I promise I am not a troll and this is a sincere question and not a challenge.

I know this will be like the classic 'where do atheists get their morality from without god" question.

The religious people all have their edicts from their god and the promise of an afterlife to keep them in line and keep them a purpose.

What do my fellow atheists use as a grand purpose in life to make it worth it? 

I am not considering hurting myself or doing anything stupid but I will admit it has been tough lately. 

I was widowed a few years ago and still dealing with that loss.  Lately my job has been real crazy and I am starting to get the feeling like I just want to walk in a quit.  But then you have to worry about finding a new one and money and all that crap.

So what do you use as motivation to get through the daily crap storm that seems to be all that life has to offer these days?  With no thoughts of an afterlife or promise of a paradise what makes it worth putting up with it all.  

It seems like objectively speaking life has no intrinsic purpose.  It is just misery and strife all day every day and not much good to say about it.   So how do you justify to yourself putting up with it ever day. How do you convince yourself it is worth slogging through the day knowing it is just going to be more of the same tomorrow, and the day after that.

It may be just a rough patch but it all seems pretty futile right now.

I know how bad this may sound but please don't worry I am not on the edge of doing anything stupid.

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When times are tough then I find the number one thing that makes me feel better is doing something about it in some way.  Does it seem like life is all work (difficult job) and no play?  Is there something you can get involved in outside work, that is fun?  The best kind is that which involves working with others or helping others, this is said to bring "meaning" to life.  And anyway, usually, one thing leads to another.  If you do nothing, nothing happens, if you do something, something happens.  What are your talents?  What do you enjoy doing?  Surely you owe it to yourself not to, and life's too short, to spend the rest of it miserable.  Think of yourself like a flower in your garden, you would tend and nurture it, and it would grow strong.  Have a look at this post, see if it any use to you. ...  Basically, the purpose in life that nature has given us is flourishing.  Everything else is about how to achieve that on a long term basis.  If you were to learn mindulness meditation, and practice it regularly, that would stop you feeling so shitty, from clinging on to experience in order to evaluate it, from suffering from trying to avoid experiences, and from worrying about things so much. 


This is the symbol of my philosophy: 

I am with Simon on this; the purpose of life is to flourish. For me that means to learn and become a more moral and better person. To have a perspective on suffering. For example, this morning I realized I missed an opportunity to help someone last night. The next time I will recognize the situation and be able to help. To find that balance between what I need and what I can give. 

The idea "ethically" isn't that you have to go around being especially altruistic and helpful to people - just that whenever you act, make sure that the effects on other people are the most good and the least bad they can be.  That's the basic requirement, and of course, it will often lead to helping.  I do believe that being good to others nearly always benefits us in some way, since we are such intensely social beings, and it tends to bring happiness and peace of mind - although that's not the main point.  Basically, it's more healthy to have positive feelings than negative ones. 

The Buddhists say that everyone wants to be happy, but when you go deeper with them, what they mean is biological, psychological and social flourishing. 

This idea that all organisms experience a constant pressure to flourish can make us see other people in a different light, and make us respect their humanity more, since we instinctively respect in others that which is most precious and tender both for them and ourselves. 

I could care less about what Buddhists or Christians mean by "flourishing". They push altruism for this life, only to pay for the next life. They are worried about their souls. Blind altruism is irrational. Jesus is irrational (love thy enemies, abandon your family), and I certainly am not trying to return to earth as a bovine.

No, I say when you flourish enough, the next step is to help others do the same; and in return you will become even happier in this life. That is the balance I seek to find.

I saw something on Facebook that a Christian had posted:  "it's supposed to be love thy neighbour as well as yourself, not instead of yourself".  Even our Jeff Ulinski said that Christian compassion is all about putting other people before oneself.  It's no wonder that Nietzsche said that they have a slave mentality.  I've looked through a book about Sufi saints and they were very big on not wanting or having the right to satisfy any of one's own needs, effectively - taking "the annihilation of the self" to an impractical level that is cruel to oneself and letting oneself down.  In Buddhism they talk about monks whose way of living was to find out what each other wanted, and attend to that.  But it strikes you, what do they want for themselves.  The formula I have put together states "each person affected by your action, including yourself, is to receive the maximum benefit and minimum harm available to them", and this is the most detailed and flexible way of putting it. 

So there are several rules or imperatives in the process: 

1)  try to do the right thing: care about doing the right thing, and be prepared to do what is necessary to achieve it. 

2)  don't rest when a good solution is found, but be alert to opportunities to improve it as time goes on. 

3)  in other words, there is general upward pressure towards achieving the maximum possible flourishing and minimum possible harm.  This has been put in place by natural selection and evolution.  I believe we can state that this is the main overall imperative within morality and ethics. 

Being alive is a gift.  Its a rare opportunity.  As with any gift, you can appreciate it, or feel it sucks, etc...but its still yours to do with as you please.

Some are born into a life that sucks more, say a baby born to a starving AIDS infected Somalian mother...and they have few options.

Others are born into a life of plenty and massive opportunities.

The rest of us are in the bell curve between those extremes.

Its certainly easier to flourish if born to a privileged family, etc...and progressively more work to do so if born to less favorable circumstances.

If you are born with the need for YOUR life to be more important than someone else's for example, because you are special..then religions appeal is strong...they promise you that you are special and important, etc.

They can't back it up though, so its like buying a penny stock that is PROMISED to make you rich, but which never pans out.

So, some people buy the penny stock and insist that that is their salvation, and, will make them rich/their lives worthwhile.

Others do more research, and find sounder investments, and pursue those instead.

That's where you are...in search of sounder investments.  Something(s) that are going to work for YOU.

Some people are simply hardwired to view life as negative with positive exceptions, and others, as positive, with negative exceptions.

If your baseline is positive, you will be happier, and, potentially, more content.

If your baseline is negative, you will tend to be unhappier, and less content.

Those with a more neutral viewpoint, will be between those extremes, and so forth.

There are two opposed view points, evolutionarily, because if too content with your situation, you are not driven to improve it...but if too unhappy, you might be depressed and unable to do anything.

So, we have happiness as an objective, and unhappiness as a driver to improvement.

Society benefits from both, proportionally.

Purpose may not be the most profound way of thinking about it. The thing that makes me feel meaningful is seeing my place in a greater scheme of things. I am insignificant in comparison with the vastness of space or the unbelievable power of a black hole or an exploding sun, yet the fact that I am self aware and capable of composing meaning and art and philosophy is every bit as beautiful. The purpose of my life is to use it to further or at least express all the things that I value and love. Hopefully fairness, honesty, and the wellbeing of others number among those things for enough of us that we can free ourselves to further the intellectual and ethical capabilities of current humans and generations to come. If not I cannot think of anything more meaningful than using one's life to fight for those values in the face of people who seek to drag our species backwards. I can't speak for anyone else but that is how I see it. 

Very Nice, Helena. Almost saved me from replying. But:

 It is just misery and strife all day every day and not much good to say about it. 

Nothing to do with religious persuasion or otherwise, but, if you see life that way, I'd advise a cold hard look at your value system.

What makes you happy? Do that.

For my part I see my insignificant existence as having no purpose whatever. This gives me a sense of freedom. My motto would be, "Have Fun while you're here".  For me family is fun. My partner is FUN! Music is fun. Helping others is fun. Working hard to accomplish something is fun.

Sounds like you would have little to lose by making some basic life changes.

The religious people all have their edicts from their god and the promise of an afterlife to keep them in line and keep them a purpose.

If this is how you define morality, then no, we don't have it and we don't want it. I find it distasteful, to say the least, to get your morality from a static text... regardless of the author.

What do my fellow atheists use as a grand purpose in life to make it worth it?

This is an interesting question, I don't believe there is a grand purpose in life. Ultimately, all the doings of our entire civilisation will be destroyed eventually. So what remains? Only us and how we feel about things. So, maybe some sort of hedonism would be appropriate?

So what do you use as motivation to get through the daily crap storm that seems to be all that life has to offer these days?

Ignore the "grand purpose" of things. Put your money into things that make you happy. My wife and I love the idea of living in the country, so we want to buy some land and build a house for us to eventually move into out there.

I know how bad this may sound but please don't worry I am not on the edge of doing anything stupid.

Regardless, please consider counselling with a social worker or psychologist... whatever you have affordable (or even free) access to. It can really help to get these things off your chest.

Life is hard and some people are not prepared for all the hardships that they will encounter once on their own..........Having a solid up bringing surely helps, with parents teaching  you good moral values......Even with all that, life can be a challenge.......Whenever I feel down, I assess my life up to that point and try to see what I have accomplished and what I need to accomplish......Surprisingly, after many years, you will be surprised  of what you have done and may see things what may be left to accomplish for your bucket list.......For me, I realized that  I graduated  from High School and College and obtained  a good job using the skills I have learned......My parents taught me to save religiously for retirement, so that I can retire  comfortably......So, when things got me down at work or when people looked down on me because I am an atheist or that I am not in a solid relationship with anyone, I remind myself that yes, I have accomplished  a lot and should not be so hard on myself.....I need to work on my social skills, but that seems minor on reflection.........I am now retired and am able to spend my winter months in a sunny, warm location, wearing tee shirt and shorts  or just a bathing suit laying by the pool........I feel good donating to various charities knowing I am helping others and I am trying to stay healthy by eating healthy and going to the gym twice a week........In closing, I just want to say, that anyone who feels down about life will be amazed how much  they have done in their lifetime when they actually take the time to re assess their life.....I am sure everyone can think of something that they can be proud of......Hope you all have a fruitful and content 2016....:-)

You only need a purpose if you think you need one.

Please forgive me but how blunt do you want me to be? I am not in the mood to sugar coat things right now....so that is my disclaimer....

First of all, Welcome to TA. If you seek honest advice and good company you have come to the right place.

I am (just guessing) assuming you may be experiencing depression from the loss you have endured. Grieving takes time and depression takes effort and the willingness to ask for help to overcome it, and start surrounding your self with good people.

Your job may be at a dead end. So what? People change careers and reinvent themselves all the time. Long gone are the days of having ONE career your entire life. Maybe you need a new challenge and a fresh start. Maybe you need to find a good doctor and even get into some counseling....

If you get your mind right you will start to see the immensely amazing things you can appreciate and enjoy. You will find a new purpose. Our purpose is what we a want it to be and what we decide to pursue. The sky is the limit...

Don't be afraid of change or taking some risks.


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