What is the Purpose of Life?


We have all asked “What is the purpose of Life?” and nobody has yet come up with the definitive answer.

I am asking the question again this day in the hope that we can find answers to lift ourselves up from the tedium of existence, making life less of a struggle and more of a welcome challenge.

I am sure that animals do not wonder about the purpose of life. They simply accept life as it is. I often feel we should do exactly that – just stop asking, and start living.

Perhaps the better question is, “What is the purpose of MY life?” because we’re all walking down a different path.

It was writer and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson who boldly stated that the purpose of life is NOT to be happy. Emerson believed we are here to make a difference in the world, and that may, or it may not, make us happy.

I like Emerson’s answer because it takes away the selfishness that pervades society today and puts the focus on a broader good.

Robert Kennedy had a similar view, believing that the purpose of life is to make things better in this world. He spent his life trying to do just that, until it was cut short by an assassin’s bullet.

The tragic death of Robert Kennedy takes me to the more pessimistic view of life from 1800s writer Johann Wolfgang van Goethe. He said the human race is a monotonous affair in which most people work their lives away. What little freedom remains, said van Goethe, is filled with fear.

We all know people who take this grim view. But I don’t accept it. It takes away hope. It makes me feel as though everything I do is for naught.

The Roman philosopher Seneca was also pessimistic, but I have to admit he was right when he said “It is not that we have so little time, but that we lose so much. We are not ill provided but use what we have wastefully.”

In other words, each of us is a walking miracle. We just don’t know it. So many of us sadly waste our lives.

A more uplifting spiritual view of our purpose came from an unlikely source: Albert Einstein. The great scientist once said that practicing religion, art and science had the power to lift human beings from mere physical existence to eternal freedom.

That sounds good, but I’m not sure Einstein was right. Much of what we humans practice seems to divide us, resulting in a less stable world.

A very simple approach came from author Robert Bryne who gave this response: “The purpose of life is a life of purpose.”

Catchy, to be sure. But what Robert Bryne had to say, and the views of all the people I have quoted – still do not provide a satisfactory answer.

Much of these “explanations” are disguised platitudes.

They do not address the real purpose we are here.

If our purpose is to make a better world, the next logical question becomes: “What is the purpose of the world?”

I have only one conclusion.

Life is a gift.

It is surely the most amazing gift of all.

How we use our gift is entirely up to us.

© 2016 Cory Robert Galbraith, All Rights Reserved.

2 thoughts on “What is the Purpose of Life?

  1. There are two paths to take in answering the question.

    One path is that our existence is the result of a series of chance happenings, that our morality/purpose/etc. is an outgrowth of our specie’s hubris since it is not replicated elsewhere on the planet, and that when we die there is nothing.

    The other path involves some higher power. If we are here to do good, or serve, or lift, there is still the question “Why?” Your “conclusion” still falls short. Philosophy and logic will only get you so far down the path, maybe a step or two.


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