Happiness, the Purpose of Life?

I don’t know whether the universe, with its countless galaxies, stars and planets, has a deeper meaning or not, but at the very least, it is clear that we humans who live on this earth face the task of making a happy life for ourselves.
—The Dalai Lama

I like that quote because it recognizes that the universe is much larger and more complicated than our little minds can completely comprehend. A huge dose of humility is the only sane way of dealing with it. But that doesn’t mean we have to be unhappy.

In fact, the Dalai Lama believes that the purpose of human life is to be happy, and that we can achieve that by being loving and compassionate to one another. Certainly love and compassion are important parts of my own happiness, but for me they’re not quite enough. I also need a certain amount of challenge in my life, and I need to be using my talents and contributing in ways that engage my deepest passions.

So I’ll add a bit of Joseph Campbell to my prescription for happiness:

People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality….
–Joseph Campbell in “The Power of Myth”

And just how do we go about doing this? How do we uncover our “innermost being and reality”? One of the surest ways of getting in touch with our deepest selves is by free-association journal writing. If you’d like to try it for yourself, try Steve Pavlina’s method of discovering your life purpose in about 20 minutes. It could be life-changing. You might just find yourself happier and more passionate about life than you could have imagined.

Picture courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech

For another view of the search for happiness, see Adam Kayce’s post on the subject.

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18 Responses to Happiness, the Purpose of Life?

  1. Chancy says:

    I saw your recent comment on “TimeGoesBy” blog and thought I would drop by and say hello.

    I have been intrigued while reading about the tiny nation of Bhutan and the concept of “Gross National Happiness.”

    “Gross National Happiness (GNH) is an attempt to define quality of life in more holistic and psychological terms than Gross National Product.

    The term was coined by Bhutan’s King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in 1972. It signaled his commitment to building an economy that would serve Bhutan’s unique culture based on Buddhist spiritual values. Like many worthy moral goals it is somewhat easier to state than to define, nonetheless, it serves as a unifying vision for the Five Year planning process and all the derived planning documents that guide the economic and development plans to the country.”



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  7. bikehikebabe says:

    feel tired from all exercise i did yesterday but will get over it as i get stronger…blah.
    I know free-association is good not only because Jean says so, but my psychiatrist believed in it. My daughter sent me to one. I talked for 3 months & then said I was leaving. (Had no feed-back from him, like psychologist would have given, but the free-ass. helped me.) He was frantic to keep me. Didn’t know if he didn’t want me out on my own or he wanted the money. Asked him to tell me SOMETHING. He said,”Get a job.”

  8. Jean says:

    Thanks for coming by. 🙂

  9. Lance Carr says:

    Well rather than fill a book on my thoughts on the subject I just think first that there is no big secret “meaning” of life as such. It just is. I do think there is an overall purpose and game of life which is the setting and achieving of goals. The more difficult the goal and the greater the barriers you overcome in achieving the goal increase the reward for having achieved the goal. You get your “pay” in happiness. The greater goals (best paying!) are those that satisfy or are aligned with the basic purpose of the individual – To HELP.

    Lance Carrs last blog post..Stone the Crows! It’s Australia… The Movie

  10. Jean says:

    Thanks for coming by!

  11. Great article, bookmarked!

  12. I agree that the purpose of life is to be happy, but many people are confused about this. It seems obvious to me.

  13. Very nice post you got some really good points there. Thanks for sharing.


  14. What is the meaning of life?

    I dont think that anyone can give you correct answer for these questions. You all have probably asked yourself these questions many times throughout your lifetime. These are one of the hardest questions that everyone tries to find answer. But still, most people will never find the answer.

  15. Jean says:

    One Piece,
    As I see it, we each have to figure our own personal meaning…if we’re interested and able to do it. It’s a blessing if we can.

  16. Jean says:

    Enlightenment and One Piece,
    Thank you both for coming by. 🙂

  17. tammy says:

    note to bhb…
    he wanted the money.

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