Finding a meaning in life
by: John Tyrrell
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Over the years, I and others have written on this site several times* on the meaning of life for a non-believer. Generally, it has been my position that it is up to you to determine your meaning in life or your purpose for yourself. However, with the exception of the concluding element of Meditation 311, I've been rather short on advice on how to determine your own meaning.
Dr. Gleb Tsipursky of Ohio State University has come to the rescue with his inexpensive little book, Find Your Purpose Using Science, available on Amazon in a Kindle version.
I'd quibble about the title. I personally don't see what Tsipursky is doing here as "using science" except in the broadest possible sense of the word science. But what he is offering is a structured approach which has been shown to achieve results over the years that he has been offering workshops.
Now this is not a book you can just read and come away with a purpose in life. Rather it is a workbook - with exercises which, if you take them seriously and put the time and effort in, should lead you to better self-knowledge and the ability to use that to give your life meaning. But your time and effort are essential, so be prepared if you want results. The book itself can be read in an hour or two, but if you are going to benefit, be prepared to spend many hours on the exercises.
I'll be honest - I did not work on those exercises. My approach to the book was whether I thought it could benefit others searching for a purpose, and not to find a purpose for myself. While I like to think there is meaning in my life, I have not felt a deep need to identify precisely what that meaning is and to arrange my life accordingly.
Tsipursky writes in discussing his book on Amazon:
Have you ever felt like there's an emptiness deep in the pit of your stomach and you just can't make it go away, no matter what you do? I remember feeling it myself when I was growing up, as I struggled with gaining a sense of life meaning and purpose. I still shudder when I remember experiencing the sense of meaninglessness as that void in my stomach.
I've never felt like that about meaning and purpose in life. Not even close to that. Perhaps if I had felt that way forty, fifty or even sixty years ago and had been motivated to find an answer, I'd be a a very different person today. But - I'd have to have been a very different person years ago too.
If you have some degree of that sense of meaninglessness in your life that Dr. Tsipursky refers to, then I'd suggest his book might be for you. And the cost ($2.99) is not going to break the bank. But if you are more like me, then you are probably not going to benefit.
* Some Writings on the Meaning of Life
Ask the Patriarch 42: Yet Another School Project
Meditation 311: The Purpose-Driven® Life
Meditation 1039 The Purpose of the Purpose of Life
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