On Purpose

Most of us would like to believe that we are here for a reason. That our life has meaning. Others have come to the realization that there is no such reason. That we are here by chance. Our consciousness a blessing of mother nature and infinite time.

And even if some of us are reasonable enough to admit that we have no supernaturally assigned destiny we still tend to believe that we make our own destiny – if we be so conceited to believe in such a thing. We believe, even if subconsciously, that our reason for existing is somehow of different value than our neighbors.

But if we are truly the creation of mother nature – star dust miraculously combined over billions of years – we must admit to ourselves there is no supernatural meaning behind it all. And if there is meaning, or purpose, it is only because we defined it ourselves.

If we are to conclude, rationally, that all meaning has been defined directly by other humans we must also conclude that each individual has the right to define their own purpose. And furthermore, in a cosmic sense, no one person’s purpose is any more correct or valuable than another person’s.

One person may chase money and fame. Another may dream after women and fancy cars. Yet another may dedicate himself to the cause of morality and the betterment of mankind. And while we, as humans, may arbitrarily define one better than the other it is all ultimately meaningless – until we decide for ourselves to give it meaning.

So it follows – if we define our own purpose and all purposes are cosmically equal – we can and should learn to be satisfied with any pursuit we so choose as long as it increases happiness and decreases suffering.

The ultimate goal: to maximize happiness and to minimize suffering. And the path for achieving this is no doubt different for every individual.

This should be comforting. Knowing that whatever we choose to do is equally as important as what anyone else chooses to do. Regardless of one person’s arbitrary assignment of one thing being more valuable than another.

We can happily work on model planes, write a silly blog, dedicate ourselves to family, or travel the world – and as long as our purpose ultimately increases happiness and decreases suffering – you have been successful.

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4 thoughts on “On Purpose

  1. philebersole

    Here’s a quote I like. I don'[t know the source.
    .
    There is no meaning or purpose,
    save what we give ourselves.
    There is no justice or mercy,
    save what we give each other.

    Reply
  2. Jon

    I agree Att.

    One question that I was thinking about though. In terms of “… as long as it increases happiness and decreases suffering” — should this refer to the person’s own happiness/suffering? the happiness/suffering of others? Both?

    Reply
    1. Atticus C. Post author

      When I was writing this post I was thinking of the person’s own happiness. But a general thesis of mine has been the value of human/natural rights/liberties. So perhaps a more accurate sentence would have been “as long as it increases happiness, decreases suffering, and doesn’t interfere with anyone else’s ability to do the same…”

      Reply

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