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Life is simply a term that distinguishes animate from inanimate beings. In general, a being is considered alive if it is capable of taking in nourishment and responding to stimuli. 

A meaning is properly a characteristic of words, not of beings, and thus one cannot accurately speak of lives having "meaning;" this is a category mistake in popular usage.

Many religious, philosophical, and scientific systems seek to find purpose in the lives of individuals and species. While some scientists would argue that trying to attribute purpose to the existence of living beings is a mistake, others would argue that "God does not play dice with the universe" and that our existence and purpose are not random.

Evolutionary biologists argue that the purpose of the individual is to propagate the species. Most religions believe living beings exist to fulfill divine will. Some philosophical systems such as Existentialism argue that each person must find his or her own purpose in life via a process of self-reflection and personal commitment.  

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There's no right answer to this question.  It depends on who you ask.  It is somewhat individual based, but I would posit that the meaning of life is more group based.  Specifically, religiously and "ism" orientated.  

For example, the meaning of life to Christians is love.  That sounds trendy and lame, but it is supported through Biblical scripture.  The new testament summarizes God's law by saying that man's (people/believers) goal is to love God above all else and love your neighbor as yourself.  

The meaning of life for a different group of people can be boiled down to "isms."  I can't possibly list all of them, but I'll go for a few.  

Materialism -- To a materialist, the meaning of life is squarely focused on gaining and obtaining material possessions.  To this person, true happiness and meaning is found through owning stuff.  He who dies with the most toys . . . wins.  

Hedonism -- A hedonist's meaning of life is in finding pleasure. Whatever feels good, do it.  Nike's slogan nicely relates to this philosophy on the meaning of life.  "Just Do It."  

Existentialism -- This one says that reality is meaningless.  There isn't an afterlife either.  It's concerned with the here and the now.  Abraham Maslow has a pyramid that ties in with this philosophy.  The pinnacle of it is "self-actualization."  

"the desire for self-fulfillment, namely the tendency for him [the individual] to become actualized in what he is potentially."

While the above may seem confusing, it emphasizes an aspect of carpe diem.  The meaning of life to an existentialist is to reach their full potential and to do so sooner rather than later.  Why wait?  Seize the day.   

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There are many forms of life on just this one planet.  However, I will assume you mean human life.  The answer to that question is subjective.  It is personalized by each and every human being.  That being said, I will attempt to share with you what is my concept of the meaning of life.

First, you must understand that I have a spiritual concept to life.  I believe that there is an energy that is larger than my mere physical being.  The energy that inhabits this human shell is my life.  It is like water flowing through pipes, or electricity moving through wires; once it is free from the physical constraints that channel it, it reunites with its larger nature. That being said I have an opportunity to use that energy to power my body and be able to absorb all the sensations available here on Earth.

I can use it to love or hate.  I can learn to channel it for good or evil.  I can ignore it and simply go through the motions of "living" until that energy ceases to fuel this body.  

I choose to live my life in service to others.  That is why I am attempting to provide you with an answer to your question.  I choose to channel my energy in a positive way.  For example, I try to choose the path that will have a beneficial outcome.  I choose to seek solutions to problems vs. complaining about them.  

I have used this body to procreate that was not necessarily the meaning for my life.  Had I not done so, it would not have made my life any less meaningful.  I would still be able to use this body, and its senses, to appreciate and interact with other life in a positive way and on a variety of levels.  

As I stated before, the meaning of life is subjective.  I can only hope that you appreciate the fact that you are alive.  I hope that you use that life in a positive way.

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A simple question like this lies at the end, not the beginning, of our inquiry into giving value to mental and emotional effort.  On the surface, this question is merely a grammatical construction, called an interrogative sentence; the words themselves as signifiers are vague—what do we “mean” by “meaning”?  The written definition of “life” is three inches long in the dictionary.  Even the word “what” is open to interpretation.  To the religious inquirer, the question can be rephrased: “Why did God create life, and especially, human life?”  In Catechism, this questioned is stated: “Who made you? God made you.  Why did God make you? To love, honor, and obey Him.”  The philosopher who wants to address this question has to begin with the assumption that “essence precedes existence,” that there is a “plan” in which life has a vital part.  Scientists (anthropologists, physicists, physiologists) can define "life" and “explain” how life began, but not “why.”  The very word “why” presumes a plan with a cause-effect mechanism, a goal.  The Existentialist claims there is no such plan, that “existence precedes essence.”  On the human, day-to-day level, you give your own life “meaning” by entering the complex “hubbub” of human society with a thought-out (and felt-out) set of principles and goals and values.  “What is the meaning of Life?”  Give it a meaning, your meaning.

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As you can imagine, you will not get the same answer from everyone. Here is how I think about the situation. Ecclesiastes 3:11 states that eternity is in our heart. The idea is that there is something deep in our heart and nothing in the world can satisfy it. If you think about it, it does make some sense. No matter what you achieve, accomplish or have, you still want more. Often times, after some great achievement, you say to yourself, "is that all?" There is a gnawing feeling that there must be something more. I think that this is the point that the book of Ecclesiastes is talking about. This is why the book states that everything is meaningless.

In light of this point, it is important to look for meaning in other things. In my opinion, it should be something otherworldly, something transcendent, because human hearts are restless with the best of this world. The vast majority of people in this world find meaning in belief in God.



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You could get as many answers about this as the number of people you ask.  A religious person would tell you the purpose of life is to know "god" of whatever type, gender or number he or she believes in; a hedonist would say to enjoy yourself to the utmost; a materialist would tell you to amass all you can.  The old saw "know thyself" is probably as good as anything.

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