Author Topic: A meaningful life in a meaningless universe  (Read 740 times)


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A meaningful life in a meaningless universe
« on: June 02, 2019, 10:52:29 PM »
Of course, what constitutes a meaningful life differs from person to person, but there might be threads in common interweaved in all.

Back when I was a teenager, and especially in my late teens, life was full of impenetrable darkness and I would occasionally peek into the abyss of which I was constantly treading the border. I had suffered a loss and couldn't stop thinking that it was always possible to suffer an even greater one. Added to that, I was always an atheist although I "hadn't come out of the religious closet" at that time, and existential doubt and anxiety were always wedged in my mind somewhere, always waiting to be triggered by some event. There weren't deities that would aid me of give me meaning, no matter how much I wanted to believe there were. If you asked me then, I would have said that life was meaningless.

Now, my perspective has changed somewhat. I now believe though the universe is cold and meaningless, life is not. We don't have a God-given, objective purpose in life, but we make our own. And rarely do we go through life without impacting others. We create all sorts of value, and that gives our lives meaning. Sometimes the things we do can even give other people's lives meaning.

Sometimes all we need to do is pay attention to the fact that we can be agents of positive impact in an uncaring universe. Just really think about that for a while. 

Ever since I started in the lab I'm in and saw results getting published that I had a hand in obtaining, it elates and motivates me. Though small, I helped to create value that might benefit others. Every time I help someone who's going through some difficulty, it feels like I mattered in making their lives better. 

What about you?   
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Sandra Craft

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Re: A meaningful life in a meaningless universe
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2019, 11:49:04 PM »
Cats.  I tried to think of something more "meaningful" than that, but it really does come down to cats.  Helping cats, both specifically and in general.  I don't mind helping other animals too, even people, but I share a lot of personality flaws with cats and it really creates a bond.


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Re: A meaningful life in a meaningless universe
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2019, 12:00:10 AM »
Meaning is a very fleeting feeling for me. There are rare instances - like buying a family of strangers a battery to fix their car - where I feel a deep meaning in life. Those moments come and go rather quickly though. If I can help someone with something it gives me a great sense of joy but it doesn't last long.

I doubt that any of my contributions will change anyone's life, much less have any impact after I'm gone, but I do try. Sometimes I probably try too hard and wind up pushing people away, but I can't be sure of that.

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Re: A meaningful life in a meaningless universe
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2019, 01:09:55 AM »
For me... (as an agnostic theist):

If my life has meaning (to me), and it affects the life of other beings (cats included), then that meaning is passed on through others.

And if many beings live a life of meaning, does that bestow a meaning upon the universe?

And what of our radio and tv broadcasts? Do they change things in the universe? Even a little?

Our actions certainly affect the universe around us. Is it possible that this universe, in turn, affects other universes?

I don't know. But it is an interesting thought.


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Re: A meaningful life in a meaningless universe
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2019, 05:37:41 AM »
I find comfort in the Existentialist world view. The absurdity of life has been obvious to me since my early teens, when I realized that the universe has no grand plan for me and that I would have to write my own script.
“Who is to say that pleasure is useless?”
― Charles Eames

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Re: A meaningful life in a meaningless universe
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2019, 06:04:36 PM »
Irrespective of whether there is a larger purpose of the universe, my own daily meaning is drawn from my work, my family, and from the goals and plans I set/make.  Since I draw satisfaction from accomplishing goals or fulfilling plans, and since I perceive that I gain other temporal benefits from same, I'm motivated to continue in this vein. The whole process supplies ample meaning to keep me going day to day.