When you think of deep, philosophical questions, the one that is probably the most quintessential is “What is the meaning of life?” At the very least, we want to know what makes our own lives meaningful or have purpose. While religious institutions have for centuries tried to provide the structure to give answer to that question, it seems like it is not working for many people today, given the drop-out rate in the US, not to mention the secularization of many other modern nations. There have been plenty of spiritualist movements that you can point to that do the same. Heck, even Ancient Aliens is really about that as well with its mix of “science”, “history”, Theosophy, and New Agerism.
On the other hand, science is often considered to be separate from values, so it’s hard to say in any way that science could tell us what is the purpose of our existence. That’s not correct from the research I have seen because science can tell us what does and doesn’t work towards living a fulfilling life. And fortunately, that academic study isn’t tucked away in a corner. Recently Gleb Tsipursky at Ohio State (who I have met and conversed with) has done a lot of work to do research-based workshops on helping people find that elusive sense of purpose. He now has a book to do the same, and I was fortunate to get a copy earlier. I like its approach since it also follows my own educational philosophies, and it is clearly following the consensus of the best knowledge we currently have on what makes people happy and fulfilled. That includes forms of meditation, though you hardly need to be a Buddhist to do it.
The book, Find Your Purpose Using Science, was crowd-supported and now up on Amazon, and for the next few days it’s free for Kindle/digital download. I found the book interesting in its use of not just scientific research but also some insights from how the Soviet nations were able to find meaning even though my own image of the communist regime is covered in the bleakest of greys. The book also not dryly written nor is it filled with platitudes. If you have a copy, compare it to Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Drive Life and see how different Gleb’s approach is and how more universal and useful it should be. (Of course, I would also recommend Robert M. Price’s response to Warren’s book, The Reason Driven Life).
The free book offer is only for a few days, but even after it should be worth the price. While I would claim that my life feels meaningful right now, I think I can use the exercises in there to get even more out of life. Why not?
Then again, you could get the answer to it all at the end of Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life
Then again, know your place in the world
Thanks again, Gleb, for the copy of the book. I hoping to make my personal insights a little more intentional. ;)