“To be the eyes and ears and conscience of the . . . universe” – Kurt Vonnegut

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Quote of the Week

A perspective for you to think about, meditate on, journal on, take action on

“What is the purpose of life? . . .   To be the eyes and ears and conscience of the Creator of the Universe, you fool!”   — from Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Breakfast of Champions

It actually doesn’t matter to me whether you agree with the quote’s answer.  The important thing is that you have an answer to the question.  Beyond specific goals and values, is there some over-arching idea that guides your life?  A belief that informs your goals, priorities, and daily actions?

Even if you believe, “We’re born, we live, we die, that’s it.  There is no God; we’re just a random biological chance,” you can craft a life purpose that creates meaning for you.  In fact, this may be especially necessary if you don’t believe in God or the idea that we are here to do God’s will.  Why would you want to do it?  Because having and pursuing a life purpose protects us from getting too self-involved and lost inside ourselves, which never leads to a good place.  Research is now proving what many philosophers—eastern and western, secular and religious—have long taught: we humans are happier and more fulfilled if we care deeply about something other than ourselves; if there is more to our days than food, shelter, sleep, sex, and recreation.  In short, life without meaning or purpose is flat and depressing, while having a purpose can help us persevere through incredibly hard, even horrific, experiences.

Is your “life purpose” totally made up?  Maybe.  So what?  The answer, “There is no point or deeper meaning” is also made up; none of us can definitively prove what the true answer is.  So why not choose an answer that helps you be better, happier, and more motivated?  We’re here and we have an awareness that other beings on the planet don’t have; we might as well do something good with our time and gifts.

So what’s your answer?  What is the larger purpose of your life?  Maybe you agree that it’s “to be the eyes and ears and conscience [] of the universe;”  maybe you believe it’s love (or 42);  maybe it’s something else.  Maybe you’ve never thought about it.  If not, I urge you think about it: What is your grounding principle?  If you have identified your life purpose, are you living in alignment with it?  What in your daily life can you change to get more focused and pursue it more fully?

 

RESOURCES

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.  Mr. Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, believes that our primary drive in life is the discovery and pursuit of what we find meaningful; in this book, he explains how having a greater life purpose helped him and others survive the Nazi death camps and then move on with life after the war ended.

Can Money Buy You Happiness?  “If you think money can’t buy happiness, you’re not spending it right,” says Michael Norton.  This TED Radio Hour segment provides one example of how thinking beyond the basics of daily life and doing for others can make you happier (and more interesting).

 

Photo courtesy of Will Milne via Snapwi.re

Alexandra Marchosky
Alexandra Marchosky
I coach individuals and organizations to do and be better by more fully living their values.
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