Knowing the meaning is a key component of happiness
What the meaning is...and isn't
What does meaning mean, actually?
Relative to what or whom?
Is it about outcomes or about...?
What is the purpose of your life?
Is life hopeless?
Is life good? Is life worthwhile?
How can I maximize happiness in life?
How can I add more value to my life and really nail down my personal purpose
How can I add more "quality" of experience to my life?
Or maybe it's simpler
KNOWING THE MEANING, KEY COMPONENT OF HAPPINESS
Knowing the meaning of life is a key component of having a strong life philosophy that supports one's happiness.
However, I would suggest that there is no meaning "assigned" to life directly and no reason it occurred, other than extreme, extreme luck (see Evolution). There is no entity that has assigned a purpose to life ahead of time - life just
happened (via evolution).
But you can create meaning in life for your life and you can create a purpose that you want to fulfill in your life. Your choice.
See, below, what the ultimate creator of meaning (and feeling good) is.
WHAT THE MEANING IS...AND ISN'T
Life is strictly an experience. And increasing the quality of that experience is what increases the meaning and value of life as an experience.
Life is like going to the movies, you walk in, enjoy the movie, and then it ends, with you having enjoyed the movie, even the frightening parts.
However, how you look at it, through the filter of your life philosophy, makes a huge difference.
Part of that difference is knowing, for sure, that you are the one directing it, which means you can change it at any time, and make it better and more enjoyable (knowing that is part of the life philosophy that you'll develop from this site).
And, while you're in the movie, just enjoy it; don't spend your time thinking about what you have to do after the movie - you received the privilege of going to this incredible movie, so make the most of it - after all, what else do you have to do?
Note that, while psychology management helps, a great life is actually created through a great life philosophy - and I'd suggest that it is very, very, very well worth it to spend the time to establish a great one! A great life philosophy is the collection of "what works" in life - it is a practical set of "beliefs", rules, principles, guidelines, "systems", and such, that make life work the best. Build the pieces of your philosophy meticulously well for they will govern your very life - your life philosophy is the very foundation of your life!
As long as you're here on earth, you might as well experience happiness.
WHAT DOES MEANING MEAN, ACTUALLY?
Meaning equals significance, importance, valuing. Accordingly, when we talk about the "meaning" of life, we're talking about the significance or importance of life. We also are talking about the sum value of all that we value in life, so greater meaning "in life" is derived from doing and being what we value in life, all added together in a big total value (or meaning).
And what is of the most value and therefore what do we give the most meaning to? All value and meaning is proportional to the benefit we "feel" in terms of surviving and being happy. If something leads to that, it has value and meaning.
Whenever we get a "jolt" of feeling good, it comes from the affirmation that we are safe and surviving well and/or the affirmation that our future will be better and/or go well. Of course, we "feel good" when we eat, as that is an affirmation to the mind that we are ok for now - it is a reward for our doing that which appears to solve a problem and/or forward life. There are many examples that will bring this out, so, in order not to clutter this piece too much, I put them in the sidebar, after copying this paragraph.
We seem to look for some kind of meaning outside the obvious meaning. And we make up things like "it is to perfect ourselves so that we can be with God". In that case, we are holding life as an "in order to" (in order to get a specific result).
But I'd suggest that life is not an "in order to". Instead, it is the whole enchilada, an incredible blessing. Life is it, the end all and be all.
And if you want to live and you want to love, feel, experience...then you are saying all those together are significant, that they are what make life meaningful - and great.
I wanta be here...I wanta live...that's pretty darned significant to me...it "means" everything to me!
Now, I "get" it. It is significant (i.e. meaningful) simply because that's what it is to me - I am the assignor of significance and meaning in my life - and ain't that a god-like blessing!
Again, I create meaning and value (virtually the same thing) by doing and/or being that which I value. The road to having alot of value in life is delineated in Values.
RELATIVE TO WHAT, OR WHOM?
As I look back, years after writing this, I see that I did not make a vital point really clear and I just assumed that the reader would "get it".
Some people have, due largely to "enculturation" forgotten that value and meaning are only from the viewpoint of and toward the welfare of oneself - not the world, not the ones you love, not for other "entities", not for "being good" - it is all for oneself. It is not rational to do anything other than what we have evolved to do: act in our own self interest. Yes, of course, cooperation is important to the extent that it is in our own self interest in (net) total, and, accordingly, service to others, kindness, and the other components of interacting with other people have value - but, again, only to the extent that it serves our own self interest (surviving and being happy).
It is a mistake to think that the "benefit of others", no matter how great in total impact, is more important than our own benefit - for benefiting others is only important if it makes us feel better, happier, or more well off. Benefiting others is only a very small fraction of what is of benefit to ourselves. And when it becomes the point of life, it is a false valuing and false strategy for life. Sure, it is a nice sounding idea to be of "service" and "prove yourself worthy or exalted or whatever", but it can never be more important than self interest - it is only part of considering what is of benefit, based on what makes me feel good enough that I will give up something else that feels good but not as much - it is never, rationally, selfless!
IS IT ABOUT OUTCOMES OR ABOUT...?
However, on the way through life, we have to learn how to be more happy and effective - and that takes, you guessed it, learning experiences, often known as mistakes or undesired outcomes. Accepting mistakes and learning from them dramatically increase the quality of life, for we will no longer experience the pain we used to give ourselves for making mistakes and we will reduce our number of undesired outcomes.
But the meaning of life does not come from a greater quantity of desired outcomes or fewer undesired outcomes, it comes from a belief structure that supports having joy about life and virtually no pain about it.
Modifying your belief structure will totally alter your life's quality! Handle at least the 4 core beliefs that most of us have left over from childhood - "not good enough", "must have approval", "not powerful enough", and "fear of the future turning out badly" - all false beliefs that are harmful and limiting.
WHY WAS I GIVEN LIFE?
Oh, yeah, let's answer the question of why you're alive. The answer is strictly by extremely, extremely good fortune - evolution had to happen and you had to be the lucky sperm. That's it. No divine design, though it is absolutely divine and marvelous that you are alive and have this opportunity to experience life!
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF YOUR LIFE?
The purpose of your life is different than the "purpose of life" in general. There is no purpose of life in general, as that would imply intent by something, but the universe and evolution are strictly objective and mechanical, though fortunately so.
A simple process to determine what your purpose in life actually is is in
And what makes life meaningful and valuable? This is what does and this leads to determining how you can add more personal meaning to your life: Personal Meaning.
IS LIFE HOPELESS?
In certain regards, yes. You can escape what Buddhism calls "the givens": you will feel pain and you will die. That's it. It doesn't matter that that is what happens! It is given, it is so - and as such it is useless to protest it or feel bad about it. It is certainly stupid to feel hopeless about it - for what purpose?
Other than that, there is a whole lotta space to put in a lotta good stuff, to create a great experience, enjoying it as you go. What fun! We can play and know that there are no serious consequences (if we don't make up pain in our head) and then eventually the play period ends. What a life! What an opportunity!
We get a "package deal": great stuff but with some limitations since we didn't evolve into gods - but we became the highest functioning animals, by far, in the world. I'd say it is a great deal! A great opportunity!
IS LIFE GOOD? IS LIFE WORTHWHILE?
To add more details to why life is so valuable read the section called
Why Life Is Very Good (Actually Great!). Adding a whole new "viewing point" that adds rationality to and eliminates victimness (which takes away from the value of life) in life increases its value. Why life is a miracle. This also leads you to other pieces that add value, which you may want to read.
HOW CAN I MAXIMIZE HAPPINESS IN LIFE?
HOW CAN I ADD MORE VALUE TO MY LIFE AND REALLY NAIL DOWN MY PERSONAL PURPOSE AND PASSION?
To determine and then to create more value in your life, read
HOW CAN I ADD MORE "QUALITY" OF EXPERIENCE TO MY LIFE?
You'll create a more meaningful life if you identify your Ideal Life.
OR MAYBE IT'S SIMPLER:
To enjoy the sun, sit out and read the paper, next to a pool...