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Mama_Cakes's avatar

You don't believe in a higher power, so now what (for you, what gives your life meaning)

Asked by Mama_Cakes (11085points) October 29th, 2013
47 responses
“Great Question” (7points)

As asked.

I’m really struggling with personal stuff now. Doing a hell of a lot of questioning.

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livelaughlove21's avatar

I’m constantly questioning. Whether I believe or not tends to vary over periods of time. Agnosticism suits me.

I don’t really buy into the “meaning of life” thing. I just want to be happy, make enough money to support myself with a little extra, love my husband and my animals, and have some fun every now and then. I live in the present. I don’t murder people or cheat – not because the Bible says I shouldn’t, but because it goes against my own personal set of values. Not believing in a higher power does not mean you have no moral code.

Why does there have to be a “meaning” to it all? Just live. That’s what we’re all here to do.

Pachy's avatar

When asked this question I always quote Woody Allen’s character Issac Davis in the film “Manhattan” who, in a wonderful little monologue, lists some of the things that he considers worth living for:

Why is life worth living? It’s a very good question. Um… Well, There are certain things I guess that make it worthwhile. uh… Like what… okay… um… For me, uh… ooh… I would say… what, Groucho Marx, to name one thing… uh… um… and Wilie Mays… and um… the 2nd movement of the Jupiter Symphony… and um… Louis Armstrong, recording of Potato Head Blues… um… Swedish movies, naturally… Sentimental Education by Flaubert… uh… Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra… um… those incredible Apples and Pears by Cezanne… uh… the crabs at Sam Wo’s… uh… Tracy’s face…

I love some of the same things Issac does plus enough others to make my own life thoroughly worth living.

elbanditoroso's avatar

To me, what give my life meaning

- waking up in the morning
– seeing trees and greenery
– hugging my kid and grandkids
– feeling like I have accomplished something today
– losing myself in a good symphony

Neodarwinian's avatar

My life itself.

Why look beyond to more than the overwhelming beauty of reality?

Though religious in intent, thus delusional, this little piece of the whole makes life worth living.

Mama_Cakes's avatar

Appreciate your answers.

CWOTUS's avatar

“Meaning” ... ugh. What does that mean in the context of living one’s life?

I enjoy a lot of earthly and earthy things. I’m not going to get vulgar and name bodily functions, but I like a lot of them – even some that you may not expect, I think. I like those. I enjoy my body, and interacting with other people in their bodies – even when I just see them, hear them and sense them in other ways. So that’s one thing. Some times, in some possibly “perverse” ways I even enjoy pain and frustration, and working through those things to achieve goals.

I also like “life itself” in many forms. From my dorg – and others’ dogs and cats and other animal companions – to spiders and bees and even bacteria. I like my compost pile. I like rain. I like playing with ropes and sails and moving on the water. I like learning. I like ordering data and mixing numbers in ways that make organizational life better for the organisms and organizations that I like to see prosper.

I like to see my kids do well and enjoy their own lives and further their own interests. I like the way their success makes others do well and feel better than they would if my kids hadn’t been around. I like having had a part in that.

I like giving advice, and sometimes I even like getting it. I’m absolutely thrilled when I think of new things – even if not “new to the world”, but “new to me”. I like learning things and creating things.

Why does my life need “meaning” if I enjoy it so much? My life has no real “meaning”; it doesn’t need to justify itself to anyone.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Mama_Cakes I’ve been the course with this. I had faith when I was young. Then I learned to question things and later got the crap kicked out of me by life. I lost my faith completely. I was a total nonbeliever. Then as I’ve gone along lately, I’ve experienced some real amazing things. I’ve been on the receiving end of lots of prayers and thoughts. So I don’t know right now. I’m thinking of the letter, “Yes, Veronica, there is a Santa Claus.” I don’t give a crap if anyone ridicules that idea, if they do, I totally disrespect them. It’s what I’m thinking right now. If they don’t like it too bad.

Seek's avatar

I feel more meaningful now than I did before, actually.

In my religious days, I was pretty much marking time until my future husband showed up to ask my stepfather and my pastor if he could have me, and then, eventually, die and hopefully go to heaven. That’s really all I had to look forward to. Domestic slavery and death.

Now, I make my own meaning. I look for things that make me happy. I pursue creative interests, go to rock concerts, learn about space and evolution and spaghettification (what would happen to your body if you could fall into a black hole)

I can explore life with my son, laying on the hood of the car late at night with Google Skymap, trying to find Betelgeuse, and making ant farms in old jelly jars, and practicing riding without training wheels.

Oddly enough, as a Christian I always said I wanted a lot of children, but I wasn’t really excited about bringing kids into a sinful world do they could wait for the Rapture with me.

Now, I really appreciate my child, and truly look forward to learning new things with him every day.

Seek (34800points)“Great Answer” (16points)
Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr GA. I totally get that.

OneBadApple's avatar

So nobody is going to even mention genuine New York pizza ??

Jesus, Mary and Joseph….where are yooz peoples’ priorities ?

Berserker's avatar

I do what I can to be happy. No real deep meaning that I found, or that I’m aware of. Since I believe Darwin was right, (opinion yall) I’m not sure there is even any real meaning that we can subscribe to the human mind and how it emotionally defines things. But whatever, I’m just happy fucking shit up being alive.

Seek's avatar

I haven’t had real pizza since before I became religious. That’s like two lifetimes ago. Sigh.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@OneBadApple There is a New York Pizzeria in Cooperstown and Richfield Springs. Heaven on a crust.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Want me to see if they can deliver one?
Edit. Screw that. Several would be the way to go.

Aethelwine's avatar

I’ve never believed in a higher power. I’ve only believed in treating others the way I’d like them to treat me.

So now what?...

I help those who need help.

Coloma's avatar

Nature, my pets, my daughter, humor, my freedom.
My freedom has taken a hit this year, I am currently controlled financially after years of financial freedom. Working on the huge ego hit of having to be an economic slave again, but….I WILL find my way back to ultimate freedom. Yes I will.

Seek's avatar

Oh, I’ve had plenty of new York STYLE pies. And they’re yummy. Just not corner-of-Main-and-Clarke yummy. I think it’s the water.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

This one is special. It’s in the top ten percent that you only find every so often. Most pizzerias are mediocre. Not this one.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Mama_Cakes Sorry for derailing your thread lady. But this is one of my reasons for going on. The search for good pizza is like the search for the Holy Grail

Aethelwine's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe you need to visit Chicago for good pizza. just sayin’.

tinyfaery's avatar

Anything you want. Your life is for you to define. Worship cats and fluffy bunnies. Believe in a giant candy store as your heaven.

Being good to other beings that have no voice is, IMO, one of the best things one can do with a life. You’ll find yours.

LornaLove's avatar

Life has so much meaning. Past experiences, current loves and relationships. Family, friends, education, interests hobbies. Deciding who you are, who you are not. Your history your present and also your dreamed for future. If it is peace you seek or something bigger than yourself I guess you will find it in time. Sometimes in giving it away to others you find it again.

glacial's avatar

I’m never sure what people mean when they ask about what “meaning” life has. My life has the same meaning for me now that it did when I was religious. No meaning has been lost since I stopped believing in god. I don’t need external validation by a higher power in order to want to wake up in the morning, have breakfast and coffee, brush my teeth, bike to school, learn a ton of crazy, interesting things about the world around me (whose beauty I can fully appreciate without thinking it was created by a single, magical person), bike home again, have dinner, read or laugh at a tv show, and fall asleep again. It is the same life that I had before, at least in terms of quality, if not in terms of the actual events.

I imagine (and I don’t know if this is what you’re asking about) that it can be scary to think of losing a powerful, loving friend or parent figure who you are used to always looking out for you. I used to think of god in similar terms, but I think that by the time I gave up religion, I had stopped thinking of him that way. The thing is, once I realized that I no longer believed he was there, I realized that he was never there before, either. And that just like every other person on the planet, I had made my way through life on my own wit and strength. My choices were and are my own, and I get to take all the credit and all the responsibility for them. This is way better than the alternative. I think it has the potential to give life more meaning (whatever that means) than just believing that something outside of ourselves is guiding the whole process. Your life has whatever meaning you choose to give it.

ETpro's avatar

If I needed something I can see, feel, hear, touch, or even find any evidence s/he/ or it exists to give my life meaning, well it wouldn’t have much meaning.

My family gives my life meaning. Love. Beauty. Art. Great music. Books. The thoughts of the world’s greatest minds. The fall leaves here in Massachusetts. The Sox being up 3 games to 2 in the World Series. Building a great looking website for a client and hearing them thank me when it takes of like gangbusters. Expanding my own meager understanding of the world and how it all works gives my life meaning. Getting far away from the city lights, and looking at the Milky Way, contemplating the enormity of the Universe and all that is in it. That feeling of grandeur that theists get when they feel what they think is the presence of God is exactly the same feeling I get contemplating the heavens. I know, because I’ve experienced both.

Sunny2's avatar

First, my relationships with everyone I know and care for. Second, my relationship with music. 3. my enjoyment of food (and no, I’m NOT overweight.) 4. Enjoyment of memories of what I consider to be a rather extraordinary life, which I never expected to have. 5. the new acquaintances I meet frequently. 6.The everyday experience with the natural world around me, be it pigeons, ginko trees, clouds or rain. There’s always something going on which reminds me how lucky I am to have the life I have, catastrophes and all.

Haleth's avatar

The natural world, relationships with other people, creating new things, and trying to learn as much as I can before I die.

It sounds kind of dry when you put it in a list like that, but those four things are a source of endless beauty and meaning. There are so many things I want to know about that there’s literally no way to get through them all in one lifetime, but it’s worth trying. And then life sometimes takes you by surprise with moments of unexpected joy. You can also work to make the world a better place for other people, or to teach insights that you’ve picked up over time.

@Mama_cakes Have you ever read “Leaves of Grass?” One of the big themes underlying themes there is finding meaning in secular life. Walt Whitman’s narrator feels empathy for people from every walk of life, even if they seem to have nothing in common, and even if their lives are small, humble, or tragic. He has a big, roving imagination and sort of becomes part of the natural world. It’s like he’s rejoicing in everyday life, from the small, mundane parts to the big, sweeping moments. “Leaves of Grass” is one of my favorite comfort reads and I think you would love it.

AdamF's avatar

I’m lucky to be alive and belong to a species which can even ask questions regarding purpose. I’m even more lucky that I was raised by good parents, in one of the wealthy parts of the world, so I could grow into an empathetic person with a lot of options regarding what I do with my life.

The end result being, the purpose I give my life can be anything I chose to give it. So for me, my purpose is to live this short life as fully as possible, by loving, experiencing, learning and creating as much as possible, and ideally being able to look back and find that I left things in a better condition than I found them.

Frankly, I’ve never understood how belief, and often subservience, to an all powerful being adds anything positive to that picture. I especially do not understand how an externally imposed purpose would be in any way considered a preferred option.

MadMadMax's avatar


I have no fear of offending any gods and ending up being tortured for eternity.

the Process of Living and my family gives my life meaning

kritiper's avatar

Everything gives life meaning. I don’t need some “higher power.” If fact, the absence of a “higher power” has given my life plenty of truthful meaning.

Rarebear's avatar

This may not make you feel any better. So don’t read this. But I’m going to post it anyway.

Life has no “meaning”. I am a tiny life form on a tiny planet, in a remote arm of a random galaxy at one corner of the known universe. And the fact that I can even write that statement is simply remarkable to me. I see beauty in the organization of the world and the simple random chance of my own existence. I get “meaning” from just being a decent but fallible person. I love the fact that I can see a the structure of a leaf and understand the fractal forms. I love the fact that I can see exactly the same forms in the geography of a river delta or a snowflake. I love the fact that beer foam has similar energy characteristics as a honeycomb of a beehive. And I love the fact that I can see beauty in a random star cluster or a nebula.

God is a crutch. I don’t need God to enjoy life, to appreciate the Bubble Nebula, or to taste a great beer. I love the fact that my avatar, currently a swallow, is related evolutionary to a T. Rex. That’s just fucking cool to me. It’s WAY cooler than, say, “God made it.” That’s a cop-out.

But as to my life having “meaning?” No. I’m just here and conscious and typing this past my bedtime by pure dumb luck. And I’m grateful for it.

Valerie111's avatar

Love gives my life meaning. The love I have for my family ( especially my mom,) my boyfriend, my dog.

Smitha's avatar

I realized that there is a meaning and purpose in my life after I became a mother.I feel so happy staying home with my daughter, and raising her.That’s what gives me a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment When I hear her talking, or do something new, and know it’s because I taught her that, it’s one of the most amazing feeelings! You really don’t know about life until you have given life.

augustlan's avatar

Your life is yours to make meaningful however you like. For me, it’s all about love – giving and receiving it – and not just in the romantic or familial sense. Compassion, empathy, kindness and goodwill are all facets of love. To me, smiling at (or being smiled at by) a stranger is an act of love and so is picking up a piece of litter off the ground, if you see what I mean. Mostly, I just focus on making my little corner of the world a better place, with love.

downtide's avatar

Being as happy as you can be, between the moments of birth and death. The only meaning that life has, is what you choose to do with it.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I find meaning in various activities that I try to fill my life with. I’m wildly passionate about theatre and act and direct in a community theatre group. I write two blogs, one about bipolar disorder and one of ephemera. I read a great deal. I have children and am interested in their lives.

I don’t find a higher power necessary to complete me.

hearkat's avatar

For me the meaning of life is living it – experiencing life and all the good and bad that comes with it. I am an agnostic and generally non-theistic as I find it difficult to imagine a sentient being is micromanaging bazillions of creatures’ daily lives. However, I do have a sense that there is some power or force beyond what we can physically experience. As such, I recognize that all the material luxuries are shallow, and ‘you can’t take it with you’, so instead I focus on relationships. I figure that if there is any sort of life after this body gives out on me, the only thing I’ll be able to bring with me is Love, and the greatest legacy one can leave behind is Love. That has led me to consider that the ‘higher power’ is Love.

LuckyGuy's avatar

This is the only life you have so it is up to you to make it as loving and happy as it can be.
Do not expect someone else to do it for you. You are responsible for your own actions. Live, laugh, love – and help others along the way.

GoldieAV16's avatar

The meaning of my life is to value life. I don’t spend a lot of time questioning it, because I just trust that there is a lot I’ll never know. That adds to the delight and mystery and awe of it all.

I live each day trying to show my reverence for life: Human, animal, plant. All living things – including myself. :-)

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr “Oddly enough, as a Christian I always said I wanted a lot of children, but I wasn’t really excited about bringing kids into a sinful world do they could wait for the Rapture with me.”

That sounds oddly familiar to me, I feel much the same.

Mama_Cakes's avatar

“Being good to other beings that have no voice is, IMO, one of the best things one can do with a life. You’ll find yours.”

@tinyfaery does that include children and the elderly? Not just animals.

janbb's avatar

Frodo, Colin, David, Simon, Jake, Jay, Karin, Marina, Robin, Judy,,,and a few others.

Reading and talking about good books.

Teaching literature as a way of exploring issues and personal lives; a way of connecting to others.

Helping someone with their research and getting a high five.

Leading a good hike for my walking group.

Gaining a sense of competence in a watercolor painting session.

Cooking meals for friends and family.

Since I was about 6, I have never felt the need for a belief in a higher power, but looking at my list, I guess intimate connections are what gives my life the most meaning.

Jeruba's avatar

I don’t think it does have meaning, not meaning beyond what I give it here and now and what it means to others both now and later. It just is. None of this depends on any notion of a supreme being or higher power.

Some of those to whom my life has meaning I can name because we have a relationship and their lives are dear to me as well. But there are always some we don’t know and never will. Whatever meaning our lives have to them is beyond our knowledge and control. That doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

When we hear of the death of someone at the outer fringes of our extended network—say, the parent of a childhood friend we haven’t seen since grade school, or the nameless old lady from a nearby neighborhood whom we used to see walking her dog—and we recognize that this loss touches us, we see how our absence may touch others that we barely know.

How much they regret our eventual absence depends entirely on how we conduct our presence.

thorninmud's avatar

It’s very simple: the meaning reveals itself moment-by-moment. There’s no need at all to cook up some story about it. If you’re having a cup of tea, the meaning is in the heat and the bitter edge of that cup of tea. If you’re talking to your love, the meaning is in the sound of her laugh and the tilt of her head.

We’re constantly overlooking the meaning of our lives while we search for some grand, hidden secret.

Skylight's avatar

People say they don’t understand what life means, yet still they think they know enough to judge, to fear, to limit and to denigrate it. They still think they know enough to justify feelings of sorrow and depression. They think they know enough to suffer convictions of lack and loss.

Unbeknownst to them, they seek to as though occupy the same space with two forms of phenomena. Its a mind game, a riddle. The meaning they have GIVEN to life is a negative projection consisting of negative convictions and a vacuum that needs filling. When we give meaning, how can we at the same time look for it?

What they really mean is they don’t know how to step outside of the dream they inhabit created by those who came before so they can be fresh,occupy their own lives in their own time, and become exhilarated in that intimate, unique connection. They can be that new book opened for the first time, unburdened by leftovers and stifling perceptions of realty

You don’t have to know the meaning of life. You ARE the meaning in your life. You are the nucleus around which your entire life whips like ribbons around a maypole in fresh winds. You are meant to make the rules in your life, draw the boundaries, follow your heart into the clearing fashioned after your own image in the wilderness.

You will never find another’s meaning in life. You will never be content if you think you have.

Therefore, you have to take intervals wherein you forget everything you’ve ever been told. Lose the ropes the chains, the directional signs, the do’s, don’ts, rights & wrongs., the labels and the ‘meaning’s you’re SUPPOSED to find, and just sit in silence, as if you’ve just been lowered from a spaceship into a new world, a world seen for the first time on YOUR terms.

Be like that child you were, before you were programmed and prodded into fitting into a very stilted society and had the joy of who you are strangled out of you by sleeping minds.

To find meaning, you have to take your life back. You have to let yourself be enough and allow the meanings to flow out of you like a silken strand of smoke from incense.

There is only original meaning. Anything else is leftovers wrapped in an aluminum swan.

Meaning in life is a living, changeable reflection of you. It isn’t some mountain you beat your head against.

Let go. Get the pressure off your own back and well, there you are…..and guess what? That is the meaning in that moment, and it is YOUR meaning….It is YOUR art form, your touch upon this canvas. There is no more sacred beginning than that. Free yourself and meaning will flow out of you. Its the most effortless thing you can do… yourself. Your teacher is within you.

You’re BEING meaning right now. If you want to BE more meaning, close your eyes, go inside and listen to the ancient, golden melody that contains all wisdom and love.

Just give yourself a break. Laugh, you’re okay, right now in this moment.

Blackberry's avatar

Why does there have to be meaning?

jlk2525's avatar

The little things in life. Being grateful for the relationship I have with animals, nature and the people in my life. I may not believe in a higher power but my meaning of life is to give my life meaning. Doing as little harm to the world as I can whilst I am here and contributing positively.

jlk2525's avatar

The meaning of my life is to give my life meaning. To get as much as I can out of each day, see as much of the world as possible and do everything that fulfils me.

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