What’s the point of being alive? Here are 12 key reasons

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Why are we even here?

What’s the point of being alive?

These are questions I’ve been asking ever since I can remember.

Now I’m going to give you the no-nonsense answer from my own perspective and experiences.

See whether you agree with me or not on these 12 reasons why life is worth living.

What’s the point of being alive? Here are 12 key reasons

1) To survive

If you were to ask what’s the point of being alive to a prehistoric caveman they:

  • Likely wouldn’t have the verbal or intellectual capacity to understand the question, but;
  • If they did they would say “Duh! Live big long time and eat much tasty meat garr!”

It sounds stupid, but on the very basic level Mr. Caveman is absolutely correct.

The purpose of life is to survive.

All organisms from the single cell to the human being seek to survive and have an instinct to resist death and reproduce.

Everything about us from our upright posture and opposable thumbs to our ability to smell and see is entirely evolved (or created) for the purpose of us to be able to physically survive.

However there are two points which then come up:

If the point of life is to survive, then what’s the point of surviving?

And;

If there is indeed a point to surviving, then why do we eventually die?

Fear not: I’ll answer those two questions below.

Let’s start with the point of survival. What is it? Well, it’s:

2) To have a mission

What’s the point of being alive and surviving?

The point is to have a mission.

On the basic level this means to have a function that is useful to yourself and others and brings fulfillment, meaning and progress to the world.

The purpose of survival is to build, protect, love and grow.

The purpose of survival is to do something with the time you have been given even if its source remains something of a mystery to you or is spoken of in ways by sages and holy men that mystify you.

You may not know or grasp fully the origins of life or your own creation, but you can grasp that having a mission and a purpose brings you joy and creates change and progress in the world around you.

From erecting the simplest shelter and gathering food to inventing new technologies that save life in the medical field or working to write articles on the internet to share advice and information with others:

Your life and work bring you purpose. Momentary and mere survival becomes extended survival, surplus, voluntary purpose and discovery of your talents and passions.

3) Finding our way in the darkness

Next up, we need to answer the second question I mentioned.

If there is indeed a point to surviving, then why do we eventually die?

But first, a note on why I’m even here with the privilege of asking this question at all.

From the earliest cultivation of settled agriculture to today’s high-rise, modern cities, there has been a concurrent growth of freedom and wealth, at least for a small few.

Of course this has not spread to everyone equally and the injustices of colonialism and economic exploitation are a stain on humanity.

But the overall growth in technology and wealth has allowed certain portions of societies to have free time to go beyond the search for basic necessities and ponder deeper questions.

There is a higher percentage of people alive today who have the luxury of finding a spiritual path and pondering the meaning of life on their own terms than ever before in history.

4) Using this time we’ve been gifted

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So, let’s get to it:

If the point of survival is to find your purpose and use it to help yourself and others, then why do we die?

This question immediately ties into finding our cosmic telos or purpose. In other words, our purpose that potentially transcends the physical.

The reason we have a purpose and also die is simple: we exist and experience life in mortal time.

As the philosopher Martin Heidegger noted, if everything was the same shade of blue it would be meaningless to say that something was “blue.”

By the same token, to be alive would mean nothing if there were not such a thing as “not being alive.”

To be alive means to exist in time: the terms and conditions of life are, well, death.

But that doesn’t mean that death is the end of all existence or consciousness, and that’s something which has been debated ever since humans could debate.

This has given people much more time to focus beyond just survival and finding an earthly purpose.

This is where the answer to the second question comes into play:

What’s the point of being alive?

5) To discover a spiritual path

The first point of being alive is to find your unique and powerful purpose that will help both you and others survive for longer periods and find joy and longevity in life.

The second point of being alive is to find a spiritual path that is true.

Now, many might disagree with me here. I commonly hear people tell me they disagree with “organized religion” or find it oppressive or controlling.

They say that while people are free to follow whichever path they want, the key to discovering a meaningful spiritual path is to do what works for you. This rests on the assumption that nothing is ultimately “true” or “untrue” and is more a matter of being happy or finding what inspires you.

I disagree.

If heroin makes me happy and inspires me should I inject it in my veins twice a day? Probably not!

Instead, I would encourage people to seek out what is true. I know that in my case I’d rather have the hard truth than a beautiful lie (check out the Black Mirror episode “Men Against Fire” for more on that).

The point is that spirituality is only powerful and worthwhile in helping us find a reason to live if it’s true.

So, you need to find a spiritual path which you believe fully is true and reflects something real and unchangeable.

6) Emerging from the toxic spirituality swamp

First of all, to find a spiritual path that is really true and relates to reality, you have to eliminate those which are not true and don’t relate to reality.

These days with the New Age movement, that means shedding a lot of self-calming nonsense about “high vibrations” and “the Law of Attraction.”

Listen: being positive is great and vibrations sound pretty sexy. But if you want to actually make progress in yourself and on your life you need to be skeptical about easy answers.

Many gurus will tell you all about how you’re trapped in low vibrations or need to visualize a better future.

But the truth is that even well-meaning gurus can get it wrong.

In this eye-opening video, the shaman Rudá Iandé explains how he himself got stuck in the spiritual swamp and how he got himself out!

As he says in this video, real spirituality and answers about the meaning of life need to be empowering and true, not just “happy.”

If you want real answers and you’re tired of oversimplified New Age jingoistic junk food, I highly encourage you to check out what Rudá has to say.

Click here to watch the free video.

7) To be healthy in your body

What’s the point of being alive?

Well as I’ve emphasized right at the start, the point is first of all to be physically alive and hopefully remain that way for a significant period of time.

As such, physical health is your first requisite.

If your body is falling apart and very ill, you won’t be alive for long nor will you be able to begin exploring much of the deeper aspects of spiritual meaning and purpose.

Being healthy in your body is a challenge for many of us, especially those born with a disability or afflicted with serious illness or injury.

Even to those of us blessed with a body that’s healthy and whole, the temptations of unhealthy diet, a sedentary lifestyle and destructive addictive behaviors can be very damaging indeed.

Make a commitment to look after your body and your wellbeing will increase exponentially, freeing you up more to pursue your purpose!

8) To be well in your mind

These days practically everyone I know is in therapy.

And you know what?

The world is pretty messed up, the economy is inflated and there are many broken families and bad things going on from addiction to anxiety.

But I also think that psychologists have a tendency to pathologize pain.

You’re sad? You’re mad? You’re mentally ill!

Well, maybe so…

To be well in your mind, to me, means to know yourself and know what drives you.

It also means to be aware of the challenges you have and the actions you can take to resolve them.

Being mentally well is about accepting that some pain and confusion is part of life, while taking steps to resolve the difficulty and frustration that reaches the level of boiling over or becoming truly pathological.

Knowing the difference makes all the difference, as well as understanding that some mental instability may be natural right now.

As the comedian and commentator Russell Brand said recently:

“Society is collapsing, and people are starting to recognize that the reason they feel like they’re mentally ill is that they’re living in a system that’s not designed to fit the human spirit.”

Brand is 100% correct about that.

9) To be in touch with your emotions

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In order to embrace your purpose and find a spiritual path it’s also crucial to be in touch with your emotions.

Rather than dividing them into the dualistic idea of “good” and “bad” emotions, try thinking of emotions more like natural forces.

Is a river “bad” when it rushes and foams over its banks? Yes, when that floods farms and destroys crops and lives it’s demonstrably harmful. But when a river does this and it is enjoyed by white water rafters it’s a great blessing!

It depends what you use it for.

The same with emotions.

If sadness makes you reach the point of wanting to harm yourself or give up on life, it’s demonstrably harmful. But if you can use sadness to make yourself reflect on what you want to change in life and write beautiful poetry, it can be a friend to you at times.

As the Persian poet Rumi wrote in “the Guesthouse:”

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

 

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture, still,

treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

10) To connect and share with others

The way to find your purpose in life and to embrace a spiritual path is through connecting and sharing with others.

Regardless of whether you’re extroverted or introverted, we all obtain meaning through some form of interactions even if they are minimal.

Even if you don’t talk the entire day and just go to your fridge and fry three eggs, you just invisibly joined yourself to the chain of people who helped farm those eggs and the chickens who laid them.

On the broader scale, life has so much potential and there is so much you can do to connect with others and make an impact in your own life and everybody else’s.

As the author John Green writes in his 2006 book An Abundance of Katherines:

“What’s the point in being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable? How very odd, to believe God gave you life, and yet not think that life asks more of you than watching TV.”

Whether or not you believe in God, I think we can all agree that Green is onto something here!

11) To rise above the ever-changing tide (by embracing change)

The one thing you can’t change is change.

Even after you’re physically dead the world will continue to change.

A stone eventually becomes sand and even the greatest achievement will one day be in the past.

The key to transcendence and finding meaning is to find stability in the change itself.

The process of change is something you can make friends with by fully accepting. Live under the shadow of its wing, and let the tides of change become your mantra.

As legendary martial artist Bruce Lee famously said:

“Life is never stagnation. It is constant movement, un-rhythmic movement, as we are, in constant change. Things live by moving and gain strength as they go.”

12) To leave a living legacy

What’s the point of being alive?

To leave something behind after you’re physically gone.

For some that will be descendants, institutions, books, ideas, legacies of love, legacies of hate, revolutions and wars, peace treaties, tragedies and triumphs.

We all leave a living legacy of some kind, even if it’s only to the few who knew us or somebody years after our death who finds something about us or those who knew us that touches them.

What will your legacy be?

Leave a living legacy while you’re alive by making every day true to who you are and what means the most to you.

Live, love, laugh. Or hate life, get angry and shout. At least be real!

Do something! And make it authentic!

Life is short, but it’s worth it.

It’s a great day to be alive

If you ask me “what’s the point of being alive?” I’d have to tell you that the point is to forget that such a question even exists.

It’s to be so engaged in living and in living your purpose that the philosophical questions fade into the background.

The meaning of life is in practice, not in theory.

I love what Lee also said in this regard:

“If you want to learn to swim, jump into the water. On dry land no frame of mind is ever going to help you.”

Amen to that!

It’s the difference of thinking and talking about love for a year versus even one kiss with somebody you truly love.

It’s tilling the fertile soil on a small farm you own and then going in at the end of the day and having an ice cold drink of beer.

It’s finding God and spirituality in a way that empowers you and makes life’s mysteries come alive for you in ways you never expected.

It’s finding true spirituality and authenticity that connects you to a deeper sense of self, a visceral and radical life that doesn’t need outer validation or labels.

It’s wrapping your arms around friends you love or your precious children you are raising and caring for while also teaching them how to be independent and forge their own path in the world.

The meaning of life is to live your purpose.

The meaning of life is to live. Now.

As the psychologist Viktor Frankl memorably said:

“Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who asked.”

Paul Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer. His book Cultworld was published last year. Follow him on Twitter @paulrbrian and visit his website at www.paulrbrian.com

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