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Tuesday, June 11. 2019
Food for thought. What is "life purpose"?
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Mine is to continue living. My mother made it to 94; I hope to make it a bit longer. Because life is "what's happ'nin', man!"
A lot of what is usually measured for "life purpose" is the subject's impression of whether they have a purpose, and this seems to be largely true for this study as well. They do make an effort to get around that by asking about purpose from a variety of angles. When you think about it, it would be difficult to use objective measures subject to the evaluation of outsiders whether there is a purpose or not. For some, keeping a garden might be a serious attempt to create beauty in the world to be shared with people. For others, it might be just a chore that keeps them busy.
After a career of having a helluva lot depend on me in an acute psychiatric setting I have long looked forward to being relieved of that, and now doing that only part-time in retirement has indeed been a relief. I worried that purposes would find me after retirement, whether I would or no.
The problem is not the idea that having a long-term purpose or goal provides a motivation to move on in life. The problem is that the people who argue this position often are not sincere in their belief that it is real. For example, one of my primary purpose and objective in life is to make it to a time where aging and death are things you read about on the internet, like how we read about medieval period diseases today. Yet the same people who argue that you need a purpose in order to have the motivation to persevere in life will not accept this being my personal motivation in life. It is this cognitive dissidence on the part of such people that is the reason why I just ignore such people as annoying background noise.
I'm not sure what you mean by "won't accept." Good or bad, that IS your motivation, and there's not much getting around that. I suppose it does sound a bit circular, but that's a small quibble. It may be more that they think this leaves out the last step, wondering if you did achieve escape velocity in aging, what would be your purpose then. It's a question we ask 20-year-olds as well as older people, so it seems legit.
As Lewis Carroll asked "With what porpoise?"
I get what you're saying and agree with it. But that wasn't what I was getting at. I was commenting about those who oppose private (DIY) efforts to cure aging even though that is out current purpose for staying alive. Such people are questioning our purpose in life, when it is not their business to do so.
Once we get radical life extension, then we move on to other goals. The point is that as long as I have goals, I will be motivated to stay alive and that IS the point of the original piece.
It is other peoples' business. If you people succeed in overturning the Laws of Thermodynamics, you'll create a situation of intense competition for resources. Who gets to live forever and who's in the way? Will reproduction be outlawed or strictly rationed?
There is nothing wrong with wishing for immortality but it isn't going to happen. There won't be some medical or scientific breakthrough that will significantly extend life or "end aging". We all die and that isn't going to change.
You remind me of the story about how all respectable scientists in 1900 said that artificial heavier than air flight was impossible.
It's a nonsense, and even if achievable, one would inevitably get run over by a bus or gored by a man-eating tiger or somesuch, even if it took hundreds, even thousands of years.
You believe not only that the Laws of Thermodynamics can be negated, but also that resources are unlimited.
" life purpose was significantly associated with all-cause mortality." Well duh. You're not going to last long sitting around watching TV all day.
The very first paragraph in the introduction:
A growing body of literature suggests that having a sense of purpose in life is associated with both physical and mental health and overall quality of life.1,2 Purposeful living has been defined in various ways. In general, purpose in life can be defined as “a self-organizing life aim that stimulates goals,”1 promotes healthy behaviors, and gives meaning to life.3,4
I believe this is what is known as a "No True Scotsman" argument, a form of circular reasoning. Who would have thought that living a life that promotes healthy behaviors would lead to health? It's a good thing we have experts to study this sort of thing.
On the other hand, it does lead me to wonder about the longevity of those whose purpose in life seems to be serving as a bad example.
As mortality is 100%, your "life choices" will only postpone the inevitable.
Might as well enjoy what time you have on this earth rather than deprive yourselves of having fun for the sake of living a few years longer...
Interesting. I think of Mum. She was in her late 70's when Dad died. Though Dad had been ill for many years, and his condition was deteriorating to the point where the rest of us regarded Dad's death as a merciful release, Mum was devastated. All she wanted was to join her husband.
Fate did not oblige Mum; instead, health problems forced Mum to leave the home Dad had bought her forty years before and move closer to us. Her mood was not great: at every mention of upcoming events, her comment was "I won't be here". I was finally compelled to point out that - given her heredity (her Mum was a week short of 98 years when she died) - she shouldn't count on not being around and so we had better do some planning.
In the event, Mum was around long enough to see all the grands through elementary school, through high school, through university (though a couple of them insisted on multi degrees) and - finally - to dance at the wedding of two grands and to meet the fiance of the third grand. When asked, she openly admitted that she thought that - had been alive for a grandchild's wedding, said grandchild would be too young to be married. Both grands were older than their parents were when they were married.
Sadly, she was not around for the third wedding, though she was kept apprised of all the preparations, saw the wedding dress, and heard of the bouquet. Our daughter chose mini sunflowers, but Mum heard only "sunflower" and did not like the choice. I am convinced she went to her grave thinking "they're each going to be carrying one honking great sunflower down the aisle and that will be AWFUL". The reality was really great, but we all missed her that day.
I just finished writing an article on life's purpose. It's too long to post here, but I can provide an excerpt:
People have a need to believe that life has meaning. Children usually don't stick to one activity for very long, because their motives change so rapidly. They might play with Lego's to satisfy a creative urge, and then run around the house to satisfy a need for excitement, and then watch T.V. for intellectual stimulation. They find meaning in all of these activities, but they don't try to look for a connection between them. It's not until they get older that they begin to move from a purely narcissistic life, based on the pleasure of the moment, to a goal-oriented life of connected activities. But this transition does not automatically mean that they have developed a sense of purpose. It just means that other people's expectations of them have changed. They respond to these higher expectations by trying to understand what, exactly, is expected of them. So the goal-orientation of the child that the parents want, is actually responded to with maturation, and feelings of frustration, conflict, inadequacy, and anxiety. The developing ego of the child uses the these tools as defense mechanisms to protect itself. So depending on the way that the child is treated, it will use some mechanisms more than others. This all depends on what is called the "Parent Behavior Profile."
You can't study a thing such as purpose in life, and that thing's consequences, when no two people can ever agree on what that thing is.
The article states "purpose in life can be defined as a self-organizing life aim that stimulates goals, promotes healthy behaviors, and gives meaning to life." They associate that with decreased mortality? Tell that to Mick Jagger and his mates.
Reading this article is like listening to Saturday morning NPR.