What To Do When Your Life Feels Meaningless

by Alexander Heyne · 240 comments

I was a really annoying kid to talk to when I was younger.

I was always asking “God questions,” almost always revolving around the word “why.”

Why am I here.. what am I supposed to do.. where should I go next.. why do I have to do this..

And it pissed people off, I mean, for chrissakes sometimes you just do stuff and don’t question it, right?

Just go to work and eat bitter and suck it up.

Just use 2 cups flour and 3 eggs in the cake and stop thinking about it “why” they are in the proportions that they are in.

Just learn this material and stop asking why you’ll need to know all of this to be a doctor.

After I got out of the juvenile phase of life (where every “why” you ask gets a “because I said so” in return), I entered a new phase of life.

More people asking why.  Why am I here.. what do I need to do for the rest of my life..

And I thought: hmm that’s funny. First as a kid, now as an “adult.”  Everyone is still asking why. And most people are still giving themselves “because I said so” answers.

So once again I started asking myself WTF should I do with my life? What can I do with my life? What am I supposed to do with my life? And, most importantly, WTF do I want to do during my life? What makes it feel worthwhile?

Finding a Reason to Live

Survivors of all types of accidents or horrendous living conditions often share eerily similar stories.  Despite the harshness of the current reality, against all odds, they maintain some special sort of reason for going on (See the Stockdale Paradox)

They maintain a “why” beyond just “staying alive” that keeps them going.  They found some greater purpose.

Viktor Frankl was one such person.  He was a victim of the Nazi regime and spent several years in the Auschwitz concentration camp while his entire family and both parents passed away.  As his body was slowly whittling away and as thousands of people died around him he was deeply pondering the state of his life.

His mémoire, Man’s Search for Meaning, is interesting to me for one main reason: because one can watch his mind deliberate as it searches for a meaning in all the death, suffering, and apparent meaninglessness that was going on around him.

Frankl’s conclusion?

Life is not primarily a quest for pleasure, as Freud believed, or a quest for power, as Alfred Adler taught, but a quest for meaning. The greatest task for any person is to find meaning in his or her own life.”

The words hit an eerie nerve in me, after all — I know plenty of people my age making a lot of money, who outwardly appear happy, but inwardly they feel like what they are doing is pretty pointless.

So they just go ahead and do what other people are doing, to have some semblance of a sane, ordinary, normal and supposedly *happy* existence.

I ended up thinking about this more: the deepest human value, one that you can selectively pursue and cultivate to enrich your life, is it really happiness?

Or is happiness a consequence of doing things right?

“For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success — success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think of it.”

Searching for the wrong thing

I think there’s one particular reason why many of us feel completely lost. It’s because we’re searching for the wrong thing.

Many early philosophers believed that our primary motivation in life was personal pleasure or happiness — that’s just what we strive for and that’s just what our purpose is.  I mean, it makes sense:

  • What’s the most important thing according to your body, your ego? You, of course. Who do you look at first in a picture? Yourself.
  • We naturally shy from, say, putting our hand on a campfire (it hurts) and enjoy doing things like eating cookies and having sex. They make us feel good.
  • We help people: it either makes them feel good (which makes us feel good) or it directly makes us feel good.

There’s a good argument for straight up pleasure / happiness / joy being the sole purpose of life.

But what if pleasure / enjoyment/ happiness were just unintended byproducts. What if they were just positive consequences of doing the right thing and instead there was something you could deliberately cultivate?

There’s a better explanation for why we’re lost and why all of us constantly strive to find happiness at some point or another.

Happiness and Success as Un-Intended Side Effects

Ready for this?

The cure for being lost and feeling like your life is meaningless is not to re-find happiness.

The way to become unlost, happy, and successful is found all in one thing: purpose.

Through purpose you find passion, you find happiness, you find drive, you find meaning in an apparently meaningless existence. These all blossom as perfect byproducts.

And by purpose I don’t necessarily mean “your one ultimate purpose.”  Purpose, like happiness, isn’t static.  It’s not just “Oh I’ve always wanted to be an Astronaut since I was young!”

For some parents, raising their kids and being a good parent is their only purpose — but once their kids move out and grow up they suddenly find their lives feeling more meaningless.

College kids that graduate university are accustomed to having a purpose: pass this class, semester after semester after semester, and finally: graduate.  Once they graduate? Many lose their sense of purpose.

Normal every day people sometimes find purpose in others — a loved one for example — and once that person leaves their life they are crushed and fall into an existence that feels meaningless again.

Purpose, therefore, can be fleeting too.

But purpose – no matter how temporary – is so important because it makes you feel like what you are doing in your life actually matters.

And purpose is the ultimate fix for no longer feeling lost, no longer feeling like you’re in a dream or an observer of your own life.

It makes you feel in control.

Purpose in the Modern World

“… that feeling of which so many [people] complain today, namely, the feeling of the total and ultimate meaninglessness of their lives.  They lack the awareness of a meaning worth living for. They are haunted by the experienced of their inner emptiness, a void within themselves; In addition to this, however, man has suffered another loss…No instinct tells him what he has to do, and no tradition tells him what he ought to do; sometimes he does not even know what he wishes to do. Instead, he either wishes to do what other people do (conformism) or he does what other people wish him to do (totalitarianism).”

The feeling of meaningless is one of those scary nagging feelings we all get at some points in our lives.  We wonder if there is some grand scheme out there for our suffering, or why after working for a couple years in a job that’s “alright”  it doesn’t feel like it has a point anymore.

It’s because both happiness and success are closely tied to purpose.

It’s the reason why when you talk to so many 20 somethings that are in their first, or second, or fifth professional job, these days they’re like “It’s alright, It’s a job.”

Oh, really?

They have to convince themselves that what they are doing has meaning.

A pretty sad thought if you ask me.

Going Big or Going Home

Alright, so your life feels pointless.  Either you’re totally lost, or you have everything but it doesn’t seem to make a difference.

You’re getting paid, you have a good apartment, you have a car.  Now what?

There are 4 ways to get a life that doesn’t suck and destroy the feeling of meaninglessness. 

  1. Figure out your story
  2. Figure out what the hell you want and make a plan
  3. Determine your “why”
  4. Engage in flow producing activities

#1 What’s Your Story?

” You can’t go on without a story any longer than you can read a book about nothing… “

A while back I wrote one of the single most important posts for lost people who feel their lives are meaningless.

It’s called Getting Un-Lost and Re-Writing History and the big question it asks you is this:

What kind of story are you living?  What kind of story do you want to be living?

The problem with not having a story is that even if you experience a lot – travel, learn, try new things – you aren’t providing a context for all the experiences to occur in.

The experiences just become noise, they are random, chaotic, and although enjoyable, they don’t come together and provide any coherent feeling of “purpose.”

They aren’t part of a larger storyline.

If you don’t currently have a story there are 4 qualities inherent in any epic tale:

  1. A character who wants something,
  2. Has the potential for failure failure,
  3. Struggles,
  4. But does whatever it takes to realize the story and see it through
Without a fundamental underlying story, experiences, no matter how enjoyable or epic become noise.  The story is the lifeline, the backbone, the thread that connects all experience and makes them worthwhile.

#2 What the hell are you aiming for?

“I find it fascinating that most people plan their vacations with better care than they plan their lives. Perhaps that is because escape is easier than change.”

-Jim Rohn

People seem to be goal averse.  Maybe it’s because setting goals sets you up for disappointment (Oh, I didn’t lose 30 pounds like I said I would in my New Year’s resolution).

Or maybe it’s because people are lazy.

Or maybe it’s because people don’t know what they want or haven’t thought about what they want.

But there is one big reason why you should set goals – even arbitrary goals like running a marathon – and that’s because they give life structure.

At the basic, most fundamental level, the easiest way to turn a meaningless life into a meaningful one is to set a random goal and go for it.

The more facets your goal has, the better.

E.g. Building a business you care about is superior to learning a language (from a purpose standpoint) because it will take longer and has so many facets you can improve upon.

Really dunno what to do?

Learn Spanish (Better? Move to Spain and learn Spanish.)

Set arbitrary fitness goals: gain 20 pounds of muscle, lose 20 pounds of fat.

Make a bucket list of awesome things you want to do. Do one every week/month/6 months/year.

Remember these goals are random, superficial, and provide a temporary sense of purpose. They are, however, better than nothing and are an easy step into feeling like life is worthwhile.

Read: The manifesto and check out the section “Why You Can Never Get What You Want Unless..” On page 28.

 #3 What’s your why?

“Those who have a why to live for can bear almost any how.”


We already talked about the importance of having a story — a context for all the experiences that your life is made up of.

But there’s one other quality inherent in a meaningful life: why are you doing what you’re doing?

Why are you doing the work you do? For money? Or for some reason that provides real internal sustenance?

Why are you going to the gym? Is it to look good for your girlfriend/boyfriend/ or is it because you deep down want to do it for yourself?

Some people are more easily influenced by the “why” than others.  For example, some people can really defer their happiness and job satisfaction just working for money.

Others get severely depressed after a short time.

Similarly, some people can legitimately go to the gym and transform their bodies for another person — a guy who loses 50 pounds because his girlfriend is threatening to break up with him, for example.

Other people quit soon after because they realize what they are doing is not for themselves.

So when I ask “what is your why?”: why learn a new skill, why start a business, why run a marathon — “just because” is a fine answer in the short term, but to power you long-term the “why” will need to be something that deeply connects with a core value in your life.

Honestly think about the following two options and tell me which one you resonate with more:

  1. Starting a business so you can make much more money than you currently are.
  2. Starting a business because you’re tired of meaningless work, working for someone you dislike, working with people who dislike what they do, having your hours and schedule pre-arranged, etc.
What is the real, emotional, deep seated reason for doing what you’re doing?  
Read: Start with Why by Simon Sinek

#4 Engage in flow producing activities

Yes yes, by now you should know Doc. C is one of the main influencers of everything I do in my life.

This fourth way to avoid a meaningless life is a paradoxical one — it’s less easily sought out than the other 3.  In a nutshell, you are looking for an experience - flow, to be specific.

Being in flow is that magical moment when you do an unbelievably perfect shot during a soccer game — time freezes, the stars align, and you describe it as feeling “perfect.”

Being in flow is the artist’s muse – the concept of time evaporates, goals and structure don’t exist, only enjoyment and pure engagement in the current activity exists.

Flow is the state where most of us are happiest, where we feel in our element, where we feel challenged and as if our tasks and time are worthwhile.

I really could spend all day talking about flow as one of the singular most important concepts to learn about, but instead i’ll redirect to you several of the posts I’ve written on the topic.

  1. Making Greatness Part 2 (Discusses Flow in Depth)
  2. If Your Work Sucks, Learn About Flow

So in a nutshell, why seek out flow producing activities? They are inherently enjoyable, inherently feel meaningful, and are self-described as some of the most powerful transcendent moments of life.

Read: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Finding meaning in the 21st century

Distractions & diversions – that’s pretty much how I’d sum up the era we live in.

Literal, physical distractions like TV and the Internet, as well as psychological distractions like the preoccupation with money or success.

Killing distractions is but one small part of living a meaningful life — there are so many facets like meaningful work, quality relationships, and higher purpose.

But for starters, as things you can start today, the above 4 points: Your story, your goals, your why, and flow producing activities can easily take a meaningless life and turn it into a worthwhile existence, arguably the most important thing of all.

“What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment. To put the question in general terms would be comparable to the question posed to a chess champion: “Tell me, Master, what is the best move in the world?” There simply is no such thing as the best or even a good move apart from a particular situation in a game and the particular personality of one’s opponent. The same holds for human existence. One should not search for an abstract meaning of life.  Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated.”

-Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Books To Read That Will Help:

The defining decade by Meg Jay, is one of the best books for lost 20 (or 3o) somethings that are trying to figure out what in the hell path to take, especially if you’re looking to live an awesome, meaningful life.






Man’s Search For Meaning

Man’s search for meaning, by Viktor Frankl is a book I quoted above because it’s by far one of the best books regarding finding purpose in life. Viktor talks about how he was dying in a Nazi concentration camp, and the only thing that not only helped him to stay alive, but also find a sense of purpose while all the other people around him slowly died.





Photo Credit Iguanasan


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{ 226 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura Kimball March 7, 2012 at 12:37 am

You nailed it when you said that the origin of this problem is college and the fact that once you graduate, your life is no longer segmented in 10-to-12 week semesters but an endless sphere of time. Yes, you have to report to a boss and pay bills like rent, but there’s nothing that signifies “change.”

Purpose, what a big, enormous word that carries so much weight.


Alexander March 9, 2012 at 6:29 pm

Yeah I think most people just need to artificially give life structure in order to give it purpose. Hence why I think goal setting is important even if they are short-term goals.

And purpose is definitely a bit of an esoteric discussion going on here, but I think it’s really one of those big top 3 issues that people my age need to meditate on.


Nicole April 13, 2015 at 1:54 am

I thought my purpose was to write, but I no longer have any passion for it. I have a (useless?) degree in English Literature that took a lot out of me to earn. I cannot find work in the field, so I work in a bakery doing menial tasks. I’m so jealous of the other people I work with who never went to college and who now have cars, their own apartments or homes, and money saved away. I have none of that, and I’m almost 27 years old and still living at my mom’s house. My life truly feels like one big pointless joke.

Laura, I hope your college experience turned out to be worthwhile, unlike it was for me.


Alexander Heyne April 14, 2015 at 12:40 pm

Hey Nicole –

I was exactly where you were – and now you’re at an important junction. What’s the next step? Start taking it.

mike June 19, 2015 at 1:51 am

Nicole – I’m obviously reading all this b/c i’m struggling Now – but ur post made me think of my undergrad educational story (and this isnt to boast at all – just a saying there are usually more opportunities out there than one thinks). I majored in engineering, prob b/c my dad did – but i never really liked it, delayed semesters, struggled thru it, wondered how it took me so long to get to the end, and WTH was i doing going into a field i didnt like – and this about 28 yrs old. Long story short – coincidentely acquired a roomate that was a pre-med student, gave me exposure to something i thought was literally impossible for me to do, but i took a wild chance, finished my major while starting pre-med courses, volunteered in the medical field, met more genuine, ambitious, like minded friends than i could have imagined, and with a stubborn, dont let them close the door on you attitude, was accepted and started medical school at 31. (and not b/c of a shining GPA or MCAT scores – not even). I’m now graduated, completed residency, etc…, BUT the point is not what i did, for YOU its: you have a degree in something graduate programs in nearly all fields respect (def med schools – they like English majors b/c they tend to be more well rounded, open minded, somewhat “normal”), (but med school is just one example). There’s def more awesome goals/choices/opportunities out there than you think. Dont think ur washed up at 27 with an English Lit degree….You have unlimited Potential. You just have to keep your eyes open and be curious. : )

dr_mike September 18, 2016 at 6:42 am

Dear Nicole, you posted this more than a year ago, but I really need to reply because I was literally in the same boat some years ago. I’m European, living in Europe, and I even got two master’s degrees in philology (German/French/Italian/Spanish and Polish/Russian) plus a PhD in linguistics. For the master’s degrees I could pay by myself because I had to take some side jobs anyway, for the PhD i had to borrow some money that I’m now starting to pay back. I’m now working for the local city council, in a totally different (technical) field, but I might have an opportunity to get a job in education management right here quite soon. In that case, all the effort and expenses would have paid off.

The thing is, I think you should try to strive for something better. If you can’t land a stable job as a journalist, are disappointed and don’t even want to work in that area anymore, why don’t you try teaching, for example? You might or might not like it, but your experience as a teacher might get you another job – as in my case.

Steve Rice March 13, 2012 at 9:41 pm

You are so wise, Grasshopper! It took me so long to learn the connection of purpose fueling passion. I’m just now learning the fluidity of purpose and I’m getting comfortable with it!

LOVE Frankl, and so glad you mentioned his work. It’s a fascinating study on human behavior and psychology.

I’m so thankful I found your site over at Benny’s place (Get Busy Living). I’m grateful for the opportunity to write for him. I was hoping to connect with people just like you!

Added you on my Reader feed. Can’t wait to come back for more “good stuff!”


afheyne March 15, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Hey Steve thanks for stopping by,

Yeah Benny is a great guy, glad you found me through him!

And as much as I try to keep my writing and my tips practical.. sometimes a slightly-spiritual undertone comes out. Just can’t help it! People want more from life.

Good to meet you !



Vivek narain January 17, 2013 at 2:39 am

Hi Being a sort of psychic i can tell you mind boggling truths. Spiritual is more practical than any down to earth practicalism,my experiences tell me we are nurtured by disembodied spirits and if we are receptive we can comprehend what is our purpose here in fact even what career to pursue. I have found that carl jung was indeed a kind of messiah and sent to make us aware of the meaning of life. @rajalda

Tori April 3, 2012 at 2:58 am

Hey Alexander,

This is a great post and I absolutely love it and am glad you put it up! :D
This is just what I needed right now, for I am 20 and just graduated from polytechnic and like a lot of people my age, have no idea what to do next. College or work? If college, what are you going to study? are questions I always get asked. Honestly, I do not know. And even though they can’t tell, I am scared inside of course, as I find out that my life has no meaning.

I once had a “what’s the point of it all?” phase where I question the purpose of almost anything, everything. Then I came across a quote that goes something like this:

“There is no point. The only point is the point you give it.”

It was almost like an epiphany. It’s stuck with me ever since. This makes perfect sense and I sort of adopted it as my philosophy. Purpose is defined by our own selves. Since we’re already here, we might as well live a life filled with purpose, for as you said “makes you feel like what you are doing in your life actually matters.”

And on your question about which reason for starting a business resonates with me more, I chose 1, without even the slightest hesitation. I guess that really gives me something to reconsider about.

I too am thankful I found your site through Emilie from Puttylike! You’ve got a great blog and I can’t stop reading your posts. Keep up the good work. You’re doing an awesome job!

– Tori


afheyne April 3, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Thanks Tori!

Yeah I think purposeless-ness is one big characteristics of the new lost 20 somethings.

I TOTALLY agree with that quote you said “There is no point. The only point is the point you give it.” This is my exact perception of the world too – I’ve spent a lot of years thinking about meaning and purpose and what my purpose is, how do we find our purpose, etc.

And this is one of my conclusions (use it at your own risk): the idea that we have some “grand” purpose we are born with is one of the stupidest lies that society has put into our head. Just like our preconceptions about love are mostly due to hollywood and chick flicks, modern society has tricked us into thinking we have some great purpose that we need to find and everything will make sense.

Again that’s only my 2 cents, but for those of us who feel like life is purposeless or meaningless, the best way to find meaning is… GIVE it meaning.

And I appreciate the kind words Tori, thank you for stopping by !



Clivant April 4, 2012 at 8:50 pm

Hey, this post is inspirational.

I totally agree with the part about setting random goals. In addtion to setting random goals, I feel that we should always try to break up big goals into smaller ones. This will make those goals more achievable and keep us moving.ﹰ


afheyne April 5, 2012 at 2:53 pm


Yeah I totally agree with you on goals – an easy way to give life meaning (even if it’s just temporarily) is to set goals, and obviously in order to achieve those goals you need to break them into baby steps!



Edwin June 26, 2012 at 9:11 am

With reference to the college comment.

Thats exactly what I feel. I have just graduated from engineering, earning a fantastic salary, not much work stress at all, but life is soooo meaningless….


afheyne June 28, 2012 at 12:56 am

Hey Edwin,

Yeah I hear that. So do you have any plans to figure out how to make it different? That’s one of those things none of us are told. We may get that first sweet job. We may get that first apartment that is awesome. We may get that new car right out of college. But then what? So many of us feel like life has become so meaningless after that. Stuff to ponder !


Helen Wiles August 26, 2012 at 12:18 pm

I find having a portfolio career really helps with finding meaning and purpose. Using a diverse range of skills and having the flexibility to find that flow you talk about are all possible when you have a career that spans more than a single job title. Important to get the right elements in the portfolio otherwise you risk a portfolio without meaning but get it right and you’ll feel alive like never before!


afheyne August 27, 2012 at 11:37 pm

Helen — I agree 100%, having diverse interests also has the potential for you to find flow producing activities.


Ana August 27, 2012 at 11:27 pm

I don’t really know how did I end up here but I’m glad I did. This post is 100% and, to be honest, I knew all this before but I could never organize it in my head. I’m 18 and everyone keep telling me that I’m silly or I have all my life to take decisions when I tell them that my life is completely pointless. I keep losing my will to try new things, and now I can’t even fulfill my obligations. I think I stopped trying to achieve some goal when I convinced myself I wasn’t good enough, not even just to try it. I feel like I’m healthy, money was never an issue, I have a supportive family and awesome friends but I can’t enjoy anything. I don’t know what I want, I don’t want any of the things life can offer me. That’s why sometimes I feel like if I wanted to end my life…


afheyne August 27, 2012 at 11:40 pm

Hey Ana —

A book that has totally changed the way I view life is calling “Finding Your Own North Star” by Martha Beck. Most of us, when we start viewing life as meaningless and pointless have a couple things wrong: #1 Our thinking about life and #2 We have stopped trusting our intuition.

Ignore your intuition long enough and it’s easy to become stuck in a life that is miserable and totally un-aligned with what you want.

I highly suggest checking the book out! Let me know what you think.

Also check out “The happiness advantage” , another great book on Amazon.


Mike November 3, 2012 at 1:54 pm

I was compelled to read your website. Out of curiosity. Unlike prior posters, I’m not young (55). Since I was 4 1/2 years old (no lie, as a paperboy), I’ve worked my entire life. Part of growing up in a poor family. I focused on money and education. I kept my nose clean. I finished in the top 2% of my class, thinking that would get me some type of scholarship. Wrong. So I sold all of my belongings to fund my college education, the whole while thinking a piece of sheepskin would make life better for my family, and myself. Wrong again. My point is this. Chasing a buck will only get you the antlers. Thinking money is a measure of one’s self-worth is a fool’s dream. I’ve seen the highs, and the dregs (which I’m presently in). But there comes a time when one says “What was the reasoning? Why?”


Alexander Heyne November 5, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Hey Mike —

Yeah I hear you. Half of my family is immigrants (Haiti), and my girlfriend is an immigrant (Philippines), so there is a strong immigrant mentality in my family where success and achievement are the be-all end-all.

Can you explain a little more what you mean by “chasing a buck will only get you the antlers?” Are you referring to the idea that you chased the wrong things in your life?


Colette November 13, 2012 at 10:38 am

I am having a lot of problems in my life and this post has been very helpful to me. I have been putting my happiness and future in the hands of my son and boyfriend, and recently both of these have slipped though my fingers. I now realise that I must have something for myself that makes me happy, so that I am not left feeling alone and useless when these temporary good feelings go away. I understand that happiness and success could be by-products, but the problem I have now is that I am stuck. I am in the stage you have been talking about, I feel lost, but I was wondering if you could tell me how to find the motivation to set goals? I know that if I was to set a goal, such as finding a new hobby and getting some kind of award.. maybe losing weight, or getting a new job.. then I would feel good at the end, but I just can not seem to muster up some kind of reason why that particular goal appeals to me. I want to have a happy life and feel fulfilled at the end, and I don’t see how any of these short term goals are relevant to or will have any affect on my future. Do you have any advice on finding the motivation?


Alexander Heyne November 13, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Hey Colette —

“Finding” motivation is very hard. I’ve found that it doesn’t work.

Motivation happens naturally when you’re on a path that inspires you.

Rather than finding motivation to set goals and achieving them, go with your intuition.

Does your intuition tell you to go in one certain direction or follow a certain path? test out a certain job, etc?

It it does – follow it. If it doesn’t, and you feeel massive resistance and lack of energy in any direction, you’re going to have to fight that resistance and just make a move.

DO anything – switch jobs, force yourself to try something new, break up routine. Getting stuck and getting depressed are very scary for one main reason – they keep you paralyzed and unable to take action for months or potentially years at a time. Whatever you do – take action. I know it feels like maybe your intuition is dead and you have no idea which direction to go – but just make a move – forget how useful it is, or how much you like it, or where it’ll take you. Just move.

Motivation will come from growth !



Roxanne November 27, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Hi Alexander,

Thanks for the blog post! I loved the quotes and am going to write those down. I agreed with a lot of things you said and it was nice to see some of my semi-realizations put down into words.

I’ve been feeling really unmotivated and depressed lately – I moved to a new country for a year and thought that would solve everything, but I actually only became more depressed with the initial lack of social contact. I’m trying to be happy despite it all and have meaning, but how do I give my life meaning if I don’t know what I want? I used to want to work in an international non-profit and I still think I would enjoy that, but on the other hand I want to do something freer and artsy. I don’t want to go to grad school and be stuck wearing a suit forever.

Not to employ you as my therapist, but I just don’t get life. Doesn’t there have to be a meaning? Isn’t there some overall purpose? If I just fill my life with pointless goals and purposes, won’t I look back when I’m older and think it was all worthless? Even if I get my dream job and get married and have children, it will be nice for awhile but then I’ll die and the same thing will happen over and over again. Isn’t there something bigger? I really like your post, but it seems you are saying that life is meaningless and we just have to pretend it isn’t by filling our lives with meaningless but distracting goals and ultimately useless causes.

I could go on in this vein for awhile, but once I start thinking about this I just make myself more depressed! I really do want to be happy and fulfilled, but it sometimes seems like I would be living a lie if I ignore the truth that life is meaningless. Or something like that.

I’m kind of rambling above and feel free to not respond to that, but could you tell me what to do if I don’t know what my story is and what I want in life? I really have no idea what I want and I’m at the stage where I can’t just pick a path for fun – I either need to go to grad school, commit to another year abroad, or try to find a job back home. Ai yai yai!

Okay, thanks for reading and sorry it’s so long!!


Alexander Heyne November 30, 2012 at 11:03 am

Hey Roxanne —

The Short answer: One of the most interesting lessons I learned during a hard year of my life was this: If you THINK life has meaning, and you THINK that’s critical to your well-being, you will NEED a meaning.

But for people who DON’T think life has meaning, and DON’T think it’s critical to their life-fullfilment, they are happy doing whatever they want.

A perfect example is Religion — people often use religion to GIVE life meaning, and in the process make it easier to understand. When “Everything happens for a reason” suddenly you don’t feel so alone anymore, right? When everything you do suddenly takes on a purpose, there is no more worry and no more stress.

Without this getting into a theological/philosophical discussion, such is the power of the mind — I found myself thinking much more about purpose and meaning when I wasn’t fully satisfied and paying attention throughout the day. Often when you’re engrossed in what you’re doing you don’t have time to think about the grand-scheme of things.

I Would suggest two things

#1 (The most important) is stop thinking about life and focus more on enjoying it. It’s hard, and it’s almost that washed out “focus on the moment” cliche advice, but it’s more important than anything else. Depression, unhappiness, and lacking purpose are thinker’s diseases.

#2 Sit down and figure out what you want.

I’ve recommended books like Finding Your Own North Star which will help you do that. But sit down in a cafe for awhile and ask yourself, in the following domains, what do I want? Job, family, husband, kids, house, where I live, what I do, do I travel, am I in clubs or oganizations, etc.

The answer to “Doesn’t life HAVE to have meaning” is a bit philosophical – can any of us truly know? No. But like I said, whether or not you THINK LIFE HAS MEANING is much more important because it will affect your behavior and whether or not you are satisfied everyday or depressed.

E.g. Christians like to say that everything is for a reason – god has things planned for you and it’s all here to teach you something. Suddenly depression makes sense because it’s teaching you about life right?

Taoists will say that life has no inherent meaning – the only meaning is what you give, and the only purpose of life is to LIVE FULLY RIGHT NOW every single moment. Every moment is your purpose of life.

Other people will say that life has no meaning, so I’m just going to do whatever is fun.

See where I’m going? Your perception of life (e.g. whether or not there’s a purpose) is more important than the actual facts themselves.

My point is NOT That life is meaningless. It’s just that we’re born with a blank slate. Thoughts, ideas, religion, etc. all turn that blank slate into a dinner plate of various conceptions about life that alter our behavior.

Some (“this is all for a reason”) will improve our behavior and mood. Other modes of things (“Life has no purpose”) will make us depressed and unmotivated.

Also I emailed you so we can talk more !



whateeeever March 22, 2013 at 5:28 pm

hey, man
amazing insight. i got really depressed for 5 days, i couldnt do anything. and i kept on thinking and thinking, i thought i had gone mad, cuz i used to be soooo happy, like almost all the time, always spreading happiness, motivating others and getting my own work done. u are absolutely right, i will just do whatever is fun. i like some luxury things, so i like to get enough money to make some dreams come true. i know that i love to work, cuz i like the feeling of success and it gives me a purpose because somehow i am moving on with my life. ur reply was amazing. thanks :*

cns January 10, 2013 at 11:43 pm

I googled, “feeling lost in life feel like a failure don’t know what to do.”
Thank you, Alexander. Thank you.


Alexander Heyne January 13, 2013 at 5:51 pm

You’re welcome CNS! I hope it helps :)



Jakeo33 March 4, 2013 at 6:26 am

Great points. Especially the one where “you may have many experiences and travels, however they occur without context”

I was always dreamer and had a childhood dream to “become a …”. Mine was reasonable, but it was in a science field. And since I struggled a bit in school, it turned out that I hated school (And my grades) but loved academics! By 20, I was working two jobs, going to college (4 different ones because of a major switch), learning to fly airplanes, skiing all the time, etc. I had goals to at least become what most of my peers are at my age now. (33 years old). What I don’t get is older people *still*, despite my situation, tell me that I am “years” ahead of my peers. Now what is that suppose to mean and the purpose of life, when your peers all got to get married, have good credit because their parents paid for college, bought houses on daddies dime, and a great career where “everything just fell into place”… Therefore you can see the envy thingy developing there. While now, while I was starting to do things at 20 that many 30 years are now wanting to do and can, I now feel like a convicted felon high school drop out dope dealer with the worst possible credit rating because of college loans (defaulted. Burger King does not pay good enough and I refuse to rob a bank. You told me that I should go to college. AND I HAD DREAMS. Sorry society, I would do it again if I could), and barely hugged two girls in the last 10 years and I am not that ugly or have a nasty personality. Point is, with my existential crises is that I am learning that my 30’s are the HARDEST years of my life, while looking around and seeing many of my peers having their best (envy), while have intense and somewhat realistic dreams when younger only to work hard, fail and fail again only to ultimately fail. I am not a negative person by nature, however when you work hard at something with goals and fail to realize them in the worst possible way feeling like all that time spent was for nothing while living in an environment where it is cold and unfriendly to single men in their early 30’s (suburbs). I know what I need to do, but lack the resources to do it quicker which as you can see leads to more of a depressing pity party rather than a “go for the gold, shoot for the stars, in the flow” like experience right now. When my INTENTION was for it to NOT to end up like this to the point of exhaustion, depression, and lack of meaning. Sure it may be pity, however, one cannot simply hop scotch down the sidewalk singing about lolipops and cherry trees full of sunshine and positivity either without lying about your emotional state. The frustrating thing is not what I did not get to experience yet, but it is knowing that I know what to do to correct it, and the further my resources to go “get it” in life decreases, I am being put into this perpetual state of laziness all while STILL being told that I am “miles ahead of my peers” while I am the one failing and expressing negativity, while they seem to have everything perception. I write this so long because BAM. I am 33 and oh yea, my life feels meaningless especially in terms of all that my peers have (stuff that society expects of you at this age). But if I have to find one meaning, it would actually be that I am still, with near obsession, interesting with the same passions that I already FAILED in. So what ever quality that it…. somehow I need to apply it to the rest of my life. But I am lost and don’t know how. Therefore, finally making it seem like I am already over the hill and kicked the bucket at the age of 33!!! Thanks for reading and empathizing. Obviously I expect no one here to help me. This is not a self help blog. I just make, unfortunately a great example of this.. that somehow now I have to turn it into my purpose… remember that “somehow” I am miles ahead of my peers ya know!!?? LOL


Alexander Heyne March 6, 2013 at 6:47 pm

Hey Jakeo33,

It sounds like in your 20’s you were “miles ahead of your peers” because you were enjoying life and not slaving in the rat race. But in your 30’s, you were still enjoying life and not at all thinking about work —

So let me ask you this then, what is the one thing you’d want to change? What is your priority? Changing the field you work in?

It’s funny that you write me saying that 33 sounds old… man, there are 60 year olds emailing me telling me that they are “Gonna quit their jobs, fuck it.”

As far as I’m concerned, you can’t be “too old” to quit a shitty life and get a better one.


Khawar March 5, 2013 at 7:04 am

While you will be searching for meaning of life and go through a lot of books, don’t miss Quran.


**Reason** May 17, 2014 at 8:25 pm


This is the entire point of this dialogue — to address the existential concerns of persons ‘devoid’ of some identification with a framework that discourages the ability to think honestly about what we face.

The Quran **IS NOT** the place to look for answers to these questions. Nor is the Hadith, or any other document created by Islamic-pundits.

How does absolute predestination in the divine will of an absolutely unknowable being answer the question of “meaning, ” and, “purpose?”

This is about the real world — not, “anxiously anticipating my first opportunity at suicide-murder reality.”


Stefan March 5, 2013 at 10:49 am


Really enjoyed your post. I am having a bit of existential crisis lately. I quit my first job out of college after 6 months because I hated it. The past month I have been job hunting like a mad man. I have been super depressed, ruminating philosophical thoughts about the point of life. I mean do we really just work, retire, then die? For what? What is the point of anything? Did you go through something similar to this? Thanks for your time.


Alexander Heyne March 6, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Hey Stefan —

Yeah man I went through that A LOT, believe me. And I went through it in the good times, so you can imagine how much worse it got in the bad times.

The unemployed depression is the worst though – too much time, not enough structure. I would suggest getting a job ASAP — do it differently this time, and work on experimenting with something you enjoy.

That was my million dollar question: do we just work, retire, then die?

But what if your life was work = something you love that also pays the bills, retirement = 3+ months of travel every year, and death = at the end of a loooooong and exciting life.

That’s pretty much what my life looks like now (not even 2 years later). Life can change really quickly man, and can become exciting, fulfilling, rewarding.

You gotta ask yourself what lifestyle you DON’T want – and make sure all your moves don’t lead you there.

— Alex


lydia March 24, 2013 at 8:51 am

It doesnt seem fair that being an american we have the luxury to seek these answers. Meanwhile in war torn or impovershed countries people pray for a break. I dont understand why does life smile on some contries and take a dump on others. If all of us deserve happiness what gives?


Alexander Heyne March 28, 2013 at 4:21 pm

There’s no such thing as “deserving” happiness. No one deserves anything in life. Regardless of where you are now, you find ways to make the change towards a life you enjoy more.


aumma March 28, 2013 at 3:44 pm

I love it! Thank you so much!!


Alexander Heyne March 28, 2013 at 4:20 pm

You’re welcome Aumma :)


blacksnow April 7, 2013 at 3:39 am

Easier said than done. I kind of get the point, but what if you don’t really have anything that fires up your passion? I mean everyone can find their purposes and passions, but I don’t have one. I just sit lazily watching anime to cure my boredom. Everything seems so Ordinary for me.


Alexander Heyne April 7, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Blacksnow –

It’s definitely easier said than done. That’s a universal part of life though :)

I don’t believe that you don’t have a passion or purpose. You just need to find one. Remember – 1-2 years ago I was EXACTLY in your shoes, miserable, totally stuck in life, wasting my days away because I couldn’t find my fire again.

Check out some of the other guides I’ve written, like this one: http://milkthepigeon.com/2012/09/11/5-most-useful-tools-for-finding-your-work-in-life/

The important thing is to force yourself to try new things — I know you feel resistance in every direction. I know you have no energy or inner fire. Just test things out, as many things as possible, and one of them will lift your spirits a bit.

– Alex


Jini April 17, 2013 at 4:57 am

This burning question of “meaning of existence of our lives” also hit me since i was in 6th grade. It’s too early to be hit by that question, but it did take a troll on whole “life perception”. Now, at age of 21, i feel like i lost the meaning I found few years back… although I have been able to do most of the things I decided, I am in field I wanted to be in, have been through unexpected experiences….. but after all.. in the end.. it feels void… complete emptiness in doing that “meaningful” things as well. Everything is pretty well at its place, am working what I loved to do, have very supportive parents, true friends (whom I can count on as life long friends) , I engage myself in activities I love like anything…. to keep myself revitalize :every week-photography, painting, music, meeting new people, knowing world, psychology , reading hell lots of books and doing ( & actually experiencing life) far better than my peers..
then why most of the time this feeling of emptiness surrenders… even though i know what exactly i want to do?!


Alexander Heyne April 24, 2013 at 10:37 pm

Hey Jini —

You know what you want to do. That’s good. Are you doing it yet though? Sometimes people feel a little lost until they’re living it.

Maybe you just want deeper meaning.

You’re involved in activities you love – but what about meaningful activities. Some kind of project with a larger meaning, beyond just you?

For a smaller percentage of people, I think there is definitely a higher calling too. For example people who are called to philosophy, spirituality, religion, etc.

Does that help at all?

– – Alex


Zack Baker April 23, 2013 at 4:06 pm

I like this post allot , it’s very motivating nice work :) But do you not feel there is a risk that following your passion may result in failure. And if your fail in that what else really is there. And like sometimes your passion is just a bit out of reach right. For example say you were a standard kid with standards average grades , and you want to be an astronaut , that dream is not really gonna be possible with your mediocre grades , then what do you do ? You could continue to follow your dream where the chances are low all your life and you will probably not get there , or you settle for less. Its just really confusing right ?


Alexander Heyne April 24, 2013 at 10:24 pm

Hey Zack –

Emailed ya back ;)

— Alex


Alessia November 30, 2015 at 10:24 am

Hey Alex…

I’m actually asking myself the same questions like Zack. What if you have dreams but you’re simply not good enough? What if you try and fail greatly and end up where you started? I had this kind of experience this year and it crushed me totally. I was never really confident and now I’ve lost the last shred of confidence I might had left…

james smoth April 23, 2013 at 4:07 pm

hi what ius up


Dustin April 24, 2013 at 2:55 pm

I feel like you just saved me from 80 more years of suffering. I just wanted to thank you so much for this blog.


Alexander Heyne April 24, 2013 at 10:23 pm

Haha you’re welcome Dustin! Lemme know how else I can help.

— Alex


Stephanie April 24, 2013 at 11:11 pm

Thank you for sharing Alex. It really makes a difference. I will make sure to pay it forward.


Alexander Heyne April 25, 2013 at 5:31 pm

No problem, Stephanie :)


Matthew April 27, 2013 at 3:14 am

Thank you so much for typing this. I was feeling sort of suicidal… and it was scaring me. I felt like everything felt pointless. Then I read this and I feel so much better, I have to make a purpose for myself, I define my own purpose.

I’ve been with my long distance girlfriend for almost a year and this helped me realize that I want to eventually live with her, and have a family as we grow up… because I love her, and I want to raise two kids. It’s probably a long shot but I have hope.

Thanks again. You saved my life.


Alexander Heyne April 27, 2013 at 11:13 am

Matthew –

You’re welcome man! Shoot me an email if you ever have any questions or want to talk.

— Alex


loli May 5, 2013 at 9:18 pm

whenever I google on a life subject to read and inspire me i usually never end reading the articles because it seems super long and i can never finish them. my purpose in this message is to let you know that just the formation and the way you put this article is not awesome, its really extraordinary! God bless you..
p.s: i read the entire article and plan on reading on the other links you put.


Alexander Heyne May 7, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Hey Loli ,

That’s awesome, I hope they help! Email me if you have any questions.

– Alex


Psh May 5, 2013 at 10:27 pm

Life is meaningless. If any of this shit works for you it’s because you’re too stupid or credulous to keep your mind consistent. Life exists through and for breeders, the endless multiplication of zeros; if you’re not a nobody you will never have a place in existence.


Alexander Heyne May 7, 2013 at 3:21 pm

Hi there babylon catholic church,

Best of luck in life thinking that way.



Psh May 8, 2013 at 3:54 am

Go fuck yourself with your veiled condescension. It’s true, and if you don’t like it you can go die in a fire.

Kim-André May 19, 2013 at 1:02 am

Hi Alex,

I quit school after 10th grade to become a rapper. But after quitting school life continued to happen, I worked some apprentice jobs that gave me fractions of minimum wage and ended up quitting them and selling Cannabis/Hash for a living. I befriended people that had been living harsh lives on the streets and we eventually explored conspiracy theories and esoteric knowledge together that waked me up to the idea that everything I’ve thought of life might be a lie aswell as to the existence of the eternal spirit of life. Because of a higher understanding of money, the power elites of society and industry I became demotivated to puruse my aspirations within music, because I didn’t want to sell my soul. I didn’t want to make music for money, but to express. I’ve explored so many solutions to our problems on this planet and find it demotivating that a lot of people in power to do things knows about these solutions but don’t take action upon them because it isn’t within their own personal interest when it comes to short-term and direct profit, at least not to their knowledge. I see a pattern within our every-man-for-their-own-superficial-profit society and that is, if there’s something that needs to be done that don’t generate unrelated & personal profit, it won’t be done, whilst if you have enough money, you can make so much evil happen, because there seems to always be someone desperate or ignorant enough to fulfill your wishes if you just pay their price. Anyway, I’ve been unemployed for a year now and I’ve gotten in a rut. I’ve smoked DMT and eaten magic mushrooms and I realize the grand and ultimate emptiness of it all, not to say I haven’t had some incredible experiences of unconditional love, enlightenment, oneness and bliss. And the emptiness is so captivating… I know I can use it to my advantage but when I start feeling motivated I get scared. Because I know for a fact that everything I love can and will be taken away from me any moment. What if things start falling into place and I die? The lack of meaning comes back and I lose all motivation. I’ve realized I’m addicted to food and I think it is because it is a form of filling the void. I’ve tried fasting for a couple of days and I feel so much better in my body when I cease to eat. But then there’s all the emotional attachments to different foods and even non-foods like candy that just, is there, present within my consciousness, tempting me, suggesting to me to acquire and eat it. I’ve been a vegetarian for over 1.5 years now, I was a vegan for a year but lately I’ve dropped a bit out, ate a couple of vegetarian pizzas and some pastry with milk and eggs in them, not to talk about fried rice with eggs. I don’t have any reliable source of income so it’s hard to be on a diet. I want to go fruitarian as a transition into breatharianism. I always end up binging on unhealthy food. I sometimes get my hopes up that there is a reason for everything and that when I’ve accumulated enough experience of my self I will be able to control the illusion and create a paradise for my self, a type of heaven, nirvana, 5th dimension, call it whatever you want to. But as an eternal being, can any new experience of my self really add to All That Is? Perhaps this is my eternal nature? This is it. There is no ultimate purpose for everything. It isn’t hard to believe as purpose/meaning/reason is an idea/concept invented by our infinite soul. Existence came before reason. So existence (us) doesn’t need to justify ourselves. Not that justification is my reason for wanting there to be a purpose. Total freedom is my reason for wanting there to be a purpose. I want to be totally free to express exactly how I want and manifest life on my own terms, free from suffering, exploring myself in all ways I can imagine and be happy ever after. But maybe this isn’t what any of us truly want, and maybe it can never happen. We don’t know. Because it is thinkable that life is a school of contrast to get inspiration for the after-life. But it is also thinkable that when this body dies, so does the memories, desires, hopes, dreams and everything else associated with this lifetime – I experience the beginning and end/the light/oneness – reincarnate and it all goes on for infinity. I like what you wrote about that happiness and success isn’t static and might be an unintended by-product of finding temporary and ultimately illusory purpose, aswell as the idea of serving an idea of “something bigger than us.” I will make sure to keep it in mind in the days to come as I find my way to unconditional bliss. I’ve thought many times that life is the infinite opportunity to forget itself. To lose yourself in the moment. When you are all that is and you lose yourself, you truly become one with life, because after all, the sensible muchness of it all is ultimately nothing. When you become nothing you’re immortal, because – nothing lasts forever.

Thank you for sharing with us fellow selfling.



Troubled-One May 28, 2013 at 8:39 pm

Happiness is a mere distraction! Life really is meaningless. It doesn’t matter what you do with your life, it is still meaningless! You will be just as important 100 years from today as you were 100 years ago. You didn’t exist then and you will cease to exist in the future, nobody will remember you and nobody will care. Life really is meaningless!


Alexander Heyne May 31, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Hi “troubled-one,”

Yes, I don’t think life has inherent meaning. But that doesn’t mean it can’t become meaningful based on how you design it. That is untrue that “no matter what, it is still meaningless.” Sure, inherently, it is meaningless. But your own perception will transform and life will become highly meaningful.

I disagree – “nobody will remember you and nobody will care.” What about all the other people who have changed lives in the past? Well known people like Einstein, Ben Franklin, and unknown people like the millions of amazing parents and grandparents that change their childrens lives. They are remembered, and people do care.


themostdismal June 17, 2013 at 4:25 am

Those people will fade away as well and even the universe is falling apart . The problem isn’t the meaninglessness of life, instead the problem is that people keep deluding themselves that it isn’t and keep having kids. Life is just not a good thing.

Ross Campbell August 11, 2014 at 12:12 pm

and in that sense it isn’t a bad thing either. It just is.

Life has no meaning but that which we give it. If your goal was to change the education system (an example) and by the end of your lifetime you achieved that then you gave your life purpose and hopefully changed the life of many others for better or worse. That is all we can hope for. In the end it is still meaningless but it may have an effect and meaning on those who succeed us.

African Queen December 27, 2016 at 11:36 pm

I feel that the notion that life has no ‘inherent meaning’ is a matter of perception and interpretation rather than any insight conclusive in its consideration. The understanding that life is ‘inherently meaningless’ excuses atrocity and oppression- because after all it is ‘inherently meaningless’ so why value a life?

your thoughts, protestations and general clarification much welcomed.

fudgepacker June 2, 2013 at 2:39 pm

fluff, just like all the ‘how to be happy’ preachers.


Alexander Heyne June 7, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Hi “fudgepacker” (cute name btw),

Care to elaborate?



Robert June 15, 2013 at 5:47 am

I don’t have much to add or say about this, but I’d like to thank you for this enlightening read. It really connected with me.

My philosophy at the moment is to keep things simple, realistic and sober, and not to let ego or pride stand in the way of proper judgement. It works for me because it helps me keep my feet on the ground, and the pain of failure I get feels natural and something to learn from. So that when I fail, the pain has meaning and feels educational and I’m able to let it all in, to promote some sort of growth. Emotions I have serve purpose and are therefore a fundament for me to build upon.

I have a feeling this might be strange to read, if so, sorry about that, I don’t write a lot and english isn’t my first language(well, technically it is, but I digress).


Alexander Heyne June 17, 2013 at 2:48 pm

No problem Robert!


Rob June 24, 2013 at 8:02 am

Life is life. You are born, you live for awhile, then you die. Nothing more nothing less. Writing up a feel good speech for those poor F**kers out there by giving them false hope is wrong. Life is sh*t regardless people deal with it. And you are just a kid! Should be writing this crap when you are 40 and have gone through full life experiences. The idiosyncrasies of life still amaze me and you are one them. Hold a gun in your mouth then contemplate life and see where it gets you. If your brains are not splattered across the wall by end of it, then you have found some pathetic reason to live or trying to hold on to some notion that our lives are intrinsically inclusive of something relevant- which it is not.


Alexander Heyne June 25, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Hi Rob,

“Nothing more, nothing less.” Well, actually a lot more. Yes, life overly simplified, is birth, life, death. But in the middle people build businesses, change lives, travel the world, have kids, write stories, read stories, and do many many other things.

Life is “shit” ? Please tell me how this is an objective fact.

Do I really need to be 40 to write this? I don’t think so. Because I went through the process of feeling that my life was meaningless, and I got through it. I’m no longer there, but I know many people that are. I figured I would write this for them.

Hope that answers your concerns,

– Alex


laura July 19, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Thanks for being so honest and sharing your suggestions… please explain how you decide on an answer to your solution-questions. I am having a hard time getting behind an answer that is arbitrarily generated… very afraid of making the wrong decision. It seems like it could get even worse, if I find a purpose and it fails on me, even though I guess what your saying is that it inevitably will, because it keeps changing. It has been too long since I was living for a purpose, and I even have lost “my story” since who I thought I was, I outgrew. I eagerly await your response, and in the meanwhile, I am going to read the articles you inserted for further reflection, and do some laundry.


Alexander Heyne July 19, 2013 at 9:56 pm

Hi Laura,

Our story always changes, depending on where we are, what we’re doing, how old we are, and who we’re with. The only thing you can do in life is have faith that the pieces will connect in the end – obviously you can’t see that in advance, you’ll only be able to see it in retrospect. Why not take on a new purpose, see if it “clicks” and take it from there?



laura July 19, 2013 at 1:23 pm

I read that you said to just do things that I actually enjoy, but I guess it is hard to enjoy things because I know that they are not going to last. I am realizing that I have a lot of anxiety over impermanence because I know what it feels like to get stuck – for a long time – between feeling an authentic sense of satisfaction from one thing, and another. I have been stuck in the gap for a long time, I am in the gap, now, and I am too terrified about ending back in the gap, to reach for something new, and have it end…. guess I have actually become very used to being in the gap, and though I hate it, I have made myself believe that “my story” is being in the gap. It’s like everyday feels like a situation where I have to work myself out of this fear, only to wake up to it, anew, each day…. like a hellish version of the movie “Groundhog Day”.


laura July 19, 2013 at 2:03 pm

…it’s like things loose their flavor very quickly, for me. I know how horribly ungrateful that is, of me… but it is like I have this compulsive fear of things being impermanent, which is what contributes to them not lasting… I think you would say that this is because I am not in the “flow”, which I would agree with…. like I am in a static situation, and I have short bouts of flow and long gaps, in between. I too quickly begin to think, and loose my state of being unaware of the fact that I am not content. I think you are right, that I am mostly discontent when I am thinking. It is very hard to find distractions from thinking… usually these things come to their wonderful end within an hour, tops, or they can turn sour, if you overdo it… like how I started to hate the smell of coffee, which I normally love, because I had to make it all day, because it was my job, to do so, at one point. I have been labeled with ADHD, but I think it is more than that, to blame. I think it is also because I feel like it would be selfish or impossible to be in the “flow”, all the time… irresponsible… since my main job is taking care of children and animals and a house. I am often envious of my children, because they are free to follow their wants… it makes me so annoyed when they say they are bored, because they have the freedom to seek what they are curious about so much of the time, and they waste it…. meanwhile, I am just managing lots of stupid ‘stuff’, and watching them find the flow… trapped in all the stupid ‘stuff’ that makes up the life of a stay at home mother… if I followed my bliss, I think I might forget to feed them, or just wander away. How do you find the flow when you have no option to change your routine? I feel like a terrible person for not finding joy in watching the people I love find their joy. I feel very selfish, cowardly, and jealous. At least I am being honest… I want the real thing… no point lying about it… not trying to fool myself.


Alexander Heyne July 20, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Hi Laura,

Yeah you’re absolutely right, you can’t just go about and follow your bliss. If we were animals and could eat, sleep, have sex, go to the bathroom when/where we wanted, it would be easy. Obvious we’re not, and we can’t. Especially if we have families to worries about or kids to take care of.

It’s very difficult to be in flow all the time. I agree we can’t usually have that luxury.

In work… how can you find flow? Based on what you said I take it you’re a stay at home mom? I would definitely suggest ordering the book “flow” – it’ll help you figure out how to find it at work.

But what’s preventing you from enjoying the time with the kids – helping them grow and learn, rather than being envious of their ability to wander freely? It sounds like this is a sign of a deeper discontent in your life.

If you can’t change your routine, find flow in the routine, or create the kind of personality that naturally enters flow (again the book goes into this).

Are you watching the kids the entire day, or is there a way that you could have someone watch them for a portion while you engage in activities you like?


laura July 19, 2013 at 2:13 pm

Life is just “sum”… it is everything. Paradoxical meaning… it is what it isn’t, and it isn’t what it is…. sometimes the water goes up, and sometimes the water goes down. It goes every-which-way, whenever, and you just have to go with it, or you drown… you must be able to stay in the flow whatever way it goes… you have to stay flexible… at least we can enjoy being unaware when we are not thinking… if we never thought, we would not really be able to experience and know what it is to be unaware – (and happy)… right?


Alexander Heyne July 20, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Hey Laura,

Your writing sounds pretty Taoist-y. I agree that life just “is” – it’s neither good nor bad, it’s just… life.

I think awareness and unawareness are sometimes irrelevant. Thinking often impedes the flow of life though. Sometimes I wonder if I became so unhappy for a year just because I was thinking a lot and not doing enough.

– Alex


laura July 19, 2013 at 2:19 pm

I think some people need a lot of exercise to wear them out, and some people need thoughts to chew on, similarly, to wear out their brains… when you don’t get enough mental exercise, it is hard to wear out your brain, and it is even hard to go to sleep… and it is hard for me to stop pondering to the point that everything seems pointless… I feel like we just have to take what we get, and not through a fit… going with the flow… or do we get to have a creative part in making the flow? I almost want to believe that is not true, because it would seem like I am missing out on that, currently, no pun intended. (which just does not seem very fair). I guess I am throwing a fit.


Alexander Heyne July 20, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Hi Laura,

I think we absolutely have a large part in cultivating flow. In fact the entire book FLOW is about how to cultivate it. If it interests you, check the book out here: http://www.amazon.com/Flow-The-Psychology-Optimal-Experience/dp/0061339202/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1374341562&sr=8-1&keywords=flow


laura July 19, 2013 at 2:30 pm

You are a good person, for wanting to help others find meaning… if everyone really believed everything they wrote here, they would not need to be searching for answers, and they wouldn’t have found themselves, here. The fact that people are searching is a reason for optimism.


Alexander Heyne July 19, 2013 at 9:51 pm

It’s what I’m here to do Laura !

– Alex


Max July 26, 2013 at 10:53 pm

When i stumble upon this article i thought it just another shitty article about telling you how to live your life but fortunately it was not. I must say i was impressed with this because these are actually only guidelines (very helpfull); because a man can only find “WHY” on his own, others can only show him a path but he alone must walk it. The reason why i am writing this because i still have not find my own “why”. I am 21 and currently i am on third year of philosophy and history on college. I read a tons of books with great variety of themes, watched a thousand of movies and tv shows but the problem lies in myself, i just cant find the purpose to anything; i am not suicidal like most people in world because i see no purpose in it too; we are all going to die anyway sooner or later. Human nature is destructive one and it cannot be changed, in history civilizations rise and fall and every empire is built upon blood and death of millions. And so is today. People dont change its just an illusion; its like “The more things change, the more they stay the same”. People lived miserable like forever and its just sad. Also i liked the part about daily routines; i mean its just killing me, every day is almost the same. I am trying to find my purpose since i was 15 and no matter what i do i just cant seem to find it. I am actually satisfied with my past 21 years of life and i dont regret much but right now with each passing day i am feeling worse and worse. I have everything a man can actually want in life but still i want something different something more (not materialistic) more in a sense of doing something amazing for myself. Well hope i find it one day before i die.
Bye the way, great article. I think you really helped a lot of people.


Alexander Heyne July 28, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Hi Max,

I think “looking for purpose” vanishes once you start doing things you like.

When you have a job that deeply puts you in flow, when you have hobbies that you love and keep you focused, and when your relationships are meaningful and enjoyable… life just makes sense.

I often encourage people to “give” life a purpose. I think this is the point of religion. An artificial means of giving life meaning. But if you ask me, there’s an easier way – try to find flow in as many moments of life as you can. It’s the way to inherently turn off the brain and enjoy life. People that are in flow rarely are busy thinking about the ultimate meaning of life.



Francesca August 1, 2013 at 4:07 am

This is actually mind blowing. I thought I was a boring person who was just existing. I’m so relieved to know that other people know and feel exactly the same way as I do. I’m 21yrs old and felt empty with no direction because I simply had no passions/goals in other words no structure. I thought I was going nuts at one point! X


Alexander Heyne August 2, 2013 at 9:11 am

Francesca, you are definitely not the only one feeling this way. Just look at the amount of comments here!


Jon de olefarte August 21, 2013 at 3:16 am

I am 48 freaking years old. I do not take advice from a twenty something (even a wise one) ever. I am sorry I ever stopped by here. Gbye.


Alexander Heyne August 21, 2013 at 9:30 am


Age is not always directly related to life experience or wisdom. I know many 48 year olds with far less life experience than some 25 year olds.

Thanks for stopping by.



Bogdan January 3, 2015 at 9:55 am

Actually you should take these older guys more serious.
“I know many 48 year olds with far less life experience than some 25 year olds.” – No, you don’t. Time is time.

This addolescent bullshit that you may have gone trough and now think you are on the right path… it’s stuff all addolescents go trough. I thought about jumping from many tall building when I though life is meaningless… at 15-17 years old. After 20, stuff got better. I don’t actually understand why some have existence problems at that age. 20-30 is the greatest moment to live the moment. Was maybe the best period of my life. Met my wife, bought 1st car, job going good and I enjoyed my work having a meaning.
After 30, the shit changes. You dont know about that, because you are not 30 and no matter how many books you read and how much shit you have don, it just not yet the time for you. Job falls behind in meaning, you need more than a paycheck, bonuses and the satisfaction you get there to be happy in life, unless your job is your life.
People always have this fallback purpose: kids. Kids are the reason why suicide rates are not 10x. Many, if they don’t find anything better as purpose in life, find purpose in rising their kids and see them well. Endure shit jobs, shit friends, shit everything for their kids. It’s a shitty selfish thing to make kids to fulfill you own purpose, but people do it. We are not like other animals, to breed for race existence reasons. We think. We have reason of mind and will (but this is another discussion).
Kids become center of their Univers and parents don’t think about the all other stuff.
For the rest, time is passing by and the become restless, questions rise… “what is the purpose of all this? i passed 30 and where am I going”. And shit gets even more serious when closing 40. This is why these older guys tell you you haven’t experienced enough to be able to talk about it at just 25-27.
Sometimes I can only think of the shitty part of life… having family or loved ones die on you, dealing with parents’ senior years, all seems going to hell… and you ask yourself where the damn joy and happines of all this when it all end in tears for you or your loved ones?
What’s the purpose of all this?

Bogdan January 3, 2015 at 10:10 am

When you are 20-30, setting small goals to distract yourself for thinking about life purpose is acceptable and has some effect.
When you are older, stuff like learning a new language or starting a business sometimes die in infancy if you are already in a “dark” place. You need something more consistent.
I’ve been living the moment for 32 years and half a year ago an apparently meaningless even turned a switch into my head and everything was over. For 2 weeks I was a damn zombie, almost got into depression, did eat almost nothing, dropped 5-6 kg… Managed to avoid getting actually ill of depression but I am still having trouble sailing between living the moment on a meaningless life or finding a purpose to fight for, despite all the shit you find in life. And I am not talking about learning a new language. And can’t have a kid…

anthony etherton September 2, 2013 at 1:21 am

Life just is…

Life IS meaningless, until we create a meaning for it. Life is just a beating heart, a brain and all the other organic stuff our ‘vehicle’ needs so it can transport our consciousness around the planet.

It’s the individual who must create there own purpose and carve out a life for their self.

Of course there’s a choice to be made, but before that choice or choices can be made, the indivudual has to be ‘awake’ to make them.

So I would offer that, in part, it’s the job of those who are ‘awake’ to wake up as many others as they can.



Alexander Heyne September 2, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Hey Anthony,

Totally agree. Life inherently has no meaning. Whatever meaning we find is whatever we give to life.


Anthony etherton September 2, 2013 at 3:28 pm

The scary yet wonderful thing is that it took me to the ripe old age of 50 before I woke up, but there seems to be many much younger people, yourself included, who seem to be ‘awake’ in the world and that’s brilliant!


Anthony jr September 4, 2013 at 9:05 pm

I came upon this site by accident, however I really enjoyed the different perspectives on life and its meaning or lack of according to some. I for one think life can be interesting, fun provocative and adventurous all dependent on your sate of mind of course. Its easy to get lost in just living life without purpose. Somehow people who don’t have the freedoms and basic luxuries we enjoy here in the USA have a better capacity for understanding this, when someone says that life is meaningless, I believe they have just stopped being grate full for being alive and healthy . Lets look at it this way I have a brother that was born with epilepsy, and starting having seizures since the age of 5 so he takes 3 different kinds of medications just to control his condition, when he takes his meds they make him sleepy for a couple of hrs. He misses out on a lot of stuff because of this. He tried to be self sufficient and tried going to college , however the stress was to much started triggering more seizures so he had to quit. Of course their are worse conditions others are born with or encounter in their lives, so it kind of bums me out when people complain about life and the lack of meaning they experience, wake up and smell the coffee! and stop being so selfish build something , help someone, inspire others with your life, it isn’t just about money, careers, and your ego, its about letting go, and following your dreams in spite of failures and shortcomings, and most importantly its about others more than you realize, not for the sake of being remembered 100 yrs., from now. And for those that already have everything they ever wanted and are still unhappy, heed this advice, learn to appreciate the small things in life, the laugh of a child, a stupid joke, a sunny day or an autumn afternoon. These and many other of life experiences are the things that no matter how fleeting they may seem, should make your life worth while. So its really up to you and the chances you take and breaks you get, along with some careful planning, that will determine if life is a worthy journey or if you will decide to give in to pessimism, guilt, and self-pity. Give life a chance to broaden your horizons, give your self the opportunity to live fully. cherish, love, and encourage others to do the same. Above all, even though you think you have all the answers and life is void of meaning to you, don’t bring others down to your level. Good luck !


Alexander Heyne September 11, 2013 at 9:54 am

Hi Anthony,

I don’t claim to have all the answers.

But in my observation, life doesn’t have meaning, but that doesn’t mean it has to be meaningless. There are many ways to give life meaning. Religion is one attempt at that.

– Alex


Matt Smith September 14, 2013 at 9:57 pm

been wondering this my entire life, I would not underestimate what Frued was saying, Happiness is a quest for pleasure, and if he elaborated, he probably would have said that if finding purpose in your life is a pleasure, then
that be it.
Im sure that some would argue, that their
“purpose” was raising 13 children, but by the 5th one it was a chore. So as we evolve, it may be actually in whatever you do just finding pleasure in whatever your doing is the key. And then being able to plan your life out to get some pleasure, whether that be a purpose you have found or just getting laid for once? Anyway you look at it, I don’t think living things are meant to be happy constantly anyway, some of the darkest days of my life, end up changing me, or I have to change something that ends up being more of an enjoyment, but just making it through one more day perhaps find some purpose or just watch a sunset, may be the “pleasure” we all are looking for? My thought.


Anand September 15, 2013 at 12:49 am

You are 100% correct!!! HOWEVER, what you are essentially saying is that Life is about Passing Time. The key to life is to distract yourself from it’s meaninglessness, i.e. find a way to pass the time until you die. While I agree with you, that is also a sad truth about life.


Alexander Heyne September 28, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Hey Anand,

I don’t think life is about distraction. If you view life as meaningless, it becomes that. If you view everything as meaningful, it will become that too.


anthony etherton September 29, 2013 at 7:21 am

My lovely, ironic, funny, intuitive father died this week, he was 83 and had a series of illnesses, any one of which could have taken him at any time and last Thursday one of them did. It was in his sleep fortunately so he had as peaceful an end as we, and I guess he, could have hoped for.

In his passing he reminded me about the fragility and transient nature of what we call life.

On the morning of his passing he was alert and actually asked for a roast dinner. We drank tea and talked and when I left that morning he was tired but conscious and as alert as you could expect a sick 83 year old to be.

At 5pm I got a call from my brother to say he’d died, gone in his sleep… and just lke that, he traded in his old body for the only things he, and all of us are destined to leave behind us… the memories and feelings he created in others through living his life everyday.

One minute here, the next second gone.

It reminds me to consciously create life, such as it is, in every moment we breathe, because no one gets out alive and while you’re around you always have a choice to go one way or another, no matter how small that choice might appear to be.

Thanks for you final lesson dad.

Big hug

I love you x

Ander September 20, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Somehow I knew this was leading up to a sales pitch of some kind.


Alexander Heyne September 21, 2013 at 11:33 am

Hi Ander,

What do you mean? I actually don’t have anything for sale haha.


Vanessa September 20, 2013 at 7:50 pm

This article really struck a chord within me.
As far back as I can remember I have wanted to lose weight. I have had successes and gained it all back. Many lessons learnt Yes! But the life purpose of losing weight still stays stronger than ever. Like I was telling a friend a few days back, If I do lose the extra weight and achieve a perfect figure, there will be nothing left to do in life. :) I shudder to think of not having that purpose.

I am thankful to god for everything he has given me. Relatively good health (inspite of the few extra pounds), good family, dinner on the table, roof over my head. Yet, sometimes when I think of friends who are still single, I often wonder how nice it must feel to wait….keep looking for the ‘Mr Right.’ In their shoes, it must be frustrating, eating away at their self-esteem, questioning their own desirability. Still, they have a purpose.

For me, if not for wanting to lose weight, my life had no purpose.

End rant.


elizabethe May 9, 2014 at 9:53 am

That is a very interesting take, Vanessa.


Sheng October 7, 2013 at 10:32 pm

Hi, I enjoyed reading you post thank you for that. But I have questions though, if there is no point but the point that you put to it, doesn’t that mean even the purpose that you have given yourself is pointless anyway? And if so, what is the point of making that statement at all.

So if based on your logic, that each person gives themselves a purpose that is fluid and changing, nothing then should be objectively good until you put a purpose to it? So if a terrorist finding purpose in killing thousands of people should he be credited for doing so? Or if a child abuser finds that he needs to hit the hell out of a kid to teach respect, should he also be credited for doing so as well? I know that these don’t sit well anybody, so doesn’t that mean that there is a good that is above and beyond what we create from within? suggesting then that there is a purpose to doing good in and of itself.

I’m not trying to be offensive but sincerely wondering what’s the purpose at all in the bigger scheme of things.


Alexander Heyne October 24, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Hi Sheng,

I think you might be thinking too much – no, the purpose you give to life creates purpose. Just like how you can have an AMAZING job but in your head think it SUCKS – and then it becomes a terrible job. Our thoughts and perceptions often dictate our reality.


hello October 9, 2013 at 10:02 pm

The meaning of life is death.

Good day to you sir. :)


Kashif Ansari October 16, 2013 at 12:49 pm

life is nothing. it is lives as lived per second and minute and hour and day and month and year and lifetime that i am concerned with. for they all count. there is no particular meaning to life or the universe. it is all just flow and the great unconsciousness of nature in one big drive that is blind and very messy. yet the smallest insect has all the organs that a larger organism has. imagine even the smallest amoeba has all that it needs to function as a viable lifelike organism. so what to say of man. yet man is nature’s biggest blunder. well if he is a blunder than so much the worse for that bitch names mother nature. man will do what he wants and he will take the help of all his faculties such as instinct and intelligence and intuition and some iniquity too. life is found in the here and now. the moment of surprise like a child yelling out shrieks of wild delight upon seeing a caged parrot. a child wants to bother flies instead of letting flies bother it. an adult is sick and tired of flies hovering around him. i think you can see the difference in energy levels between the two. you get my point.


Fluffy October 18, 2013 at 6:50 am

Hey Alex,

Thanks for the article. I just wondered what you think about the feeling of conflict between what you get ‘flow’ from doing and it’s higher purpose? I’ve always enjoyed drawing, design, photography etc and trying to create a career in an industry where I could use some of these skills but sometimes when I think about it artistic pursuits don’t really seem to help people in a tangible way that say a doctor or charity aid worker may do? Some one I knew once made a comment that actors only entertained people and I guess it got to me and made me feel a little sad that maybe artistic pursuits aren’t very meaningful or purposeful in the grand scheme of life.
What if you have dissonance between the things you enjoy to do and their meaning? Would be interested to hear some thoughts.


Alexander Heyne October 23, 2013 at 12:16 am

Hi Fluffy,

The truth is that you need to MAKE those things tangible. The artists that truly survive (or thrive) are the ones that learn business skills. Learn how to put a price on your art, market it, and sell it, and you will thrive like any other person. The core problem is trying to communicate the VALUE of your art. Once you can do that (show someone else how it’ll change their life) you can charge a lot.

Of course your art changes lives – you just need to explain to people (Sell them) on how it does.


Knowwhatiwant October 26, 2013 at 7:12 pm

Hi Alex,
Great post. Thanks for sharing. My problem is that I have a goal-or I thought I did. But it’s probably the one goal you can’t do much about in life. Since I can remember, I have wanted nothing more than to be a wife and mother. I’ve always love children and I never feel more myself than when I’m in a relationship and able to share deeper parts of myself and share life physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc. with another. As you can imagine, when a relationship I’m in ends, I’m devastated. Each relationship brings the hope that “this is it.” I will finally start my “real” life.
I’m 30 now. Of course I thought finding a husband would’ve happened by now. I thought lowering my standards, being more open to men I might not have previously considered would help me find the person I’d spend my life and raise children with. I know this sounds like a desperate female who believed every Disney movie I ever saw.
I have great career that allows me to be self sufficient and utilize the analytical and creative sides of my brain. I’m generally happy when I’m alone…but not when I’m lonely. I feel like I’ve done everything I’m “supposed” to do in life. I’ve set goals, I’ve reached them. I’ve set new goals and reached those. I’ve discovered things I didn’t know I wanted. But there is always a hole. I know without a doubt that a family is something that will give my life true meaning. I have literally thought of my future family every day since I was a small child. It’s odd to think how young I was when I would think about having a family-a five year old should be thinking about what she wants for Christmas, not the toys she’ll buy HER children.
So how do I 1- find meaning when I feel like I know my purpose but “can’t” achieve it yet? 2-what do you do when your life goal is mostly out of your hands. I can “put myself out there,” I can be social, date online, etc. (have done all of the above) but meeting the right man is not something I can put a date on. 3-what if I don’t realize this goal? Then life is pretty pointless. And it’s feeling more and more like that each day.
I appreciate any thoughts you have.


Alexander Heyne December 16, 2013 at 11:59 am

Hi there,

Let me start with a basic question: why do you feel like you need a man to make your life complete?


Matt007 October 29, 2013 at 2:50 pm

The BEST and in my view, most accurate part of what you have said is:
” Alexander Heyne July 28, 2013 at 1:04 pm
Hi Max,

I think “looking for purpose” vanishes once you start doing things you like.

When you have a job that deeply puts you in flow, when you have hobbies that you love and keep you focused, and when your relationships are meaningful and enjoyable… life just makes sense.

I often encourage people to “give” life a purpose. I think this is the point of religion. An artificial means of giving life meaning. But if you ask me, there’s an easier way – try to find flow in as many moments of life as you can. It’s the way to inherently turn off the brain and enjoy life. People that are in flow rarely are busy thinking about the ultimate meaning of life.


And here’s the paradox: when you are in flow or have found your niche/zest for life – the mind sees one reality. One that makes you FEEL better and kind of distracts the mind. And yet it is considered distorted thinking if you realize its all: birth; ageing; illness; death… In my view everything is about sex and survival – and the rest exists to create the illusion of meaning. Of course, it is better to have a perceived meaning than no meaning; but ultimately they are one of the same thing. And life is a cruel ‘entity’ as it teases – and ultimately takes ALL… It’s that simple and not an over-simplification.

If complication is sought, study evolutionary psychology that shows that behaviour as well as physical facets are evolved. And that sexual as well as natural selection shapes the physical and the behavioural (though the sexual selection aspect is 2 sides of the same coin and another stealth means of complying to ‘survival of the fittest’)…. The understanding of this; and reductionism merely adds weight to the meaninglessness argument.

As does ‘survival of the luckiest’ ie God’s Dice ie shit happens and God krept out the back door. So not only is there no ultimate meaning; there are nasty land mines thrown in the mix too…

Whilst your prescription is kind of the only viable antidote to obsessing on the lack of true meaning; it doesnt negate the impact of the REAL NEWS ie we can win the battle; but nobody wins the war!!

As this FACT becomes somewhat impotent when perceived meaning displaces thoughts of meaningless… Man’s (and women’s) search must go on…
Best wishes.


Azman November 13, 2013 at 9:56 pm

Awesome. The way you explain … spot on.


Jack November 26, 2013 at 11:17 am

What if my core beliefs say that what we do on this planet doesn’t matter. That’s what I truly believe. So where is there purpose then? The purpose of life is to express life. So living is the purpose. You can do whatever you want beyond that. Just understand other people will do what they want, and you may not always see eye to eye.


Nev November 26, 2013 at 11:26 pm

But what if I’ve taken “Life is meaningless” to the next level?
Any purpose one gives to one’s life is also, in essence, meaningless. There is no objective meaning and one’s subjective tack-on meaning is made up and ethereal.
My own happiness is meaningless so why go on?


Alexander Heyne December 2, 2013 at 7:17 pm


Life is always ethereal. But you’ve got it all backwards. Rather than being meaningless, every single moment is INCREDIBLY precious because every single day time is ticking down.

There are no ordinary moments. When you live your life like that, everything changes overnight.

– Alex


gridsleep December 21, 2013 at 4:22 pm

While there are absolutes–life, death, and what to do about them–emotion which is the guide for each life is completely arbitrary. There is no absolute happiness. “Just pick something.” “That’s it?” “That’s all there is.” “Then, again, what’s the point?” You see, to live or to die are absolute events. Why to live or to die are just picked from a hat. The problem is, if nothing gives a sense of happiness or accomplishment, then there is truly no point in being alive. Existing for the sake of existing. Which is the true absolute reality. There is only mass and energy and all the patterns of it, all temporary, all interchangeable, all part of one great pattern. All just what it is. In the end it doesn’t matter whether you pick something or not. Pick whatever makes you happy or might and find out if it does. If nothing makes you happy, well, you’re just out of luck. There are no guarantees.


Beholder'sEye January 2, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Great posts and very insightfull. My thoughts on the meaning of life are these. I agree life has no inherent purpose, it’s just void of it as it is. The very fact that we are born purposeless tells me that. Was there a purpose in our conception? Did our parents had a purpose when they created us? I dont think so. It was all a byproduct of a passing disconected distraction. In order to give life a purpose and therefore a meaning aka a distraction, we (1) must inmerse ourselves in passing disconected flowing distractions or activities that will temporarily take us off of the reality of life’s emptiness, therefore we wont feel the passing of life in those moments. That’s what most people do or try to do some more sucessfully than others. Passing fleeting flowing distractions like hobbies, drugs, money, travelling, children, working, relationships they are all distractions that could give your life a momentary purpose and a meaning to some or lesser extent and help you carry on. The extent in time, satisfaction, to which they get you in the flow and distract you from life depends on how much they really have to do with who you are as a person. You can either do that or (2) you can start connecting these distractions and align them with who you really are and what your heart tells you you should be or become. Then the result is an ongoing ever flowing distraction that it will feel like your life is this never ending flow of experiences that gratify you tremendously every step of the way and make you feel like there is an enduring purpose and a meaning to your life. It is in my opinion the ultimate distraction cause it gets to a point where it becomes your life’s journey. When that stage is reached you become emotionally numbed to the passage of time, every moment it’s a joy, now you have a purpose and a meaning to your existence. That’s what I should do in this life and nothing else. You set a path in that direction with a smile on your face and the journey to that end becomes your purpose and meaning even more than your ultimate goal cause at the end of your life wether you reached your goals or not you will leave this world happy and comptented that you lived your life purposefully and gave everything you could to reach that thing not that you were sent here to do but rather your heart, your guts, you intuition, your whole self screaming set yourself to do. Now lets us all find that path!


Pooja @ On Books! January 5, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Exactly what I wanted. At just the right time. Thank you :)


Daniel January 6, 2014 at 4:30 am

This is the best blog post I’ve ever read.


Alexander Heyne January 6, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Haha, thanks Daniel.


Swarup Mondal January 12, 2014 at 3:15 am

Thank You, Sir. LOTS OF RESPECT. :-)


Alexander Heyne January 22, 2014 at 12:59 pm

You’re welcome Swarup :)


Anonymous January 14, 2014 at 6:24 pm

My partner has no purpose and he’s perfectly happy.

I had a purpose, a really good, worthwhile purpose, of bettering humanity and the web of life, but I’m still unhappy.

He puts in zero effort to be happy, whereas I’ve sacrificed a great deal of physical comfort throughout life to achieve my “purpose”, my “why”, only to suddenly realize that we’re all going to die anyway and it really doesn’t matter.

I’m still trying to figure out why he thinks his existence is the shit. It’s not that I don’t value mine in particular. I just can’t see why I should value anything or anyone at all, him or me or our kids or anything.

I’m in my late 30s and I’ve felt like this for most of my life, except for 10 years during which I converted to Christianity. During that time, I wasted a great deal of talent and hope on jack. I was never a fundamentalist but I believed very much in helping others, love, and assorted lies. Now I’m neither enlightened NOR rich.

I welcome any tips for achieving a stable detachment, happiness, inner peace, whatever. An end to the relentless question of why and whether I am doing well enough or could do better and the pain. Either the answer or just a way to stop asking it without leading to suicidal thoughts, as I have two small children and I probably should not kill myself, just in case it’s not all a dream and my death would cause them to suffer. Of course my existence causes suffering to others, given limited resources on the planet, so it’s not like I can be happy about it.

In case you think that is enough reason to stop the “why”, it is not, because that line of thinking just mucks you up and leads you to question why you care about your children in the first place, which let me tell you is not a good place to be. I can accept that I’m not supposed to have thoughts like that.

What I don’t understand is how I am supposed to avoid them since it seems like a logical place to go.

I should point out that I have a technically good job which most people would like to have, that I have traveled, that I have hobbies which I’m supposed to enjoy, etc. But none of these succeeds in curing pain or distress. Nothing erases the “why” from my mind, and nothing erases the knowledge of suffering of others from my mind. And when I do cut myself off from others, that doesn’t save me any trouble as it’s quite difficult to live without thinking at all of others, and I can’t just turn it off and on like that.


Alexander Heyne January 22, 2014 at 12:59 pm


“whereas I’ve sacrificed a great deal of physical comfort throughout life to achieve my “purpose”, my “why”, only to suddenly realize that we’re all going to die anyway and it really doesn’t matter.”

Couldn’t disagree more, and (if it makes you feel better) there is no logic to this statement. Yes, it does matter. It matters because it makes you feel unhappy today. And tomorrow. And the next day. All those days matter.

You mean “why” – as in , why are you here, what are you here to do?

In my opinion and experience – meditating for a long time – many people get it all backwards.

Many people think “there is no purpose” thus every day doesn’t matter and there’s no point. This is, in fact, the exact opposite of what the sages of have told us for thousands of years. And proof that this is wrong – it makes you and I feel miserable. Like there’s no point in living. I would hardly say that’s a worthwhile, evolved, spiritual belief or practice.

What the sages have hinted at for so long is this: “There are no ordinary moments.” Every day of life is deeply special, and once you treat it that way, life becomes a treasure. Not something you want to rush through or just end today.

“I had a purpose, a really good, worthwhile purpose, of bettering humanity and the web of life, but I’m still unhappy.”

Start from here. What happened? Why wasn’t it making you happy?


Anonymous January 22, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Hi Alexander.

Nothing is making me unhappy. There is no reason, objectively, to be happy or unhappy. I feel like I just pulled an unhappy card. I’m not as miserable as a leper in a slum, I’m not as rich as the son of a millionaire. I’m not as healthy as some, but I’m healthier than most my age.

What is making me unhappy? I just don’t really enjoy very much of my life. My job is theoretically meaningful, but like 99.9% of jobs, obviously much of it revolves around doing things that are not recreation. Even an artist spends a great deal of her day looking for galleries and making money to survive. It’s work. Mostly I spend the entire day mentally planning for how I am not going to get upset when my kids come home and start yelling at me. No matter what I do, they always seem to find a reason to complain, even if I ignore the complaints and try my best to head them off with positivity. I think they can sense that I dread their presence, but quiet tolerance is about all I can muster after 7 straight years of their mission to destroy my morale so that I will lie on the couch with my eyes closed while they consume everything in the fridge (please, let someone else here have real kids and know what I am talking about). Or whatever they want to do. That is kids. That is life. I shouldn’t mind. I should enjoy cleaning up throw-up, being screamed at, watching my kid sit there and not do homework. One smile, even if it’s because she just smacked her sister, is supposed to make it “all worth it”. Yeah, right.

““There are no ordinary moments.” Every day of life is deeply special, and once you treat it that way, life becomes a treasure. Not something you want to rush through or just end today.”

Great idea. I tried saying that to myself for six weeks. As I get cut off in traffic: “There are no ordinary moments.” As a car stops in front of me at a green light without using the turn signal: “Every moment is precious.” As I pay my credit card bill, used to pay for a divorce from an abusive relationship, which I got into in part because I was in denial that anyone could be that much of a jerk: “Life is a gift.” As I tell my older daughter not to suffocate my younger daughter: “Isn’t this what life is all about?” As my step-kids refuse to eat the food I make, even if others have said that recipe is really good and my partner insists it is: “EVERY MOMENT IS PRECIOUS.” As I clean the house. As my boss tells me my spreadsheet takes up too much room and *simultaneously contains too little information* even though it’s *all numbers she specifically requested, by column, in the font size she chose*: “Life is a gift.”

Yeah. Okay. Maybe when my kids graduate high school and I get a job teaching yoga on the beach or something. For the time being, life is at best tolerable, and then only because I know how bad some others have it. I get occasional stress-related back pain. I interpret this as the universe telling me to get out of the way.

Oh, I know. I’ve got to change my attitude.

My question is, why? What’s the point? Why change my attitude when it does nothing to change the reality of the situation? I am still going to get yelled at by my kids. I am still going to make sandwiches that nobody eats even though I prepare them according to specific instructions and they get to do the shopping. I am still going to sit at my desk with a backache. I am still going to re-write the report 500 times, adjusting the margins. I am still going to say “I love you” when they go to bed only to have my kids answer, “But mom”, before I hiss, “We said we wouldn’t argue tonight! I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU! No arguing! Happy bedtime! I LOVE YOU!!!!!” and they answer again, “But mom I have to keep talking… I’m not tired and I don’t want to go to bed.” Me: “Just lay there quietly and think of happy thoughts. No arguing. I LOVE YOU.” Child: Says something else. I walk away. Child leaves room screaming/whining. (Note: We have already spent agonizing hours over bedtimes, biological needs for sleep, and you will have to believe me that I have paid for, gone through, and burned in anger every sleep therapy book there is for children, except Go the Fuck to Sleep, which, although amusing, would be inappropriate to have around children who can already read. Also, if you aren’t a parent, you should know they look down on locking your kids in rooms, with the exception of a safe room, for very short periods of time, and certainly not overnight, for autistic children and such. But even then, you get judged. Not an option. I looked into it.)

I never should have had children. I never should have gone beyond the age of 13 when I first started having suicidal thoughts, but I believed those who said that if i got lost in the flow of serving others and being part of the web of life, I could achieve happiness and this sadness would go.

What a load of crap that was. And now, worse, I’m in debt and have kids and am still sad. I did EVERYTHING that was supposed to give my life meaning and I got NOTHING.

I’m resentful for the lies that I was told. To keep going, to serve others, to try harder. I’ve done yoga. In India, even! I’ve visited an ashram. I’ve done my service. I’ve ridden a motorcycle, climbed a mountain, driven across the country and flown across the world. I have done so many things trying to escape sadness. You cannot imagine, you really can’t, what I’ve done to escape and be happy and learn to fly.

I think my brain just does not have happy in it and if someone would have told me that from the beginning and let me be unhappy and die, the world would be a better place. At least it would be for me.

Linda February 2, 2014 at 11:53 pm

I am still trying to find meaning at 53. Everything I ever thought about life and my purpose in it all crashed and burned at 50 so this is not just an affliction of the young. You just have the advantage of time which I do not. Struggle everyday just to get up in the morning to work as second shift supervisor in a rural community hospital, I feel like a hamster on a wheel. The work I used to love has become bogged down by bureaucratic crap,government restraints and decreasing budgets! Not at all optimistic about the future.


Alexander Heyne February 3, 2014 at 9:34 am

Hi Linda,

So why not change your future? What’s stopping you from making moves?


aLAN February 27, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Pointless or not?


Alexander Heyne February 27, 2014 at 6:31 pm

Alan –

When you think life is pointless, how does it make you feel?

Now if you think life is meaningful, how does it make you feel?

That will give you your answer.


Joop March 10, 2014 at 11:44 am

I found this site after doing some googling upon realising the reason I feel pretty crap about the world and life is because I’m doing an utterly pointless job that pays well, but is designed to keep people in work and the feeling that no matter how well I do a project or submit a PowerPoint I’m proud of – it makes no difference and doesn’t give me that much joy and that’s seeping into my life. I’ve been in this job for 2 years and last year, I quit drinking and started pursing stuff I liked doing, with this I lost some social circle but inwards felt happier and more content. I live in a small flat and am questioned about why I don’t get somewhere bigger and better. I don’t want a relationship just to get tied down with a mortgage and have kids. I see people in unhappy relationships have kids and pass on the same rules of life to their kids – go to school, get a job, get debt and have kids of your own. I figure ultimately the world is greedy so everything is about profit and keeping the system going. I’ve travelled and always been aware the people with less seem happier, conversely the people with loads seem happier to share (if they are not the insecure showy off rich types) and I see alcohol and drugs and the media hype to be a perfect body – as ways of control, you need a job to pay for the drink or gym that takes your mind off that occasional passing thought of ‘what’s the point’. And you’re right the whole point of life, is to live it. If your worried about the future, the bills, the promotion etc your stuck in a future that’s not happened yet and missing out on today. And you have to find what your take on that is, what makes you happy today, genuinely content and happy – is it to be surrounded by people you love? Or exploring new places or pushing your self to your physical limits. For me I lost my way and hense finding your site. Living for now, and not working to pay the bills that conversely you rack up in order to live somewhere to get a job. The worlds pretty twisted the way we are going – but reading this has made me feel better and I have some thinking to do about my story. Thankyou.


Jen March 25, 2014 at 10:56 pm

I’ve been driving everyone crazy with the meaning of life questions lately, on some days I am just furious because I cannot take it anymore. I’ve always had this longing for a mentor or just someone I could look up to so they could either give me the answer, or tell me it’s not important and I would just listen because, well, I look up to them.
When I reached my 30’s I realized… I don’t think I will ever get a mentor now, I’m too old, ha ha. I laugh, but… anyway. People don’t understand why it’s so important to me, but I like that metaphor about the chest game. I will tuck that away in a safe place in my mind for now to keep me sane :) Thank you.


phil conson April 30, 2014 at 3:48 am

I wish this could have helped me, but giving life meaning doesn’t give life any meaning for me. Oh well, good thing it’s not very long.


Alexander Heyne April 30, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Hi Phil,

“but giving life meaning doesn’t give life any meaning for me”

Clearly that’s not true, because you just made a logical contradiction :D


**Reason** May 17, 2014 at 9:08 pm

First, I want to thank Alex for taking the time to make this post when he did.

Unfortunately, especially as those who have made it through higher levels of academia know, the Humanities are horribly denigrated and devalued — yet, clearly, remain at the “heart” of what it means to be human.

I cannot help, having read so many responses, to see how relevant Marx’s analysis of the human condition is.

Our labor is at the heart of what constitutes our life. Whether that is creating ideas, infrastructure, managerial oversight, et cetera.

Despite the grander aspirations of those who ask this question ontologically speaking, the reality to me if that one must find oneself in a situation of labor which satisfies the ‘deeper’ yearnings of human existence.

If that is not attained, perpetual dissatisfaction will accompany life — that is: If one is conscious.

We tend to take that for granted. A lot of people are asleep. Truly, asleep.

That is also why Plato stated that Philosophy is dangerous: not everyone is capable of sustaining the rigor.

It will permanently alter you, so play carefully.


Rick May 18, 2014 at 5:03 pm

Comments/discussion has been going on for 2 years. See the dates on the comments. I fell into this “existential despair” 45 years ago at age 17 and it took me many years to pull out of it. I had it BAD. I couldn’t enjoy anything because I could always perceive the meaninglessness of it. But, I have found complete freedom. ZERO sense of existential despair anymore. You can email me at rickdavis@ccgvp.com if you would like to know my story. If not, I wish you well.


Alexander Heyne May 19, 2014 at 11:55 am

Hey Rick!

Would love to hear more from you. What were some of the key shifts you made?

– Alex


Jose Ortiz July 3, 2014 at 10:05 pm

Easy to tell people go do what you love and has purpose. But what about money? After I pay rent and buy very little food ,I have no no funds to try find a purpose. I don’t have a purpose, and don’t know where to start.


Alexander Heyne July 4, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Jose –

Pay your bills first, earn more money first, and then figure these things out.


Chicago Land July 18, 2014 at 12:09 am

I’ve spent well over 394,000 hours on this planet just to come to this one moment in time and space.


Alexander Heyne July 18, 2014 at 9:55 am

Chicago Land – Did it help?


Anna July 31, 2014 at 9:07 am

At 20 setting goals and living for their purpose is definitely the way to have a meaningful life for the next twenty years. However after 20 years of goal setting and continually finding purpose in the accomplishing of said goals what is the purpose of setting goals for the next twenty years after that if all that does is carry you forward to the following years without any purpose except to continually set goals so you have purpose?
There has to be a unique purpose for each of us just as there must be something more than just existing, setting goals so you can have a purpose so as to justify your existence, then no longer existing, no?

I hope that there is more to life than that .


Alexander Heyne August 4, 2014 at 1:31 pm

Hi Anna,

I think at some point, we need to start enjoying life without constant goal-setting. In my opinion, this is where meaningful work, and just simple life enjoyment comes into the picture.


Anna August 5, 2014 at 10:19 am

I’d wager you’re less miserable than most . Expect nothing and when you get nothing you won’t be dissapointed. Expect something and nothing will ever be enough because people who expect something without knowing what that something is will never be satisfied. This is where the opinion of life being good or bad comes into play. People who are afraid of a meaningless existence and expect “something ” without knowing what that is, need to believe that life is good. It has to be good otherwise why are they living it? People who believe that life is bad are afraid of being hurt yet again thus proven right about their belief, which brings them to the same concluding question of why live it?

Society rules run by the iron fist of the ruling system loves, LOVES the individuals who needs to be told how to feel about their life and why their lives should be lived according to good or bad or right or wrong or happy or sad . They love to tell said individuals how to feel and what to think and what they need in order to be happy or successful or even miserable if it keeps the machine going. The machine that is made up of individuals whom in order to be happy or miserable need to tell others how to be happy or miserable.

Everyone’s life is their own. Each aspect of it as individual as the being who’s living it.
I believe there is no good nor bad. No right way or wrong way of living as long as I live according to these rules I’ve adopted for my individual life:

Do no harm. Judge nothing. Live and let live.

Am I happy or miserable? Right or wrong? Who cares? Why label it? Why do human beings have to label and compartmentalize everything? Why can we not just be? Why can we not just live?

Anna August 5, 2014 at 10:37 am

Yes I agree . When it’s finally realized that the whole point to life is the achievement of joy through meaningful work, the whole goal setting purpose is exposed for what it is. That is, that we set goals to help us understand what meaningful work is to us, thus allowing us to live in the natural state of joy we are meant to live in. Sooner or later every individual realizes this. It would be so peaceful and so joyous if we all would catch on at the same time wouldn’t it? I believe people mean well. Everyone would get along so much better though if we all meant well in unison. :)

Anna August 5, 2014 at 10:40 am

Hey Alex,

My apologies the first reply was meant for themostdismal.

Justin Pickering August 19, 2014 at 6:58 pm

Breathe. Just breathe. And be at peace.


Jordan Reni August 22, 2014 at 3:34 am

Thank you


Alexander Heyne August 24, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Cheers Jordan!


justcallme H August 31, 2014 at 7:24 am

I woke up from my nap with my eyes half shut…looking for internet cafe inserting the words “what to do with life”. find the first blog then click enter

my story
I was moving to the capital to work as technician. If I am being honest, I never wanted to ended up in a boring and catatonic state. Actually I was dreaming of starting a new business and hoping I could create passive income to achieve financial freedom. But as days gone, I felt that every inch of hope keep diminishing with me getting older and opportunity keep getting slimmer. Everytime I watch a group of people had a conversations (either to their friends or relatives) I felt as if I am alone and there was no other person who would help me…
I was putting a fake mask of smile in front of other while the inside fell very miserable. In fact, I even started to cheer people up online while in reality I was the person who need cheer the most.
I don’t know.. I have tried to do anything I can. I learnt, I read, I stop gaming addictions, stop sleeping too late, even start to live more healthier
I just feel that I don’t belong anywhere not in the real world not even in network
Just FYI I am already at my 32, still single, my jobs did not provide a future, maybe I am just feeling afraid and the negativity in my co worker got to me sometimes.
People in my surrounding (my big family) gave me many advice and I done them but I still lack content…
If religion help and make me purposeful, I would not type any of this…
If people words about “being content with life equal happiness” I would not even type this…
Sorry for my ranting… It seems that I need to say what I must say because I don’t want that I am lost in life without purpose.



Alexander Heyne September 7, 2014 at 11:11 am

Hi there – What i’ve often found is that, we spend too much time thinking, and not enough time living. We live in the mind, rather than the body – which produces illness and sickness.

SO first… stop living in your head.

Second – what needs to change? Job? relationship? Friends?

What tiny action can you take today to improve those? Pick just ONE thing per day – and do it.


Nicholas September 3, 2014 at 4:48 am

This didn’t help at all. Once you ask yourself why you have a purpose then your life becomes meaningless again, because there is no explanation for that purpose. It’s just that it makes you happy. I have a passion, and while it distracts me and makes me happy, It does nothing to give my life any real reason.


James October 30, 2014 at 5:05 pm

God what a moron….. You obviously have no clue what the hell you’re talking about. Lemme break this down for you.

I have no desires, no wants, or passions, I have no one in my life, I never do anything right, and the mere fact that I live still is a divinely judged sentence for who knows what attrocities I purpotrated.

I want nothing out of life.
I have no goals or plans
I can’t fathome how it’s possible to keep going when the only reason you lived was for a person who now has passed on in a very violent manner.
Depression say, no, there’s no point…this is why. I don’t know what love is. I can’t react to anything with emotion, for example, if soneone hurts themselves or falls, or is bawling their eyes out… Even if they pass out on the floor…guess what? I remain emotionless and unsure how to react so I don’t. 40 damn years and I’ve not done a damn thing. I have nothing to show for anything, and I don’t care about that. I just want silent eternal rest, but I’m denied that even. I can’t get sick. Haven’t been sick in over 20 years now. I can’t go places, do things, because of a lack of money to do anything since all I make barely puts gas in my car and a roof over my head. I find joy in nothing. Everything seems designed to not only knock me down, but also stomp on me while daring me to get up so they can stomp on me again. I have no purpose. I never have, never will. I just exist till Lady Death comes for me to give me one final kiss goodbye then I die. This world is evil and it has sucked the life out of me… or it would have if I had a life, which I never have. What’s it feel like to be happy? To be in love? To have a reason to wake up every day when you so desperately want to sleep forever and never wake up again? I ingest about 20-30 sleeping pills a day and well, that didn’t do anything but make me hyper. I’m not allowed to die till I die of old age. I hate tv and never watch it. I have no real friends… I don’t blame them…or whoever though. I wouldn’t want to be my friend either. I just can’t make myself care about anything. Silence is the most welcoming sound I can think of and when coupled with complete darkness… well, that’s as close as I’ll ever be to this make believe feeling called “Happy”. I am the Universe’s personal cosmic whipping boy…. In a few days I may not even have a job due to my car breaking down, and can’t even get that fixed. I’m not like anyone the world has ever seen before. I get that from the constant funny looks I get from people as they have never seen someone like me before. They can’t relate to me, so I become the butt of all jokes, or ostrisized from everyone. If I step to the left or to the right, I lose everything. Did I mention I spend every waking moment practically in my room when I’m not at work? Nothing has meaning. Everything you know, learn, do, say…memories…. none of that goes with you when you die. Why bother then? I have had a sad look on my face for so many years it’s become permanent. I am nothing. I’ve done nothing, and … uh oh… sorry….becoming super drag your feet despondant slow motion, empty inside hopelessly depressed….sigh…pointless…. Depression will NOT allow you to live. It’s not a choice, it’s like you’re brain has a chastity belt on that keeps all good thoughts from getting out.


James October 30, 2014 at 5:10 pm

I lack the ability to do any of the pointless assinine things or more to the point no way to do any of those things even if I wanted to. Bucket list? bull crap. No way to do anything that might end up in such a bucket… might as well be a trashcan for all it’s worth.


James October 30, 2014 at 5:12 pm

I should just crawl in bed and hope to die in my sleep. No one would miss me anyhow. No love, no life, no hopes, no dreams, no desires, no wants, no happiness, no death, nobody…. Nothing.


gridsleep December 8, 2014 at 11:28 am

Too bad, I come up completely blank on the why. I’ve run out of reasons. Or maybe I’ve run out of lies to hide that I never had a reason. I remember the first time I went to college almost thirty years ago. I stood on the landing of a great stone staircase in the main hall, next to but not in the line for admissions, among hundreds and hundreds of total strangers my age, and a girl I had met earlier stopped and asked me what was the matter, and I said, “I don’t have the slightest idea why I’m here.” And I have never come up with a satisfactory answer to that in all these years. I don’t know why I’m here, I never will, and I am very near to not caring any more.


Misha December 14, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Thank you for this post. It was really beneficial to me :)


Roger Hansen January 2, 2015 at 2:51 am

Good read, and good points.

However, I still struggle to find meaning or purpose in life.

I climbed the career ladder literally from the ditches as a high-voltage apprentice in the power company and to a job as a manager in one of the leading rngineering companies in oil&gas development. When getting towards top and seeing just what manager jobs and titles entail I find myself questioning why I even bother. It is all so pointless. All you achieve is a little more status, a little more pay… And then you keep striving towards increasing that, alittle more. Rinse, repeat.

For what?

For a nicer house? Do I even need it? Again, for what? So I look more successful in the eyes of others?

I couldn’t care less.

Some might say family, but I never cared for a family. We already have 7 billion people struggling through life, disease, wars, social acceptance, questing for happiness and love and all other illusions of perfect life. Why would I want to be responsible for bringing another child into this world?

I don’t want to, nor will I ever.

What of love? Sharing life and its experiences? Love, if anything, is a brief moment of happiness, a short bright day followed by a long, dreadful night with sorrow, grief and broken hearts. I have never seen true love, and everything branded as love is a series of compromises, quiet acceptance and more often than not ending in the long, black night of heartache. Why would I want to put myself through such inevitable misery?

I don’t want to, so I will never again.

Whay of the smaller things in life? A boat, a cottage, a dog, travelling, hobbies? Again, what for? Social acceptance? To camouflage myself in a cloak of percieved happiness? I care little for boats and cottages in the mountain or by a lake. I’ve had plenty pets, loved them all and they all died bringing nothing but sadness and ache in their wake.

My ambitions are extinguished.
My longing for love has withered away.
My curiosity is sated.

Now I only seek sleep.
A reprieve where thoughts and dreams take me where this meaningless life never can.
My hope, and my happiness, will come the day when I no longer rise from my sleep again.


Alexander Heyne January 13, 2015 at 2:03 pm

Hey Roger –

You sound a lot like me.

Here’s the solution: stop pursuing anything AS A GOAL. Only do the things you enjoy – or work towards that more. Do you see the trend? You write as if everything has to be done for something bigger and better. But – from what I’ve observed – the most fulfilled, happy people pursue their life’s task/calling/career that they enjoy doing every day – without focusing on what tomorrow results in, or what achievement comes of it.


Gerhard January 14, 2015 at 6:28 am

Hey, really nice article and I’m impressed with the way you respond to various people’s questions and comments. Well done!

I have a really fun job (relationship and team building at a high school – basically I get paid for making learners have educational fun for a whole day).

When I’m busy working, I feel great and life feels meaningful and awesome. But when I’m busy planning the activities and so on then I get really miserable and think I’m in the wrong profession etc etc. what do you think I should do- stay in my career or leave and seek “better”?


Alexander Heyne January 15, 2015 at 8:59 am

Gerhard –

I can’t answer that question for you – what does your gut say?


nick January 18, 2015 at 11:44 pm

hi,,,i read the whole post and found it really amazing…i graduated from the college 6 months back, i didnt join the job offered to me (that was offering me a good salary) and instead opted to prepare for a better job which requires studying for a long duration of time without much interacting with other people,,,now for the last three days i have been having really deep thoughts,,i feel like this whole world is an illusion,,we are born, and we die, as if this whole world is controlled by someone else..i dont understand if the god exists and if it does, then why would he create us and this universe just to ultimately destroy it…it is really surprising for me to get such thoughts because i am a person with scientific outlook,,,but i just cant enjoy things happening around me,,,even when i go out and i keep myself engaged in such thoughts and feel depressed,,,i also went to a psychiatrist and he wrote me down some pills and my talk therapy will start soon,,but i was wondering if the same thing happened with you as well? and if it did, how did u manage to get out of this hopelessness and be able to enjoy life? are there any books that i can read that would be helpful in my case? thanks in advance


nick January 20, 2015 at 12:12 pm

hi,,,i read the whole post and found it really amazing…i graduated from the college 6 months back, i didnt join the job offered to me (that was offering me a good salary) and instead opted to prepare for a better job which requires studying for a long duration of time without much interacting with other people,,,now for the last three days i have been having really deep thoughts,,i feel like this whole world is an illusion,,we are born, and we die, as if this whole world is controlled by someone else..i dont understand if the god exists and if it does, then why would he create us and this universe just to ultimately destroy it…it is really surprising for me to get such thoughts because i am a person with scientific outlook,,,but i just cant enjoy things happening around me,,,even when i go out and i keep myself engaged in such thoughts and feel depressed,,,i also went to a psychiatrist and he wrote me down some pills and my talk therapy will start soon,,but i was wondering if the same thing happened with you as well? and if it did, how did u manage to get out of this hopelessness and be able to enjoy life? are there any books that i can read that would be helpful in my case? thanks in advance,,please reply asap


Tyler January 20, 2015 at 1:46 pm

I don’t mean for this to come out negative, but I am always pondering a purpose in my life, but I feel with my views on life in general there really would be no purpose except for the greater good of the human species. Life is the only thing that can travel space and time. As we fester on this planet like a virus I find it hard to believe I can have a single or cumulative purpose to make sure life continues on. Even if I could, at the grander scale, we are so small and insignificant the end of life as flesh and blood will one day be impossible in this universe.


Tyler January 20, 2015 at 1:52 pm

EDIT: I am always pondering a purpose in my life, but I feel with my views on life in general there really would be no purpose except for the greater good of the human species. Life is the only thing that can travel space and time. As we fester on this planet like a virus I find it hard to believe I can have a single or cumulative purpose to make sure life continues on. Even if I could, at the grander scale, we are so small and insignificant that life as flesh and blood will one day be impossible in this universe.


melissa March 14, 2015 at 5:48 pm

Hi, °̩ hαve chronic depression or bipolar, °̩ will be going to α psychiatrist soon for tests. My main problem is depression and losing hope and getting bored often, my whole life has been about survival, buying food, making sure kids hαve everything they need. My oldest is 23, and other 2 are 14 and 16, they go out on weekends and hubby works away on contracts. So I’m basically alone. °̩ get so depressed, °̩ can’t hold down any jobs or even going to gym, °̩ feel like people will see through me, that I’m not as good as them. °̩ don’t know why °̩ feel like this. My mind changes often and °̩ suddenly stop going to gym or aerobics even after I’ve paid in advance. My kids and other people expect me to drive them everywhere like α free taxi. °̩ resent that, but when no one asks me for anything °̩ feel invisible and if °̩ die no one will miss me, apart from the lift. Once all the kids leave the house (which I’m dreading) in α few years, what do °̩ do? My only purpose is to provide and be used by them. All the friends that °̩ thought were friends, stabbed me in the back, so °̩ don’t trust anyone. Hubby works away and when he comes home °̩ try to be happy but °̩ know he’s leaving αgα°̩n so °̩ don’t really register that he’s around so that the pain of him leaving αgα°̩n °̩sn’t too bad. °̩ go to the doctor every 3 months or so to change meds because they don’t seem to be working. Recently my staff ran my business into the ground so °̩ closed it down, and °̩ hαd friends working there! So now °̩ can’t trust anyone, I’m sure they were stealing. °̩ don’t know what °̩ did to them to make them crush my business. We also applied to buy α house and made big plans, and that d°̩dn’t work out, so °̩ got no goals, having α business, owning α home etc all gone down the drain. All °̩ can hope for is that my kids finish school and get good jobs, they not very nice to me and hαve lots of demands and turn their backs on me if °̩ say no or don’t hαve enough money for something. Then when they’re out the house what do °̩ do? I’ve gotten so used to being used and never having time for myself that °̩ don’t know what °̩ want, even when I’m alone on the weekend °̩ don’t know what to do, °̩ just sit here and get more depressed. My 16 year old daughter might also be bipolar and she’s caused me α lot of stress lately, °̩ feel like I’m going mad, my pills don’t work properly anymore, I’m 40 and feel like my life is almost over, everything is too much effort, I’m so tired all the time, sorry to go on, maybe чσυ hαve some advice for me, and thank чσυ for this site


Life is pointless April 13, 2015 at 7:24 pm

Life is fkin useless i find it pointless my mum doesnt alloy me do anything all i do ia strudying , eating , drinking , we never fkin go out and i really want to kill myself but thats not allowed in my religion 2nd thing i dont have any goal in this life , no friends , no one to talk to , nothing to ride nothing to exercise we never go out of our state and in our summer vacation we plan to do things but we ddot do shit at all and i have no hobby or goal or something skilled in 2nd thing no1 loves me or anything plus we arent rich anymore or anything like my life is like a jail….


Alexander Heyne April 14, 2015 at 12:38 pm

Hi there –

Let’s take it from here -you may NOT be able to do a lot. But what CAN you do? You’ll depress yourself if you spend time every day thinking about what you’re forbidden to do.


Ekajati April 16, 2015 at 2:33 pm

Interesting points but what about when you don’t have any goal that you want to go towards, when any sort of goal just feels like “what’s the point?”. Most people would say “time to see a psychotherapist” and I would if it weren’t for that a) it costs an arm and a leg and b) both I and other people I know tried it for many years and although it’s nice to have someone listen to you for an hour and there’s the odd dramatic moment where you cry a bit, it didn’t really get us anywhere. My theory is that people who are quite intellectual are very good at hiding their psyches, and they just rather get off on therapy.


Annika May 3, 2015 at 9:16 pm

This has helped me a whole lot. I have recently been through a period of my life where everything that gave me purpose fell away in about a months time (job, friends, health, school, and relationship). When I bring up issues like this to the people around me they don’t seem to understand, this may be because I am a senior in high school and most people haven’t started to think of anything other than their weekend plans, but it seems I am surrounded by people that don’t see any problem with following the normal “go to school, get into college, graduate from college, get good job, get married, have kids, do this until you die” trend that seems so pressed on us today. This isn’t what I want out of life. I don’t know what I want yet, or how to find purpose again. I don’t know what my story is, or what my “why” in life is, but this has given me hope that I am not the only one who feels this way. That my feelings aren’t abnormal. That there is a way out of this endless worthlessness and meaningless swirl of a life I have been stuck in for 5 months. So thank you. Thank you so much.


Peace Church May 18, 2015 at 12:26 pm

Life is what you want to make of it. If you feel that your life is meaningless, purposeless, eventless, you will rot away as a couch potatoe or somehow squander it otherwise with nothing to show when you die and the dust will return to the soil from which you were taken. You will be erased out of history. Most divorced men fall into this category. Life is whatever you want to make of it, solely your choice, and regardless of circumstances of birth and adolescence, there is a point where the light clicks in your head and you realize you are your own person, you are a people, independent thinker, individual consciously exiting entity, and still important, even though one speck of billions of others just like yourself. So you can made a meaning in life by being a meaning for other people and your community and society and civilization, meaning in life is what you do so you do not just disappear from history when you die. Some people make the mistake of joining a meaning that is to someone else’s benefit and find themselves losing their life by being taken advantage of by someone else, others lose meaning by selfishness or conceit or ambition that fails and they lose it all. Just experiencing life is not meaning, although travel and excitement is good sometimes, but it is a passing moment, and you are just taking advantage of life but meaning consists in accomplishment, even if art or sports or entertainment or writing, it is leaving something behind edifying, constructive, beneficial, a legacy, that is above the surface of your grave. This is meaning.


Eric May 20, 2015 at 11:58 pm

I wake up and spend 8 hours of my day teaching special education to high school students. I have a masters degree and wNt of money.At the end of the day I can just barely tolerate myself enough to say “good job” I reward myself by drinking and taking Xanax to fall asleep due to sever anxiety about the nex day. I wake up and do it all over again. If I ask myself why or punish myself for it my duty to my students, wife, and dog just suffer more. Just keep moving forward somehow.


Eric May 21, 2015 at 12:00 am

Plenty of money*


Diana May 22, 2015 at 12:05 pm

Hi Alex,

This really resonated with me, I think you have to be at a certain point to Google things like “what am I doing with my life and how the hell do I change it?”

I think one of the most frustrating things is not knowing which path to follow, I have been in a constant battle of not knowing which goals to set myself because I am interested in so many things, and so far I have pursued a few different things all the while feeling like Ive chosen the wrong one, but as soon as i give up I have the feeling that I should have stuck with it. I am constantly regretting my past decisions and feeling total unbridled jealousy of all of the people who seem to be getting somewhere.

I call it “finger in too many pies” disease. I’m envious of musicians in the same way I am envious of doctors and people who have their own businesses, and I think that I could do anything, but I don’t want to feel like I am cutting off my options by deciding which path to take. I feel like if I keep flitting between ideas I will be in the same position in 10 years time with nothing to show for my efforts.

Everyone I know expresses their belief in my talents, and my talents and interests are so diverse they barely have anything to do with each other apart from that they are almost always artistic. I need to do something, but which avenue will be the best for me in the long run.

I am going round and round in circles, and I think that for people who have a blank canvass it might be easier to set goals, however big. I, on the other hand, don’t have a blank canvass where I don’t know what I want to do or be, the problem is I have too many options, and I don’t know how to rule things out, or if I should do that at all…..


crazycat May 23, 2015 at 12:12 am

Hi. I came across this post by googling why life is meaningless. I have been severely depressed off and on for years. For the past few weeks I have been feeling hopeless and worthless. I can’t stop living in the past, when everything seemed so magical. At least that’s how I choose to remember it. I know life has its ups and downs, but this is an all new low for me. I thought I hit rock bottom before, but this is beyond that. I don’t know where to turn or what to do anymore. I feel like this world would be better off without me. I cannot fix my past mistakes and it is literally driving me to the brink of insanity. I don’t want to be sad for the rest of my lonely life. I fear change, have pretty extreme OCD and am a hoarder. I want to help myself but I am afraid of failure. I don’t understand what became of the happier me. I also firmly believe turning 40 had a huge impact in my life and contributed to my general feeling of hopelessness. I will be 48 this year and it isn’t getting any better. I feel like my life is over. I can’t imagine being here much longer to be honest. I now realize a lot of people feel the same way. I hope something can give my life meaning in the future. Thank you for your insight. Btw, my dream was to become a writer, but I was too scared to try and make it come true. I also fear rejection. This isn’t my best attempt obviously. I just wish I could go back in time and fix everything. Maybe then I could feel something other than complete emptiness.


Lucy Ricardo May 25, 2015 at 6:32 pm

I never ever imagined at my age (60) I’d be alone and my family rejecting me. I’m an only child born to an atheist father and alcoholic mother. Both grew up during the depression and my mother’s negativity in everything has always given me the strength to NOT be like her. I married at 20 to my best male friend in high school. We stayed together for less than 3 years. We were only supposed to be friends – not lovers and life partners. I spent the next 5 years kissing a lot of frogs and finally at age 28 thought I met the love of my life. When we met it was the “Thunderbolt”. Instant attraction, love at first site and we just “knew”. I lived in the midwest; he was moving back home to New England. It was a whirlwind courtship and on our 10 month anniversary, we got married. I moved to New England, gave up my job and future promotion for less money and benefits (so did my husband, but he had worked for 10 years building a small nest egg). Culture shock was an issue for me having gone from the Cleveland suburbs to a New England small town. Everything was at least 20 years behind. People weren’t the same. I was considered “from away”. Even my husband’s best friend and his wife told me they couldn’t be friends with me because they were friends with him first. I was shocked and couldn’t imagine MY friends saying that to my hubby had we stayed in the midwest. They weren’t kidding. His wife never invited me to go shopping with her, have coffee, dinner at their house – nothing. I had them over for dinner, invited her to shop (she always declined because she worked). We had two children together, I stayed at home after our daughter was born; he worked two jobs when the kids were little. I clipped coupons – was the Room Mom at school, volunteered at church and was even school board chair. I hosted birthday parties, anniversary parties and wake dinners at my home. Ours was the house where all the kids liked to come. We were the “cool parents” and our kids were popular and had wonderful friends. We had our ups and downs like every couple but after 20 years of marriage, he found out he has ADHD, something which caused many issues in our relationship. I was thrilled! He was mortified and refused to take help from me and the kids. He started on his “journey” and began reading about the meaning of life. He went from a cradle Catholic to a non-believer. I didn’t know who I was married to any more. He was being promoted at work and was “forced” to join the local Rotary Club. Within weeks, he was getting phone calls at home from women. He began getting cards, letters and post cards from women members. I was livid – he was mortified because one of them was in her 70s! Add to our life, two teenagers, boyfriend and girlfriend issues, menopause for me and mid-life crisis for him and BOOM. I turned around and he was gone. We “celebrated” our 25th anniversary with no cards or parties. Didn’t get a gift from him either. By January 2010, he had moved out. Our daughter was in college; our son graduating from high school. Soon my son moved in with his dad and I was alone for the first time in decades. What began as a “trial separation” turned into him sleeping with other women and beginning to date. I was and still am in love with my husband, but he had begun this “journey” and turned into someone I didn’t know anymore. He wanted his cake and eating it to but when he realized I wouldn’t put up with his crap, he asked for a divorce over the phone, while I was driving home from work in rush hour traffic. He has walked away and never looked back. He’s treated me worse than his enemies in all dealings from the separation, divorce and after. He refused to give our daughter a formal wedding – something that I’ve been dreaming of since she was born. She asked me to stand up and be her witness with just her groom and his single mom. When my ex found out, he took over and insisted that he be at the simple ceremony. He even physically pushed me out of the way when I attempted to stand next to my daughter. When the Justice of the Peace said “Who gives this woman?” His response was “I do”….not “Her mother and I do” which my dad sat at OUR wedding. He’s rarely spoken to me since then. He’s remarried and I don’t exist. I haven’t been allowed at a family function for over 5 years. I hate living on the outside looking in. I don’t deserve to be ignored and abused by my “family” like I have been. I don’t find joy in anything I do. I do needlework and read but I can only do them a few minutes at a time as I was also recently diagnosed with ADD and Aspergers. ALL of my dreams of the future included my family; vacations, building our dream retirement home, going to Disney with the grandchildren, our romantic trip to Hawaii that we always talked about, a pontoon boat on the river, etc. Our parents are gone and we should be retired and enjoying life. Instead, he’s in debt and will be working for another 5 years to pay off his mortgages – something he said he would NEVER have at age 60. Since I’m considered “from away” even though we’ve lived here over 30 years, I have no friends. The one couple that even bothered to continue to call me after the cheating and divorce, don’t invite me along anymore. I was the 3rd wheel and it was blatantly obvious that HE was missing. Every day is a struggle; I cry every single day and have since he left in January 2010. I have nothing to live for. My son barely speaks to me. He’s still living at home with dad. I see my married daughter routinely but we haven’t been together as a family since 2012. I miss my family – I’d give anything to have one meal, one afternoon, one day where we would be together and start to heal. He doesn’t want that. I am so tired of begging to die. I tried dating but at this age, guys are only looking for hookups and the quality of guy is awful. It’s been so long since I’ve been happy I wouldn’t know what that feels like. My daughter isn’t having kids so I won’t even get to be a grandmother. I just exist and hope every night that I won’t wake up. I miss my husband, son and family. I’d give anything to be with them again.


Zac May 26, 2015 at 11:25 pm

Hey bro whats your e-mail?
I need to talk to you. I read Milk the pigeon. I need your help.


Sandeep May 28, 2015 at 11:17 am

Well you are good at this purpose thing. I choose a wrong subject in college. I am good at that but it does not feel interesting to me so I am just escaping from it and it is making my life boring and pointless. At this stage I can’t go back and choose my favourite. It really is killing me inside.


Ron June 3, 2015 at 12:39 pm

I’m glad I ran into this site, as you’ve got me started thinking in a different way about my remaining future. You see, I’m torn between having lived with the thought my purpose was just sacrifice. I.E., get by day to day, just make it through. My life story is, 4 years as a Paratrooper, 32 years as a Firefighter / Paramedic. When you asked about which option I preferred earlier, (Money or Meaningful Employment) , of course I wanted both. But, part of me says you sacrifice one for the other, especially where Family was concerned. Unfortunately, Family is part of the past, as I’m divorced( 6 years). Now that I’m retired, I was hit with a double whammy, leaving me asking, where do I go from here ? My life story tends to highlight all the negatives as well. Can you make up for the past ? Once again, I’m just making it day by day.


Lee Kah Win June 7, 2015 at 8:49 am

Hi, I’ve read this and I seem to realise that this article, or rather this life i live in right now is not to find meaning in life but how to make our lives not feel meaningless, if that makes sense. I am aware that current “meaningless scenarios” life puts you in makes you find that life is meaningless, such as a job you dislike, or studying in school which seems too mundane, or in my current situation where I am forced to serve my country in the army where we basically do nothing and I am left to admit defeat that I am going to waste my 2 years of my life in a place where I will not learn and improve myself, and even if i do improve myself using my own free time what is this improvement for? Is there not more to life than eating, sleeping, and finding something to occupy myself be it with a long or short term purpose? Or making myself find a flow in something I like to do? I agree I do enjoy the flow I get when i play a game of basketball where the stars align and I hit that perfect three. But is there not more to this life I’m living than trivial things?

Sure I can help myself, help others, be remembered in history, help people of the future, then what? Is there all that is to life?

I just can’t help but contemplate and wonder what is going on and what is supposedly going on in this life of mine. I don’t even know where to start and where this ends. I guess I just realized I’m at a real lost and have forgotten my purpose in life, or if there is even supposed to be this purpose in life. Whatever the case, I know the circumstances that I am in is definitely promoting this problem and is driving me nuts, having to spend 2 years in a place where I do not belong and a place I do not enjoy one bit. Then again, I have to do something I have passion and drive for a purpose, and get enjoyment at a side product isn’t it? These 2 years of mine serving a nation I desperately detest is not helping one bit. I am left to wonder if I need to seek professional help and what the fuck this life is about. Just losing it right now, and contemplating suicide.

Please help me.


ephantus June 8, 2015 at 2:22 pm

Lately I have been depressed like hell. Nothing am doing seems to be working. Am working like a horse and everyone around me expects me to do something. And it gets worse every time am going through trying to do something. It’s true that after a hundred years a population exist and vanishes all in the name of living. I wish to find someone to define what lifes purpose is coz I don’t get it. My life revolves around working, paying bills, trying to look good to everyone who thinks I like him or her, eating, sleeping. I don’t get it. Sometimes I wish someone sponsors me for planet Mars exploration coz I’d never come back to Earth. Everything that lives is subject to death,, so we are trapped in time. Think of yourself as a sheep in a farm and the farmer decides to have a party, or a wolf happen to be passing by…………


sean June 23, 2015 at 2:53 am

Here is an idea! If someone is looking to your page because they feel life is meaningless, don’t immediately display a photo of a shitty stuffed bear listlessly resting against a wall, or any other image representing that forlorn emotion. I’m personally looking for other people who feel the same, not imagery that represents how I currently feel. How very de-motivational. And then the opening line…. I don’t give a fuck if you think you were annoying as a kid. We all were annoying. We were kids. Fuck off.


Del July 13, 2015 at 10:29 pm

Life is tragic. I never talk about myself, as too many self-centered individuals do. My conversations always turn into discussing their experience within the subject. I am an educated clear thinker and understand the concept of purpose, but, if your purpose is defined at a lower plateau, because you can’t fund the first, say dozen, purposes you desire and for which you feel deep passion, that would define and encapsulate you and your existence, life is still not meaningful. I’m sure by now you are taking issue with my understanding of “Purpose”, but I assure you, my vigilant perception and concept is clear. At this point in life, my purpose is to provide for my family, within the meager means I am afforded. Not withstanding luck, association, relationship, network, timing, location, prejudice, or other intangible factors, my education, training, skill, logic, desire, and passion, are squelched by opportunity and financial ability. If you say money doesn’t matter, all I can say is wow. Yes, I have and feel a purpose in life, but it is not the purpose I chose. It is the purpose afforded to me, for which I had to settle. Purpose doesn’t make you happy. It just gives you a sense of being needed. On the other hand, happiness is not the plateau reached through achievement of goals. In my humble opinion, happiness is the pursuit. Static thought, at both ends of the spectrum, whether in the non-motivated or upon total success, is boring and seemingly meaningless. But, the trip, drive, motivational compass, and pursuit of something (anything) is what give life meaning and drives happiness through vision and desire. I don’t want my purpose in life to be a good Plumber or CEO. I want my purpose in life to be the purpose for which I would give my life fighting to achieve. Not what life has bestowed upon me and for which I have settled, and, conceived it to be my reason for living. But, like religion, if it gets people by – Go for it.


Jordan August 9, 2015 at 10:45 pm

I have been chronically depressed for 9 months now and even suicidal for a brief period of time. early on in my depression I lost my faith and since then felt completely lost, but you made some great points about purpose. I believe I have found my purpose after reading this article and that is to be a musician, it is against the odds but if I don’t try and succeed in becoming a successful musician then I don’t have a purpose on this earth. All other famous and successful musicians started off right where I was and that means that I can do it too. Thank you for bringing my spirits up and helping me find meaning to my existance.


Mickey Masters August 16, 2015 at 1:09 am

Nice article.Not sure if you still reply. I’m a big fan of Victor Frankl’s work (Man’s search for meaning) as well but my history lecturer told me he was either a fraud or someone who misrepresented his work. By Frankl’s own admission he was in the concentration camp for no more than 3 days whereas his work makes it seem that he was there for a prolonged period. Interestingly, another history journal refers to evidence were Victor Frankl was gassed at Auschwitz. Trying to derive the meaning of life from books is a dangerous game!



Sarge August 17, 2015 at 1:47 pm

I learned spanish, made my own business and I can lift 200 pounds in gym. Still feel damn bored, as i realize how meaningless is all that.


Stephanie September 6, 2015 at 4:00 pm

I read Frankl before for my intro to psychology class. It’s quite interesting to me the notion that a person must(in his case) must face literal hell in order to gain a higher appreciation for life.

As I read the comments left on this site by others it has come across my head that there is nothing else I can add to the discussion. Surprisingly my own experiences have been mentioned by other post.At some point in my life. In all honesty these questions and feelings never truly go away. They return from time to time. I have felt like there is no purpose, I have questioned the existence of god, I have pondered about lives other than my own. It’s sad and disappointing that some of us never truly find our individual purpose.

I do try to do different things with myself, study, read, write, travel, spend time with my family. I have a list of things to do , see shows, movies , Ted Talks, ride my bike, mediate etc. I love to learn even though at many moments it has caused anxiety within me. I enjoy talking and being with my younger cousins. I am trying to go out more and be alive, enjoy life. I figured that if I stand still and continue asking all these questions I will inevitably drive myself mad. I’m not strong enough to commit suicide neither do I want to live stuck in misery. So while I am here I’ll continue my search and exploration.

I have been fortunate to meet amazing people, to interact with people that have incredible energy despise their poverty. I have had great moments of loss, of feeling empty, of nearing insanity. With all the mental noise and societal pressures. I’ve asked myself why am I here. Nonetheless those moments I won’t deem as completell horrible, they may be part of growing and realizing that not everything is perfect. Anyhow I just want to continue growing and developing mental strength. To understand myself and the world around me.


Rhyme October 7, 2015 at 1:11 am

Most of the things suggested above like “living a story” amongst others are the exact opposite to what was suggested by age old saints and sages, who through intense meditation and other practices realized how most humans apparently exhaust all their lives “living a story” and thinking that it is real when actually the truth could be the silent observer that you do not wish to be. Echart Tolle’s “A new earth” propounds how living a story or feeding the ego is probably the exact opposite of the truth.


Oneglobalfaith October 12, 2015 at 6:10 am

One reason why we occasionally lose purpose is when our vision is confined to their own selves. You only need to watch the news or look around at the sad and helpless state of so many people, and you’ll find plenty of reasons for living a life of purpose. Someone today living without purpose is like a person on a sinking boat full of scared and dying people saying “I couldn’t think of anything useful or noble to do”.

“…let your vision be world embracing rather than confined to your own selves”.



john gentile October 27, 2015 at 9:11 am

i didnt like the article. it makes u feel like your understanding or perception of life is wrong and if you just…..fill in the blank…..strive??? you will eventually get there. wrong. Charles Bukowski had it right when he wrote his poems all about the loss of life and when he had his personal slogan be “Dont Try”. im gonna tell you my life story and hopefully someone will relate and then you will see that there isnt freewill or freedom. YOU REALLY ARE STUCK. and the only thing you can do is either try to believe in a next life or stop caring. so on with the life story. I was sheltered. all the way to 15 i didnt have many friends at all and was a bedwetting loser who was a nerd and homeschooled. was brought up in a strict christian southern baptist way. i read the catcher in the rye at 15 and watched the girl of my dreams go after other guys. i felt this dread at 15 finally realizing im not in control. all this innocence will be used. all these girls you like are going to be used and be someones sex puppet. so i am sent to christian school where i am a nerd and have like 1 friend and im shy as hell. barely talk all year. 10th grade comes and im told i should tell a girl i like my feelings so i do so only to be made a fool of at break the next day as she laughs ” he told me he loved me!!!!” she proceeded to go out with the 25 year old druggie love of her life. i internalized it all and felt ugly and stupid. i was tired at 17 and lonely and emotionally fucked up. i had so many issues im surprised i didnt murder anyone by the time i was 19. i kept to myself graduated valedictorian and went off to college. everyone was having sex drinking and doing drugs and i felt like ” im gonna go to hell if i do all this stuff!!!” so i had basically a nervous breakdown in college. i didnt know how to fit in. so i jammed to hendrix and basically had a meltdown and went running home. said to myself i will ask girls out and get a job and get a small house and by 25 i will have my very own family. so i got a factory job and was living at home and i still couldnt afford anything as i made my 6.50 at arbys and 9 at a wood company. so i was angry and felt stuck. how am i gonna make it? so i listened to bruce springsteen and i went cruising just looking for one women in america to date. i walked up to 100 women in the course of a year and NOBODY WOULD GIVE ME A CHANCE. so by this point i was working at red lobster and i was 19 years old. my sisters friends asked me to come to a house party and i was offered marijuana and i said to myself ” hell this is wrong but i dont fucking have a life so what does it matter?” so i tried pot which led to extasy, which led to pcp, which then went to cocaine. i did that for a period of 3 months, felt bad and then gave it all up and decided to work harder. my hard work led me to attempt college again at 25 and i got sick and got in debt to the tune of 10k because i didnt have health insurance due to not having a decent job at the time(u like the vicious circle?) so i keep cruising on my days off and working and asking girls out and NOTHING HAPPENS . i get no money, i get rejection all the time, and i am basically left in my parents house as life passes me by. all i wanted was freedom, happiness, life and joy. so long story short i know too late right!!! long story short i spent 25-32 alone and struggling for money. and i sit back and try to believe in god and find meaning and find hope and i struggled and tried and bla bla bla but i dont care anymore. when u hit a brick wall long enough you will just live the life u have and give up on being concerned about it all. everything in this world is a lie and is bought and sold so tell me how there can be meaning to it? and so i read charles bukowski and only relate to him because everyone else in this life buys into the positivity THE SECRET bullshit and will never say anything that is sincere or real at all. so thats the story of the lonesome loser :) (beaten by the queen of hearts every time) haha take care


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Jeanri November 12, 2015 at 1:19 pm

I need help.

Everyday I’m in a constant struggle trying to convince myself that my life has meaning. My job helps people, I help people. But I never seem to convince myself. After High School I went to study engineering. It was really hard, it was tough. But at least I had that aim/goal/purpose to finish it. I got a bursary and was therefore forced to finish my degree. I didn’t mind though. I liked studying. Even though it killed me at times. It gave me purpose….and so I got my degree. 3 years down the line now. I have been working back my bursary in a town I hate. I get paid well. I have enough money to do most things I want, but yet I struggle to get out of bed every morning, thinking to myself… What is the point of this… I wish I could run away from my meaningless life. I try spend time on my hobbies. But then end up getting bored because even that feels meaningless. Everyday at work, I get excited to go home. But once I get home, I have no idea what to do. I have no idea what I want to do. I could go out and see friends… then go to bed. Then wake up. Then go to work again… I constantly have a million things to do, but have no desire to do them because they feel pointless. So I don’t do them.. then I get bored.. I don’t know where to go from here. I don’t know what I want to do with my life


Simon December 7, 2015 at 9:03 am

I’m in my 30s. Here is my stance on meaning of life… Life becomes meaningless when we become bored and no longer challenged. When a human mind is bored, it starts to malfunction in ways most do not understand. For one, your chemicals begin to get out of balance. Chemicals is how we as humans perceive everything, all our feelings. Think of our mind as our body. If you stop living an active lifestyle and just feed yourself excessive calories, you will get fat and start getting all sort of physical alignments. Our mind is very similar in this regard. When we quit exercising it and feed it excessive thoughts, it will get fat and you’ll start getting all sort of mental alignments like depression, etc.. It is thus important to keep those chemicals in check. This is done in large degree by a healthy life style: eating right, exercising, sleeping right, educate yourself to control stress/anger as the school system and your parents more than likely had failed to do so. Then, just go after what you like, whatever it might be as long as you’re not hurting anyone or yourself. I mean, the things that will keep you preoccupied. Get into new hobbies or try something you ever wanted to do since young age. Volunteer, meet new people, learn new things, read, explore. I assure you, if you ever think of the time you were not concerned with meaning of life, you will discover that time was spent learning and discovering the world… until one day, you just stopped doing it. Whatever the reason, you can always go back, even if you are missing all 4 limbs. I think that is the ultimate meaning of life in a nutshell. Best of luck in getting over the hill!


Alexander Heyne December 8, 2015 at 1:15 pm

Simon – this is pure gold. 100% agree that life becomes meaningless when we are bored and no longer challenged.


anonymous December 30, 2015 at 2:28 pm

Hi guys.

If you wondering why life is meaningless it’s because it is.

Go read Ecclusiastics in the bible and it explains why. This book was written 6 thousand years ago. And it has a lot of wisdom in it.

It basically comes down to that we should fear God and keep his commandments for he has a plan. We here on earth not for our purpose but for his. We have been given time on earth to full prepare and equipt ourselves for eternity.

Life is a short minded goal. Eternity should be our life’s goal.

Life’s short guys in case you haven’t noticed.

So come on don’t put all your energy and focus on earthly things and activities.

Focus it on God. And make it into the everything lasting life. Because that’s forever. That’s meaningful.


Taylor January 4, 2016 at 11:52 pm

How do you overcome the feeling of being too old or too late? Because unfortunately, passed a certain point, your brain and body doesn’t work quite as well and becomes like an old car.


Alexander Heyne January 6, 2016 at 3:45 pm


What’s the alternative? Rewind time? You’re going to have to live the next 10, 20 or 50 years – do you want them all to be the same as today, or a different kind of day? Start building the good life :-)


Alexander Heyne January 14, 2016 at 3:34 pm

Hey Taylor,

To me it’s simple: I still have 20, 30, 50, or 70 more years to live – do I want to repeat every. damn. day. doing what I did today? If not – if it sucked – then that’s all the inspiration I need. One day, I can do something different if I work hard now. Time will pass no matter what, why not work towards the life you enjoy?


Anonymous January 19, 2016 at 1:24 pm

Thank you for this article. If I didn’t come across it I would’ve taken my life. I hope this helps others as it has helped me.


Alexander Heyne January 27, 2016 at 1:16 pm

Glad it helped !


David February 19, 2016 at 9:27 pm

Hello Alexander.
I have gone through the phase where I feel meaningless. I have found purpose and I have found what I enjoy and I have found what I am good. And now that I know those I am interminably BORED by all of those things that I know to be my purpose. The few things I am good at, I am not good enough at to be fulfilling. I have traversed my meaninglessness and come out feeling more meaningless.



Alexander Heyne February 26, 2016 at 1:07 pm

” The few things I am good at, I am not good enough at to be fulfilling. ”

So why not get good enough? And if you found what gives you purpose… why would it be boring? Maybe you haven’t found it then.


Glory February 23, 2016 at 4:16 pm

Wow.. It truly touch my life.. And hav been struggling to knw wat is real purpose of me doing wat i am doing.. #my life gota meAning


Andrew March 20, 2016 at 1:34 pm

I personaly think the “meaning/purpose of life” is to experience the material dimension. What else can there be, seeing as that is exactly what we are doing. So we might as well try and enjoy it while we are here, although that is extremly difficult for some people for various reasons.

Maybe after we die our energy field probably goes back to a great big “cloud” of energy experience and we become one.

If it’s not the case and we just die, then might as well make the most of it while we’re here.

I had so many hurdles thrown on my path I hardly had time to worry about “purpose” and such, was too busy getting by. Only now that things have settled a bit do I get the “bear in a cage” feeling.

I personaly don’t need goals in life, enjoying nature, going for a swim and small things like that make me happy, or it could be just a distraction ?

Hopefully my small input can help someone, as other comments have helped me.

Great job Alexander. :)


Bea March 20, 2016 at 9:14 pm

Wow I typed in Google life has no meaning really and I’m not depressed and it brought me here
I’ve read many of the comments above which verge from the over confident to the sublime the only person that was realistic was Alexander “people need to set themselves goals to create a purpose” truth and fact because we have none otherwise the way we are owned and run now by our governments and laws makes us pointless we are only here to continue to be here anything else is just our own creative journey (whatever gets us through) sons of us manage it and most of us just exist , either is acceptable but one us more enjoyable than the other so we are encouraged to find that purpose for our own sakes …. It’s not depression it’s reality!


John March 21, 2016 at 3:52 pm

Life is extraordinarily complex but the one thing I know to be so simple and true is that your beliefs will shape your experience. I’ve been prone to despondency and I’ve felt the hopelessness and pointlessness that excessive thinking can do to to oneself. I take it with a grain of salt though, that is, I don’t really take it that seriously anymore. In fact, when I feel like I’m caught in a slump, I know someday in the future I will look back and find meaning and realized that I’ve grown through the experience. Anxiety and depression can be the catalyst for change and growth if you let them. If you believe that life has no meaning or purpose then that is all you will find. This experience is yours.


Corey March 28, 2016 at 10:52 am

hi myself


Chris March 30, 2016 at 1:16 pm

Why doesn’t someone somewhere invent something to put us all out of our misery? Nothing seems to be right for any of us. I cannot get on in life because I don’t know how to without money. As soon as I mention my lack of money I am on my own, no one is interested. If you have money you can make money, but if you don’t have any money you carn’t get hold of it. People are sick and tired of not been able to get on in life. Where I live people don’t want to do anything. (they have only just heard of the wheel) They don’t want to make the effort. Why? because they are like that. They want it all done for them. They want the easy option all the time. They don’t want to stop doing that which is hurting them. Thank you


SA April 17, 2016 at 8:01 pm

My life has had nothing to it
I lived for years looking for a meaning since I was 7
at 14 I understood that I was meant to make other people happy and entertain..
at 16 I tried to fulfill this, since then my country changed completly
people wont go out, only if they have to,
it is considered a harassment to talk to a stranger,
people are looking for their phones to be their lives..
this means for me – no real person to be in contact with.
after being raped for almost a year in an unwanted relationship, being cheated by my first good friend, being tossed around between relationships just trying to love,
I gave up, at 17.5, I had no sympathy for my life at all, i was already dead
then she came up, gave me a place to be home, someone to love who loves me, someone to break rules with (it was a forbidden relationship because of the most normal age difference in couples.. 5.5 years)
half a year as a friend, a listener, then a year and a half as lovers
i lived just for this love and it was clear for both of us
she couldnt handle it at some point, and started tearing apart
we broke up, it was said to be a long break until we can be legally together, and then she clarified she cant know if we’ll be together…
Its been 4 months im looking for someone to love
every minute brings me deeper into my grave
and i really dont know what to do anymore
i am injured and get no support, i cant work
art, which is in my soul.. doesnt appeal anymore
learning which was my hobby isnt at all fun now
the only hug i get is from a pillow
i have one friend who i share it all with
he gets depressed and distant..
my therapist knows im a lost cause without love…
a deep depression is a part of my personallity, clinical depressions built up on it, and eventually my heart is broken with no hope or belief in reality
theres nothing i can do but start hoping, but i cant, i try and its all lies


Mike Hunt April 25, 2016 at 2:46 pm

Alpha Kenny Body


Richard June 20, 2016 at 10:31 pm

Just want to explore an idea here with you all. I met an individual that has just blown me away with their talent, drive, kindness, understanding, and patience. To have so many qualities in one package made me really start to evaluate who I was, and the life I had been leading. Recovering from a failed relationship, I started taking music lessons with this individual as something to do that would help me work out what I needed to, music being an original passion of mine, and so different than what I do for a living (gov. software development), after about a year with this individual, I’ve recently given up smoking, walk 8 miles a day, have started to train for a marathon, and have become enthusiastic and driven at work. This teacher gives purpose and meaning to all those she touches, and in a nutshell, drives each one to be the best version of themselves. There is meaning and purpose here. Lessons have a goal of performing at recitals and form the structure and pathways of doing a job well done. I can’t seem to pinpoint exactly how this all works, which is why I’m sharing this. I don’t know. Being around a person who is excellent I suppose is rubbing off on me. I know that harnessing anger at myself for my own lack thereof helped me push beyond my self-imposed limitations and I’m now holding on to those wisps of inspiration, anger, admiration, etc. as driving forces to keep me going. Since I gave up smoking, sugar in my coffee, video games, TV, and took up light exercise, I find I have WAY too much energy and time than I know what to do with. I’m now asking the questions of what makes a life great, what is worth pursuing, where do I aim all this energy and time??? Self improvement is all well and good, but I believe what has really impacted me is that her excellence spreads to the lives around her, where as mine is only for myself, and without effecting anyone else, I feel empty and unsatisfied.


Gabby July 9, 2016 at 10:01 pm

Sure things can make you happy when you do something nice but eventually it wears off and “stuff” happens. Even if you DO do something and have a “purpose” it is not going to last long and even if you have one it is not going to make you happier because soon your purpose won’t have one anymore.


technology August 6, 2016 at 2:47 pm

Good response in return of this question with real arguments and explaining the
whole thing on the topic of that.


Cynthia August 13, 2016 at 7:53 am

So, I googled how to find meaning because I sucked and totally emberassed myself at open mic tonight; and I’ve been floundering around a lot trying to find a job and purpose for a while now. And also doing scary things like open mics. I’m not young like you all, and circumstances have kept my life in kind of an askew state so I’ve been trying a lot of things. I love what you wrote about having a story. It is a great analogy because no one wants to read a bunch of random words that have no story or structure, even if they are all really good words, and you can’t hope to write down a bunch of good words and hope they organize or magically form themselves into a good story. It’s hard when you feel you are maybe just not a good enough writer to ever make that happen. I love your post, and your responses to people, so, thanks!


Tami September 24, 2016 at 9:28 pm

I searched my whole life for meaning and never came up with any. It would appear that some of us only live to suffer and when the suffering eventually drains everything out of you.. and it will.. you come to let go of the quest for life and actually welcome death where you hope to finally rest.


Jamu October 4, 2016 at 3:34 pm

truth be told life in this world is pointless and meaningless all that people do is to try to give it meaning with their job’s, families, kids, photos so that others may envy them but the truth be told this people are often empty inside just that they try not to show it, there is no point to life just to suffer and eventually to die and move on thus the obsession with transhumanism and eugenics man is trying to compete with God as he did in the garden and eventually he will lose again and most probably this time forever.


Kyle October 9, 2016 at 7:40 pm


Thank you for taking the time to create something like this. For as long as I can remember I have been trying to find a reason for why nothing mattered to me. Your compiling of these both philosophical and psychological contributors has allowed your message created back in 2012 to still resonate with someone who finds it in 2016.

That is a true measure of how well thought out and composed the message was, and one worth of notice. I have no idea if attempting to implement these 4 points will help me, as I have up until this point not been able to answer the questions posed by the 4 points. But as I am not going anywhere might as well do something.

I just wanted to post this so you knew even today…your words and work have reached someone who appreciates it.


Alexander Heyne October 28, 2016 at 6:00 pm

Glad they helped Kyle :-)


Internet Denizen December 23, 2016 at 6:17 pm

Why? What to do when there’s no why whatsoever though…


brandon February 14, 2017 at 2:22 pm

I don’t know what to do anymore I can’t take it .


Mary February 23, 2017 at 4:29 pm

I was hoping going through this pages various links would spark something, but it just didn’t. What happens when you do have a passion, but the only way to make money at it is, is to do things that make you feel disgusting? I love electronic music, but hate the club culture that surrounds it. The shallowness, the hedonism and drugs, the self-important status seeking, and believe it or not occultists (another guy on here mentioned this, and it’s actually true that this stuff permeates the music industry). I probably could’ve made a career out of it if I really, really wanted to, but I knew I would feel disgusted, miserable and empty if I did.

I just don’t know what to do with myself. Everything seems pointless, and meaningless, even the things I kind of enjoy. I’m severely depressed, I’m on welfare, and I don’t want to do anything, except die. Medications don’t help, therapy hasn’t helped, self-help stuff doesn’t help, philosophy doesn’t help. Nothing makes this feeling go away.


Alexander Heyne March 23, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Hey Niki —

Hope it helps! Yeah just start doing things you actually enjoy. Things that actually take your mind off of life. Usually when we’re thinking, we’re unhappy. When we’re happy, we’re engrossed in the activity (in flow) and not thinking too much !

– Alex


Alexander Heyne May 8, 2013 at 9:39 am



Alexander Heyne June 17, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Hi “themostdismal” –

You say “life is just not a good thing” – unfortunately, that’s not a fact. That’s a thought, a belief about life, you’re own subjective analysis which clearly is making you miserable. You can always change your thoughts.

— Alex


themostdismal June 20, 2013 at 11:12 am

Mind you, I didn’t say that life is a bad thing. My position is that it is not a good thing. The burden of proof is on those that implicitly (by procreating) or explicitly make the case that it IS a good thing. It seems to me that at best it is a zero sum game.

How do you know someone can change his/her thoughts? WHO or WHAT is even doing the changing?

You say I’m miserable but how do you know that? Many people fear death and “bad surprises” in life. I don’t have any expectations at all and it isn’t clear to me that I’m any more or less miserable than anyone else.


Alexander Heyne January 13, 2015 at 1:58 pm

Hey Bogdan –

You are 100% right – you can set goals to distract yourself only so long. But then the deeper question settles in: what am I doing here?

Lemme ask you this: maybe you just need more service work – are you spending some time helping out other people who are worse off than you? I think it’ll help you appreciate life again.


Alexander Heyne January 13, 2015 at 2:00 pm

Bogdan – you’re right, and ultimately I can only talk from my experience. But in my opinion this is why thinking NOW about what we want – and building that career/job/business we care about, NOW – is so important. You’re 100% spot on when you say we can endure all the meaningless bullshit as we raise kids – but the goal is to before/during/whenever you find time build the life you WANT, around/with all that stuff.


Alexander Heyne November 30, 2015 at 6:14 pm

Alessia – what dream were you going after, and where are you now?


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