What’s the Point of Life? – Take life as you find it, but don’t leave it that way

After work, the four members of the marketing team went to the pub for their weekly get-together. Unlike the past, today’s subject was a heavy one. Instead of talking about sports, politics, or women, they broached the subject of LIFE. Casper started. “You know,” he said, “life is nothing more than a sexually transmitted disease, and a terminal one at that.”

“You’re right,” Xavier chimed in, “all life is, is a substance that temporarily prevents our bodies from rotting.” On a more benign note, Spencer yawned and said, “Life is something you do when you can’t sleep.”

While pushing the frame of his eyeglasses firmly on his nose, Errol added, “Here’s what I think. A person who works hard and accomplishes a great deal meets the same fate as one that doesn’t, for they both die. So, what’s the point of it all if it all ends in death?”

Those who, like Errol, can’t help wondering what the point of it all is are focusing on the wrong thing, death. For if you focus on life, the answer immediately becomes clear. The point of it all is to live a life of exuberance, joy, excitement, and wonder. The point of life is to experience the excitement of discovery, joy of achievement, and wonder of mystery. The point is to take delight in the surprises that constantly come our way.

Simply put, the point of life is to enjoy it; that is, to live IN JOY. Since we cannot give away what we do not have, it is important that we meet our own needs first. Ultimately, however, the reason for enjoying life is to make the lives of others enjoyable. For as George Eliot (pseudonym of Mary Ann Evans Cross, 1819 ~ 1880) wrote, “What do we live for; if it is not to make life less difficult to each other?”

Adam Lindsay Gordon (1833 ~ 1870) expressed similar sentiments in verse:

“Life is mostly froth and bubble,
Two things stand like stone,
Kindness in another’s trouble,
Courage in your own.”

The point of it all is to make a point, to have a reason for being, to be a point of light by making a difference. In other words, the purpose of life is to live a life of purpose. Usually, we don’t have to waste time trying to discover our life purpose because it is not to be found, but to be created by us.

If your personal calling is not obvious to you, be still for a moment and ask your inner wisdom for guidance. Franz Kafka (1883 ~ 1924) explains: “Life’s splendor forever lies in wait about each one of us in all its fullness, but veiled from view, deep down, invisible, far off. It is there, though, not hostile, not reluctant, not deaf. If you summon it by the right word, by its right name, it will come.”

What’s the point of being successful and having plenty to live on if one has nothing to live for? So, pick a cause. It is belief in something greater than you and enthusiasm in pursuing it that makes life worth living.

Some complain about the minor irritants and misfortunes that come their way. But so-called ‘problems’ are blessings for they provide the contrast that allows us to enjoy life. For example, Canadians love to escape from their harsh winters by visiting Florida and Hawaii. They find the contrast in weather delightful. So it is with the rest of life. The reason we enjoy the good times so much is because of the bad times. So, learn how to accept the bad with the good. Or, as Roger C. Anderson put it, “Accept that some days you’re the pigeon, and some days you’re the statue.”

Others complain that life isn’t fair, but that hardly is the case. After all, rich or poor, male or female, young or old, we all receive the same allotment of 86,400 seconds a day. That’s fair isn’t it? If some choose to use that time wisely and others choose to squander it, that’s not the fault of life, is it? Also, what can be fairer than reaping what we sow?

Besides, as Lewis L Dunnington explains, “What life means to us is determined, not so much by what life brings to us as by the attitude we bring to life; not so much by what happens to us as by our reaction to what happens.” Thomas L. Holdcroft shares an equally valid view, “Life is a grindstone. Whether it grinds us down or polishes us up depends on us.”

Some believe in life after death, but what about life after birth? What’s the point of life if you’re not really living it? You probably agree with Philip Larkin (1922 ~ 1986) who wrote, “Life has a practice of living you, if you don’t live it.” So, get involved with life by doing and experiencing as much as possible. After all, not to engage with life is not to live at all. Isn’t it better to die alive than to live dead?

Because of the brevity of life, the time to start living is now. Here are three quotes to forcefully bring home this message: 1. “For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away (James 4:14). 2. “This life of separateness may be compared to a dream, a phantasm, a bubble, a shadow, a drop of dew, a flash of lightning.” (Buddha, 568 ~ 488 BC) 3. “When one subtracts from life infancy (which is vegetation), sleep, eating and swilling, buttoning and unbuttoning – how much remains of downright existence? The summer of a dormouse.” (Lord Byron, 1788 ~ 1824)

Yes, life is like a taxi. Whether you’re an active participant or not, the meter keeps ticking. But don’t despair, for today you still have 100% of the remainder of your life left. You still have time to act. You still have time to make the right choice. And while we’re on the subject of choices, remember that “There is a choice you have to make, In everything you do. And you must always keep in mind, The choice you make, makes you.” (author unknown)

So, don’t take life for granted. Take it with gratitude. And leave it in better shape than you found it. Do you want to guarantee a successful life and peaceful death? Then follow the advice of Christian Fürchtegott Gellert (1715 ~ 1769) who wrote, “Live as you would have wished to live when you come to die.”



  1. The comments have brightened my weekend, for though I may have suffered depression all my adult life at least I have had the good fortune not to have been born a damned yank.

  2. By the way you forgot the “it” of all:
    John 14:6 ““I am the way and the truth and the life” stated by the one who resurected. Every other quote comes from men who are still dead. You see only humans can alter history and ponder on these questions. The reason is that eternity has been planted in our souls. we all feel the need to abide with the One who created all. And He shows the way , the point of life is to know Him , the source of all good. John 16:33 “I have spoken all this to you in order that in me you may have peace. In the world you have affliction. But keep up your courage: *I* have won the victory over the world.” And therfore He offers us the victory if we can believe Him.>>>All our questions have been asked and answered before in the bible. But Western civilization has chosen to ignore this and now< after achiving such high leves of academia, seeks answers in mythology, and in the dead end phylosofies of the east. Yes time is ticking , the clock is running,but He is near. Seek Him out and He will answer.

  3. You people are all depressed!!! In America life is awesome!! I was born out of wedlock, grew up in The Bronx, poor as hell, moved to PR, lived in a cardboard house in my granmothers back yard. My home income was 3500/year!!.But I did what my mom said,” dont do drugs or alcohol; study, work hard at it,because in the future technology will shrink the middle class opportunities (and i’m 49!!!)”.So I went to public school in NY,then in PR. The good old USA has sholarships for the poor so college for me was free.Then medical school with USA student loans,done by 25, then i did my specialty in NY done by 28. Then I worked my ass and kept a low income lifestyle so I payed off 100,000 dollar student loan in 3 years done by 31. (most Doctors make 3-4x what a policeman makes, not ten, but school is 11 years after college). If disease is not the issue then, in America, life is what you make of it and that includes not being a complainer, not living with a heart of envy, not making stupid choices which bring horrible outcomes. But like an athlete, focusing on the goal and not waisting time. Now I can help sick people, sad people, and have a fullfilling life. This is the only country in the history of humanity that has generated the most amount of educated people, the most amount of new self made rich peolple( not inherited), that has the least amount of poverty. and this is the only country where90% of the poor have tv,radio,internet,cars,a good roof,food, free school,clothing,washing machine,dishwasher and medicaid. This is all due to Capitalism and a representative Republic. You can be in the 99% and choose to be in the 1%, it’s in your hands.

  4. I believe that the pursuit of the answer is the essence of humanity. Life is just about the question, not the answer.

  5. JT, fair point. I’ve asked myself the same thing during my life. A lot of times my life just really sucked and things seemed hopeless. But then things would get better, usually beyond what I ever thought possible for me. If you “disappear” then you just close the door on some good things you might have experienced. Instead of maybe having an ok life, you just for sure don’t.

    I don’t know about finding a “reason”, life just “is”. Like ghost face said, it’s something to do. Unless I’m in tremendous pain then I’d rather take whatever the cards deal me than take nothing.

  6. Very late to this thread but to Steve M’s statement, “Animals don’t ask questions like this (What’s the point in not taking advantage of what we do have?), it’s our human emotions that can create pessimistic outlooks that take over our mind like a virus.

    Animals also don’t have debt, laws, poverty, wealth, responsibilities, jobs, etc..; It comes down to the basis of this question: If I have experienced life (at whatever age), have nobody to live for, no reason, what’s the point of waking up every morning for a job you hate (let’s face it, there just aren’t that many good paying jobs that people like, let alone, love), to make a paycheck to pay your bills when you could just as easily disappear from existence & be done with it all?

  7. I don’t think we will ever know the meaning of life b/c none of us asked to be born so when we are born it is almost as if we don’t know what to do with ourselves.

    I wasn’t concerned about the meaning of life until I got cancer last year. Treatment brought on a lot of suffering. I looked at my mother one day and thought to m/s “why did you bring me into this world?” I just finished radiation treatment after going through chemo for 5 months, then surgery, and I still cannot feel my toes and everything I touch feels like sandpaper.

    So, I really have meaning of life questions. I really believe that life is a curse. My sister thinks we are all born for a purpose, like if I were not born I wouldn’t be here to raise my nephew b/c his mom, my sister has stage four cancer.

  8. You misinterpret great quotes as a child would. Life is not about accepting what circumstance throws at you. It is about overcoming all the problems.

    To recognize a negative is the first step in producing a positive. Quote that.

    Life is not easy, and to pretend that it is, is simply deceitful. You clearly do not know that.

    I know you mean well, but before you understand what it is to really live, you will never have anything to say that is worth hearing. Ultimately, there is a big piece missing in your work and in your life, and you know that. You may not know what it is yet, but when you find it, you’ll be better off.

    So until that day, stop trying to give advice, and work on yourself.

  9. I see every day the damages of a society where the “elite” behaves like the monarchy which existed once in Europe.
    Try to convince people who were born their feet in mud (to not use another expression) : there is so few who success that people point them with their finger when they do. The system needs to change but how many of us have access to the tools to proceed to this change. Most of them are held by the elite which give themselves good conscious by giving away crumbs of the unfairly earned money. Do you find normal that a country singer or rap singer earns more money that a paramedic, a doctor earns 10 times what a police officer earns…The system is corrupted and all the successful people living from it can give away all the amount of money they want, once they will be for God like everyone else what will they answer to the question : why didn’t you do anything to make life more fair (because they didn’t want to, they liked it like that). If once can not take off his shackles and free himself from surviving (be able to eat, have a roof…) how many do u think could reach their dreams or goals.

  10. “Live as you would have wished to live when you come to die.”
    In a democraty this would be possible for everyone. In a capitalistic country like our USA, that is another story…

  11. a nice conception of life. Unfortunately the society doesn;t give the same chances to everyone at the birth and the today society put alot of shackles to poor people and low middle class who, at the best of their efforts can only “survive” and…dream…or try to catch the piece of meat on a table to high for them but that alot of people fed by them make them believe that they will success to catch it, like that they keep feeding them…Welcome in USA.

  12. I’m not sure where i heard this (possibly here):

    The meaning of life is our reponsibility aka response-ability aka our ability to response.

    Withing the response lies two triggers. The ability to response to fear
    The ability to response to love

    From these two stems everything else.

    I love it. So simple. Yet so profound.

  13. this is all bullshit, a bunch of rubbish spouted to fill a hole where there is truly no answer. The fact is we are organisms just like the rest on this planet, be it advanced ones, and we are the bi product of process that began to occur when the right elements met the right conditions, a statistical inevitability in an area of probability that is the universe. That doesn’t make us worthless but in fact incredible and rare but the idea that an individuals life is given meaning through experiences is a waste of the potential of the faculties we have developed through evolution. We have the gifted ability to be aware of our existence and it’s rarity. It’s that in itself that is the meaning of life not to just be joyful and happy in experience, although nice things to be, but drive towards the continuation of the entirety of our existence and the other organisms we share it with.

  14. You can only find the answer to life by looking within, and I dont mean that in some new age bullshit kind of way. External answers can guide you but you must ultimitely use your own intuition.

    Trust yourself.

    Meditation, meditation, meditation.

  15. Life is the pursuit of what man chooses it to be.
    Life is the purpose that draws us together, IN HAPPINESS, in whatever that may be.
    Life is a ride in where you can choose your path… people are blinded by the thought of the end of the ride, and not the path.
    Life is something to enjoy. Find a purpose, live your life, for to change is something great, to change the world around us is something greater. Don’t leave the road as you found it. LIVE!

  16. There seems to be a lot of whinging here. Wake up. If you don’t like something then go and do something about it! Of course there are going to be things you don’t like, but that is life! Thats what should make you go out and change things. Its your choice, you can sit there and whinge or try to do something…

  17. “I find we put alot of time studying and working. To work for what? Im not saying you shouldn’t try , but i just wonder. We spend a whole deal of time to make a future more successful. I guess money wont buy you lost time. It really confusing. idk”

    Andrew, I agree that we put in a lot of time working for pointless stuff (money). But studying is important. I believe that if you have the viewpoint that you have, that you should work to make everyone else’s experience on earth more enjoyable. By studying you help others since you’re increasing the overall knowledge of man. And if you still feel like you’re doing nothing, you can study something that will help others, such as medicine or biomedical engineering. Advances in medicine make life enjoyable for so many other people. Imagine if you were a person who, as a result of advances in medicine, got to live an extra 10 years? Or a veteran from war who lost a leg. Imagine if you could walk again. Keep studying, it helps others!

  18. Nice words, but no answer on the question What’s the point of life? in my oppinion you can find the answer only in holly books bible, quran etc. life is given to us and we are trying to look like we are understanding it, we work, play, sleep, fight quarrel as though we know what is going on. lol. it’s all fake. we don’t we just acting and trying to get some food and shelter. lol.

  19. Sometimes in life you fall down but you learn to pick yourself up. Sometimes it seems everything is pointless and lifes not worth living but you always have to survive, becuase things always get better 😛

    Live every day like its your last, never back down, never regret. Yeah most people are wankers, but put your hands in the air and shout fuck the world becuase your worthy to live in it XD

    The point in life is to do whatever you live for 😉

  20. Life is a pursuit of who you are you can have no life and still he alive think about that when something fuels you to go on and try to live that is life! I know the meaning of life!!! Life is about trying to live! Lisent carefully live and life are to different words with meanings so entangled we believe a silly thing that life is living. In truth yes life is living, but what most people are thinking is that living is life! Think about that stupid misbelife that living is life if life is all you have to live for you would be better off dead, but when living is your life then you would be better alive think about that… Living is life no the other way around.

  21. I find we put alot of time studying and working. To work for what? Im not saying you shouldn’t try , but i just wonder. We spend a whole deal of time to make a future more successful. I guess money wont buy you lost time. It really confusing. idk

  22. Jaid, how do you know there are not good things possible in your future if you wanted that? There are many things to enjoy in life, see http://www.personal-development.com/chuck/boredom-cures.htm for some ideas. What’s the point in not taking advantage of what we do have? Animals don’t ask questions like this, it’s our human emotions that can create pessimistic outlooks that take over our mind like a virus.

  23. Whats the point in carrying on with life, if youve got nothing good to live for and your going to die one day anyway?

  24. I don’t know, when life kicks you down, there is usually still life to embrace. A relative of mine recently broke his spine at the young age of 21 and still in college. I suppose you could say he was kicked down by life, but he chose to remain positive and still embrace life with a sense of humor. My grandpa was like this to the end, on his deathbed with skin cancer and pumping morphine into himself yet still sharing stories with his grandkids, laughing, and saying he lived a good life. The only other alternative is to get depressed, it’s ultimately up to you but the mind is a powerful thing and can just make things worse. Read http://amzn.to/fDeYoH

  25. What about those of us who keep trying, but life – the inevitable dream killer – always strikes again? Kind of hard to experience “Life” as you have it stated here when you haven’t the means to do so due to constantly being kicked in the teeth by illness, “fate” etc.

    Life is suffering, life is terminal. And this is insulting to me because I have tried time & time again to ease my suffering and that of those around me, but life… ah, life. It strikes again.

  26. Affluence has it’s benefits, however there is so much in life that takes little or no money; the mysteries of nature, the excitement of relationships and friendships, the achivement of learning that is available to many more now via the Internet. See http://bit.ly/9NBNJj for another perspective on money. For some exciting free learning, check out two websites I love: http://www.ted.com and http://www.khanacademy.org

  27. This sounds like someone who’s never experienced a drop of existential dread.

    The advice found here seems to surface most frequently in affluent, first-world societies.

    “The point of life is to experience the excitement of discovery, joy of achievement, and wonder of mystery”

    I guess that sucks for people without the means, eh? Especially since the point of life doesn’t include massively inconveniencing oneself in order to provide such people with the means…

  28. life is the now and doesen’t realy have a meaning…
    it’s just nature… life wants to go on evolve. it will alwais have a way. life goes on and on and on.
    but YOUR life is what you do with that given time.
    that’s the point live the way you want to.

  29. The point of life is to take every second to prepare for the afterlife, which is what remains. This life is only a passage, a phase.

  30. your right and there is only 31536000 seconds in a year and 3153600000 seconds in 100 years

  31. this was a really cool article and it gives some good points and it gave me something to read during my science class.

  32. I was upset and pessimistic until after I read this, now I’m going out with my friend tonight 🙂

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