There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest — whether the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories — comes afterward. These are games; one must first answer. –Albert Camus, An Absurd Reasoning
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. — Thoreau
Struggling to find meaning and purpose in life is the essential work of living and I admire you having the courage in challenging others to help you find an answer. We did not give birth to ourselves, something else did, and we have been given the gift of consciousness along with that act of creation.
I am very much of the opinion that psychology’s history has been mostly helping people to find relief from pain. While that is good, it has not been focused on helping people thrive and develop a sense of well-being. This has changed. In the last 15 years there has been a tremendous push to add to our meaning purpose and achievement in life.
One of the chief architects of this shift is a former president of the American Psychological Association, Martin Seligman. He has put the issue squarely in front of us: “I believe psychology has done very well in working out how to understand and treat disease. But I think that is literally half-baked. If all you do is work to fix problems, to alleviate suffering, then by definition you are working to get people to zero, to neutral. What I’m saying is, Why not try to get them to plus-two, or plus-three?”
He has outlined the format for this change in his book Flourish and I highly recommend you read it. It has initiated perhaps the most widely researched and discussed approach to developing the good life, with a significant emphasis on meaning. While space limitations prevent me from elaborating on his theory and approach, I can say it is one of the more comprehensive perspectives being offered. If you are looking to dive into the more academic components of meaning one of the leaders in the field, Todd Kashdan can provide you with a wealth of information about creating a more meaningful life.
But along the way the words of the Dalai Lama may be helpful to keep in mind:
This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.