When people talk of the meaning of life they often mean a sense of purpose. Why am I here? What do I live for?
There is no single answer; everyone must find their own meaning. Some do in friends, family or religion. Others in a cause or work. Others struggle. A quarter of American report not having a strong purpose in life. One in five say they have no sense of what gives their life purpose. For many the daily grind of office life under capitalism destroys much of their lives meaning. How can life have meaning when we exchange our most productive years for a 9-5 slog day in day out for most of the year? In part this is down to the nature of work under capitalism. It is specialised, giving rise to titles like packaging logistics manager, senior category manager, IT resource specialist etc. Specialisation means we play a small part in large corporate machines, dealing with projects that last over several years. And although we recognise that we are contributing to goods people need or will enjoy, providing return for shareholders seems a lot to give our lives for. Even if these shareholders may be the funds which our pensions are invested in. And some of the most meaningful jobs seem to pay the least. A nurse or teacher or charity worker all these jobs serve others, something many of us long to do. But society rewards these jobs with little despite the complex skills involved. And although we complain that wages never seems enough. We don’t seem to curtail our spending. In part this is not our fault. A consumer culture surrounds us with adverts designed to create artificial needs. It creates needs for experiences. That you must do this or must do that. It creates needs for goods that one can live without. Tapping into our desire for status it encourages us through invention and fashion to keep buying things. Things we seldom wear or use. The combined affect of constant advertisement creates a culture where consumption seems normal. Where racking up credit card debt to buy things we have not earned the money for is standard. Where comfort and luxury are the norm.
Romanticism can also help destroy meaning in life. At it’s core it is hopeful about marriage. Believing that a marriage will have all the excitement of a love affair. That what we experience at the beginning of a relationship will last. And that our partners are without flaws. That once in a relationship we are never to feel lonely. All these are myths. Relationships are hard. Most fail. Few ever conform to romantic ideals. By setting expectations of perfections that are seldom, if ever, reached, romanticism helps contribute to a sense that life has no meaning.
It is hard to find meaning in life and this is the goal this site dedicates itself to. While different people find meaning in different things here at meaningoflife we have chosen to focus on three things travel, education and work.
We’ll cover these things in other e-lessons, but resources in these areas can be found at the following pages: career, travel, education.
Background notes on the meaning of life can be found here: