Monday, March 14, 2016

THE COST OF NOT FINDING A PURPOSE IN LIFE





A worldview or philosophy of life is part of being human. On the most elementary level, we are bombarded by millions of sensory data every moment, and we need some way to organize these impulses and to make coherent sense out of them if we are to see and hear.

However, this tendency doesn’t stop there. We are required, as humans, to organize our perceptions and thoughts to produce a philosophy or worldview – a foundation on which to base our decisions. Regarding this inevitability, philosopher Os Guinness wrote:

  • A key part of human living is that we all have a philosophy of life. Sometimes called a vision of life, a worldview, or a world-and-life view, this philosophy of life is the framework or road map within which we interpret all of our experience of life – how we see reality, how we view our own identity, how we decide issues of morality, and so on. (The Journey, 27) 

Our philosophy of life is either examined or unexamined, but it is nevertheless there and inseparable from whom we are, according to the late philosopher, Nikolai Berdyaev:

  • No man can live without any basis of philosophy, however primitive, na├»ve, childish, or unconscious.


However, life is not just a matter of having a philosophy. It must be an accurate philosophy or roadmap in order to take us where we want to go, as Plato observed:

  •  One must take the best and surest of human theories, and let this be the raft on which he sails through life – not without risk, as I admit, if he cannot find some word of God which will surely and safely carry him.

Our road map must also be able to give us a meaning or a purpose for our lives. The late writer, Norman Mailer, confessed that he despaired when it seemed that his life lacked a purpose:

  •  I think that we are healthier if we think there is some importance to what we are doing. I can only speak from personal experience, but when it seems like my life is meaningless, I feel closest to despair. I like life to have meaning. That is not to say you have to jump into meaning and find it where there is none, or come up with answers too quickly.

Mailer observed something very critical – “I like LIFE TO HAVE meaning.” He didn’t say, “I like to CREATE MY OWN meaning for life.” He also mentioned finding meaning rather than creating meaning. Why is this distinction important? If life doesn’t have an intrinsic meaning, then anything we might create is arbitrary and unsatisfying, like creating a virtual family for ourselves in our own minds.

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