What is Purpose in Life?

I’ve written a few articles on Purpose in Life in relation to the medical literature. A few key rating instruments have been designed to assess this construct and have been used in lots of research in this area. However despite all of this, I think its reasonable to ask just exactly what’ Purpose in Life’ means. I don’t think there is a right answer but from the reviews below there are a few themes that have developed. Thus one feature of Purpose in Life is that it is holds meaning for a person. Another is that there is a social aspect to it. Having purpose is about finding a social meaning in life – a meaning which includes other people. This is not an abstract theoretical concept but from the studies below is a belief system that appears to hold significant health benefits. Admittedly many of the studies are small and need replication but there is a theme that keeps emerging. In addition to this, I would further refine this by suggesting that Purpose in Life is a collection of values and it is these values that possibly hold an important key to our very identity, how we forms groups and also to important aspects of our health. There are of course limitations to this approach. There are many factors which contribute to health which are independent of such values but values do hold an important and perhaps underappreciated place in discussions of health. Maybe there is a need to develop a language to describe these values in more detail although that language is partially developed in psychotherapeutic models. If values do play an important role in explaining what Purpose in Life is then  perhaps the values which are likely to be shared will be important in more clearly defining Purpose in Life.  An exploration of values may be a useful starting point.

Appendix – Blog Articles on Purpose in Life

Purpose in Life. An Overview of the Literature – Part 1

Purpose in Life. An Overview of the Literature – Part 2. Scales

Purpose in Life. An Overview of the Literature – Part 3. Depression

Purpose in Life. An Overview of the Literature – Part 4. Purpose in Life Across the Lifespan: Adolescence and Early Adulthood

Purpose in Life. An Overview of the Literature – Part 5. Purpose in Life Across the Lifespan: Adulthood

Purpose in Life. An Overview of the Literature – Part 6. Purpose in Life Across the Lifespan: Older Adulthood

Purpose in Life. An Overview of the Literature Part 7. Purpose in Life Across the Lifespan

Purpose in Life and Conditions of the Heart

Purpose in Life and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Having a Purpose in Life and the Risk of Cognitive Decline

Having a Purpose in Life Reduces the Risk of Death

Purpose in Life and Caregiving

 

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6 thoughts on “What is Purpose in Life?

  1. Murray

    Do you touch on the fundamental purpose of life in the universe?

    Have you ever sat by a fast running mountain stream and seen those little whirlpools that form and move backwards against the flow of the stream?

    The laws of thermodynamics tell us that everything tends towards lower levels of organisation – things that are ordered become disordered until there is no longer any energy left to do anything.

    Life is one of the ways that the universe facilitates this process – entropy increases more in the presence of life that in its absence.

    In a way you might then see life as the universe’s way of not going down without a fight or of going down kicking and screaming.

    Once we understand that this is all there is to life in the big picture – no matter how complex or primitive and no matter where it exists – then we can see ourselves in true perspective.

    We may choose to look also at life from the perspective of various individual species so that we might also understand that of all species that ever existed, 99.99% are extinct.

    In such a state of inevitable humility, earth life and in particular, human life, can then be examined and all of its beauty, complexity and foibles exemplified in ways that may help us negotiate the path from birth to death.

    pop

    Like

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