Purpose and meaning

MM7214050704_3323“Happiness,” Helen Keller wrote, “is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” In a society bent on individualism, the insight bends the mind a bit. But think a minute. To realize what great stream of life flows in us, to discover who and what we are and then to give ourselves over to the energy and drive of it for the sake of the world at large has got to be the greatest personal insight in life. Life can be pleasant and privileged and prestigious. But that is not enough. The truly happy life, the philosophers tell us, is about activity. Not just any activity. Not just activity that keeps us busy or has the appearance of importance. The truly happy life is about activity that gives a sense of purpose to life. It is, in other words, activity the intent of which is to do good –  to go beyond our own interests and claims-to the needs of the world around us. If we ever want to be happy, then, we need to move beyond the level of simple material satisfaction to the development of the spiritual dimension of what it means to be human. We not only need to find out what we do best and do it to the utmost. We need to ask ourselves again why we were born.

Joan Chittester, Following the Path, Finding Your Purpose

One thought on “Purpose and meaning

  1. Hi Karl,

    I have thoroughly enjoyed this post and the next two as well. Much of my journey shifted after discovering the existential philosophers and their works. Many of the things that I had walked through in life, I had no idea the foundational nature of them to the Human Experience. My wife introduced me to Rollo May, then Paul Tillich, and finally Victor Frankl. Each have contributed greatly to my understanding existence, and also helped bring some light to the obscurities I witnessed within the American Christian setting.

    Thanks for taking up the theme!!

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