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What Is the Point of Life? The Theories, Paradoxes & Secrets to Find Meaning

What is the point of life? Everyone has asked that question from time to time. And it’s not easy to answer, but we’re going to try the best we can.

what is the point of life

Have you ever stared at the sky and thought, “What’s the point of life? Seriously, what’s the deal, Universe?” You’re not alone. It’s like the universe is playing this grand, elaborate joke, and we’re still waiting for the punchline.

Welcome to the exploration of the Big Cosmic Joke and the age-old query—what is the point of life?

Strap in, because we’re diving deep into this existential quandary through the comforting, sometimes perplexing lens of psychology. Because, let’s be honest, if anyone needs therapy, it’s the cosmos.

The Existential Framework

So, you’ve heard of existentialism, right? Maybe in a philosophy class that you barely stayed awake through or as a buzzword at a hipster coffee shop. [Read: 41 Rules of life to never be unhappy and be the one who screams “I love my life”]

Either way, when it comes to asking what is the point of life, existentialism is the cool older cousin who’s been there, done that, and even has a vintage T-shirt to prove it.

In simple terms, existentialism zeroes in on individual freedom, choice, and, yep, finding your life’s purpose.

Now, let’s talk about Viktor Frankl, a name that even your Psych 101 textbook would high-five. He survived the Holocaust and went on to write the classic “Man’s Search for Meaning.” [Read: 50 Secrets t to get your shit together when you’re really stuck in life]

In it, he introduces Logotherapy, which is all about finding meaning in life’s challenges. And no, Logotherapy is not therapy for lumberjacks—although that could be an interesting twist, don’t you think?

Frankl argues that even in the bleakest circumstances, people can find a sense of purpose by focusing on what gives life meaning.

So, the next time you’re scrolling through social media, feeling like everyone else has it figured out, remember: You’re on your own unique journey to find what adds value and significance to your existence. [Read: 57 Simple life questions to get to know yourself and truths to visualize your future]

The Big Theories and Paradoxes that Ponder ‘What is the Point of Life’

If you’ve been awake during a late-night existential pondering session, you’ve probably wrestled with this enigma.

You’re not alone. The question has been haunting humans ever since the first philosopher gazed at the stars and thought, “Wait, what?”

Fortunately, some of the greatest minds in history have teamed up—not Avengers-style, but close—to tackle this question head-on, providing us with theories and paradoxes that help us make sense of it all.

1. The Meaning-Making Machines

Okay, humans are kinda like smartphones but for emotions. We’re built to process data and spit out meaning, just like our phones turn pixels into Instagrammable brunch pics. This is what psychologists call the “meaning-making theory.”

So, when you’re wondering what is the point of life, remember that even asking the question means you’re doing what you’re wired to do: seeking meaning. Our brains are literally constructed to turn chaos into clarity. [Read: How to find your meaning when your life feels meaningless]

2. Choose Your Own Adventure: Self-Determination Theory

Imagine life as a video game—let’s say, Animal Crossing. You decide what to plant, who to talk to, and how to decorate your island.

That’s Self-Determination Theory in a nutshell: autonomy *you choose*, competence *you get better*, and relatedness *you’re not alone. Your island—uh, life—is what you make of it.

So, to answer the question, “What is the point of life?” Well, you’re the game developer, and the code is written in choices and connections.

3. The YOLO Paradox: Terror Management Theory

YOLO—You Only Live Once, and yet, contemplating that “once” can be quite the buzzkill. But according to Terror Management Theory, our awareness of mortality actually pushes us to make life meaningful.

So, the next time you have an existential crisis while scrolling through TikTok, remember: You’re mortal, and that’s your ticket to live with purpose.

Knowing our time is finite adds a certain “spice” to our lives. It’s like an alarm clock for the soul, pushing us to take risks and chase dreams, however big or small.

When you’re watching a three-minute viral video and suddenly hit with the realization that you’re mortal, you’re more likely to go out and actually do something that counts—like call your mom, mend a broken friendship, or even switch careers.

You realize you don’t have infinite “tomorrows,” and this urgency nudges you to confront the question, “What is the point of life?” in real-time. [Read: YOLO – what it means and 23 secrets to live life like you only live once]

Essentially, it transforms your daily routine from a series of automated tasks into a canvas where you’re motivated to paint strokes of meaning.

4. Chasing Rainbows: The Hedonistic Paradox

Ever chased happiness only to realize it’s as elusive as a double rainbow? Welcome to the Hedonistic Paradox, where chasing pleasure often leads to less of it.

Here’s how it shows up in your daily life: Let’s say you binge-watch your favorite series all weekend. Sure, it’s fun in the moment, but by Sunday night, you might be left with that empty “what now?” feeling.

Or, you splurge on a shopping spree but soon realize that the thrill of the new wears off quickly, and you’re left wanting more.

In essence, this paradox nudges you towards a more balanced approach to happiness. [Read: Best friend bucket list – 66 unforgettable and fun things to do with your besties!]

Instead of diving headfirst into instant gratification, it prompts you to invest in things that bring lasting contentment—like meaningful relationships or personal growth.

It shifts your focus from the question, “What can make me happy right now?” to “What will make my life more meaningful in the long run?”

Essentially, it transforms your chase for pleasure into a quest for something deeper, pushing you to answer, “What is the point of life?” in a way that brings sustained, not fleeting, joy. [Read: 25 Must-know secrets to be successful in life and transform your future today]

5. Carpe Diem, but Thoughtfully: Mindfulness

Next, let’s talk about the here and now, which is like the avocado toast of psychological concepts: trendy but timeless.

Mindfulness teaches us that the point of life can sometimes be as simple as fully enjoying the present moment—like really savoring that first sip of morning coffee or noticing the colors of the sunset.

So, when you ask, “What is the point of life?” remember that sometimes it’s just about being wholly in the now. [Read: 32 secrets to be present and live in the moment when life speeds past you]

6. The Social Animal: Attachment Theory

Who knew cuddles could be so enlightening? Attachment Theory suggests that the quality of our relationships often dictates the quality of our lives. When you’re swiping left and right on dating apps, you’re not just looking for a partner—you’re seeking secure attachment.

Understanding how we bond with others can answer aspects of the big question. In other words, part of the point of life might be about who you’re sharing your Netflix password with.

7. The Bucket List Factor: Goal Setting Theory

If you’ve ever felt a rush of dopamine crossing off something from your to-do list, then you’re already familiar with the Goal Setting Theory.

According to this view, the point of life could be about setting and achieving personally meaningful goals.

You want to start that podcast? Go travel around the world? Those goals are mini chapters in the book of “What is the point of life?”

8. The Ripple Effect: Positive Psychology

Remember the time you smiled at a stranger, and they smiled back, instantly making your day better? Positive Psychology suggests that life gains meaning through acts of kindness, gratitude, and optimism. [Read: The honest secrets to let go of the past, be happy, and look to the future]

If you’re wondering what is the point of life, try doing something nice for someone else. It’s like a happiness boomerang.

9. Life’s a Stage: Narrative Psychology

Next time you ponder what is the point of life, remember, you’re the protagonist of your own epic saga. Your life is basically a bestselling novel in progress.

Narrative Psychology proposes that how we construct our life story, the ups and downs, the plot twists, and even the cliffhangers, all contribute to our sense of purpose.

10. The Sum of All Parts: Holism

You know the saying, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”? In the realm of psychology, this is known as Holism.

Essentially, your career, relationships, hobbies, and even your IG scrolling are interconnected pieces that make up the jigsaw puzzle of your life. Holism nudges you to see that the point of life isn’t just one thing; it’s an intricate web of multiple elements.

The Cosmic Joke Unveiled

Here we are at the core of the Cosmic Joke: the tantalizing idea that just when we think we’ve cracked the code on “What is the point of life,” the universe gleefully shuffles the deck.

What makes this cosmic jest so intriguing—and at times frustrating—is its inherent irony and paradox. [Read: Inferiority complex – how it feels, 23 signs, and secrets to overcome it ASAP]

We have our theories and philosophies, each offering their own compelling answers. Logotherapy says life is about finding meaning in suffering, while Self-Determination Theory argues it’s about autonomy and relationships.

On and on we go, each theory illuminating a different facet of our existence. But what’s hysterically ironic is that even when we apply these theories, there’s no straightforward, one-size-fits-all answer to the question.

This nebulousness isn’t a bug; it’s a feature. The complexity is what makes the question so enduring and the journey to find that answer so enriching. It is non-linear, multifaceted, and ever-changing. [Read: 45 secrets to be more positive and fill your mind with positive emotions 24/7]

What gave your life purpose during your college years may not be the same thing that gives your life purpose as you navigate the trials of adulthood. It’s as if life comes with multiple-choice questions, but the options are constantly changing.

Even from a psychological perspective, it’s clear that life is not designed to have a single, unchanging point.

Rather, it’s an intricate interplay of various elements—relationships, achievements, moment-to-moments—that collectively contribute to its richness. [Read: 33 Secrets to be true to yourself and 15 signs you need to unfake yoru life]

The inability to nail down a definitive answer to “What is the point of life?” isn’t a failing; it’s the essence of human experience. The paradox is the point.

The Cosmic Joke, then, is not that life lacks meaning or purpose but that the search for it is a complex, ever-evolving endeavor that doesn’t come with a manual.

And in that ever-changing, often confusing search, we find the beautiful irony that makes life so profoundly interesting. We’re part of a grand, cosmic comedy, and the punchline? Well, it changes every day. [Read: 32 Secrets to be pleasant and in the moment when life is speeding past you]

The Cosmic Joke’s on Us, but the punchline might just be worth it

There you have it. Life, in all its bewildering complexity, never provides a straightforward answer to our perpetual question. But that’s exactly what makes the ride so exhilarating.

Each theory, each philosophy, and each lived experience gives us another lens through which to explore this multi-dimensional jigsaw puzzle.

The point isn’t to find the “right” piece but to engage in the dynamic process of continuously putting it all together. [Read: 41 Signs and steps to stop caring what other people think and start living your life]

Maybe you find your purpose through close relationships, by being the absolute best friend or partner you can be.

For others, it might be achieving career milestones or leaving a legacy that would make even Shakespeare put down his quill in awe. Perhaps it’s a blend of experiences, like an emotional cocktail that’s part love, part ambition, and a sprinkle of wanderlust.

Sure, the cosmic joke’s on us, but the punchline might just be worth it.

[Read: Why am I so insecure? 41 signs and 51 ways to deal with insecurity and fix it]

So, we ask again: What is the point of life? Well, it’s kind of like a game where everyone gets to set their own rules—and the only way to lose is not to play at all.

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Carol Morgan LP
Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...