, Kite-flying, Motoring, Picnicking, Racing cars, Skating, Skiing, Sleigh riding, Sunbathing, etc.

Performing Arts
Acting, Ballet, Dancing, Debating, Mime, Modern dance, Singing, etc.

Breeding, Caring for pets, Showing animals, Training animals, Assisting in an animal hospital, etc.

Political and Economic Activities
Campaigning, Discussing, Ecological causes, Consumer groups, Political groups, Proselytizing, Political writing, etc.

Browsing, Reading fiction, nonfiction, plays, poems, Reading aloud,
Play readings, Poetry readings, etc.

Relaxing Activities
Bathing, Chanting, Massage, Meditating, Muscle relaxation, Smok ing, Soaking, etc.

Religious and Mystical Activities
Chanting, Church going, Meditating, Praying, Reading, Preaching,
Studying religion, Teaching Sunday School, etc.

Scientific Activities
Anatomy, Anthropology, Biology, Chemistry, Herpetology, Astronomy,
Medicine, Physics, Psychology, Sociology, Zoology, etc.

Sex and Love Activities
Anal sex, Caring, Caressing, Heterosexual activities, Homosexual
activities, Helping, Kissing, Loving, Making sacrifices, Oral sex, Petting, Pornography, Sexual intercourse, Saying kind and loving things, etc.

Bar hopping, Clubs, Dinner for two, Dinner parties, Conversation,
Fraternal organizations, Giving parties, Group activities, Partying, Rap
sessions, Social functions, Visiting friends, etc.

Concert going, Listening to music, radio, etc., Watching circuses,
movies, pageants, parades, plays, sports, TV, etc.

Badminton, Baseball, Basketball, Dancing, Football, Golf, Gymnastics, Pingpong, Pool, Running, Skating, Swimming, Tennis, Track, Water
sports, etc.

Art, Language, History, Math, Music, Science, Social science, etc.

Therapy Activities

Group therapy, Individual therapy, Self-help groups, Therapizing
Dthers, Therapy workshops, etc.

Foreign travel, Local trips, Reading and observing travel books and
films, Sightseeing, etc.

Useful Activities and Chores
Cleaning, Cooking, Dishwashing, Home improvements, Ironing,
Mowing the lawn, Shopping, Washing the car, etc.

Venting Feelings
Hitting, Picketing, Punching pillows, Protesting, Screaming, Talking, Writing, etc.

Volunteer Activities
Volunteering for charitable groups, Boy Scout and Girl Scout groups,
child care groups, camps, hospitals, nonprofit organizations, political
groups, etc.





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?


Khon Kaen, Thailand



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Originally posted 2013-10-20 21:57:41.

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