Meaning and Purpose?

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One of the most common questions I get asked, being an atheist, is: How do you find meaning and purpose in life?

I decided to dedicate a whole post to this question, seeing as it's a pretty big deal. The words "meaning" and "purpose" can make or break somebody. So let me lay it down in the best way I can.

I enjoy life. I love being able to wake up every day and make it whatever I want. The very fact that I am able to think and walk and talk is incredible. I think, as humans, we sometimes forget what living actually is. We are a masterpiece of evolution. We don't realize how amazing the simple little details of life are. Instead, we see it as a whole. But if you break it down into itty-bitty pieces and see exactly what it is you're doing (breathing, progressing, creating), there is so much more to be thankful for.

I do need to clarify something though. When I was transforming into my nonreligious self, I became very scared. It was like one day it all of the sudden hit me that I might not have an afterlife. It was a huge slap in the face. I went through some very dark months where I felt like everything was pointless. I was terrified. But this was a huge change for me, so of course I was going to be scared. Religion taught me to be scared. There was only one thing I could do, and that was to rebuild myself. So I did.

Meaning and purpose became a quest for me. Why do we live if we have nothing after death? This question used to haunt me. Now I find it kind of silly. We are here, living, so why should we worry about what happens next? This life should be taking all of our attention. There is so much to do, see, feel. The more I started thinking about that, the closer I got to my answer.. 

I believe that we create our own purpose.

That's the beauty of life. That's the beauty of the mind. We make of life whatever it is that we want. 

So you want to know how I find meaning without a higher power? I simply learn from myself. I listen to myself. I find the things that just seem right. These things don't feel right to me because of a god. They feel right because I care about the future of the world. We're all gonna die, and the life here will continue without us. Those people and the people after them will go through the same things we go through and also very different things. I want the future to be a happy place. Even though I won't be there in 100 years, I want those people to be happy. 

I guess the biggest change from leaving religious meaning to this new atheistic meaning, is becoming less selfish. My focus isn't to do good to be rewarded in an afterlife. It's to do good to reward the people who live on when I die.

9 comments:

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    1. Nate, thank you thank you thank you.

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  2. I always enjoy your posts. I don't like to label my beliefs, or lack thereof... I find that there are too many questions that I, and many others simply can't know about life. But when faced with the question of purpose, I always find my self taking a Humanist approach. This lovely statement from Kurt Vonnegut has really stuck with me:

    ❝ I am a humanist, which means, in part, that I have tried to behave decently without expectations of rewards or punishments after I am dead. ❞

    Life shouldn't be about preparing for an after-life. It should be about caring for each other, animals, our planet, and the universe right now. Being the best we can be.

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    1. That quote is beautiful. My thoughts exactly. Humanism is something not very many people are fully aware of, which is sad. We're humans afterall..

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  3. I love this. The most inspiring thing about many RELIGIOUS people is the reason they have for sticking with it. They cite faith and the purpose given to them by religion as the crucial purpose of God in a way! (Though they may not see a logical conflict as I kind of do.) But people can do this clearly without God. A benefit in contrast, is it's explicitly saying something about who YOU are, and about humanity.

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    1. Taylor, you are absolutely right. It's almost like their purpose of having God in their life is to actually find their purpose. Purpose within a purpose. Inception? Ha. But yes, it definitely says so much about a person and their desire for humanity. I miss you, friend.

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  4. I definitely know that dark period when you have questioned everything that you've ever known about life and meaning and go to nothing. Obviously I have come to a different outcome, but when I had no belief, I was terrified. I didn't know what to do. I started drinking and that didn't help my quest. But after I decided to study other beliefs, I created myself. I found a quote that George Bernard Shaw said, "Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." Religious or not, people should know that.
    When I journeyed back to the LDS church, it wasn't because I was running back to it or just reluctantly returning, it's because I believe it. But with returning, I had a whole new outlook on things. There are a lot of people that disagree with my views on some aspects, such as I believe in equal rights and so homosexuals should be able to get married. Or I believe that marijuana should be legalized. I like tattoos.
    Anyway, I love you Adri. You are one of the kindest people I know and I love you the way you are. You are so much braver than I ever was and it makes me happy to see you happy. People think if you leave the church, it's like you're turning into a deviant person that is only going to do bad, which is definitely not true. You're living proof of a good human being. Keep being the cool person you are lol :)

    Heart your face!

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    1. Life totally is about creating yourself. Its so inspirational itself, being alive. Thank you for always being so sweet to me. You are one of the coolest mormons I know, and I appreciate you my dear. :)

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    2. Life totally is about creating yourself. Its so inspirational itself, being alive. Thank you for always being so sweet to me. You are one of the coolest mormons I know, and I appreciate you my dear. :)

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