Hi everybody, this is Mondays with Mike, a weekly video series where I answer questions from people just like you. Here’s this week’s question:

Do you think life has meaning, or do each of us have to determine the meaning of our own lives?


Alright all of us here are going to answer this question. I guess they’re asking if life has meaning intrinsically, just by virtue of the fact that you’re alive, or do each of us have to determine the meaning of our own lives.

Crew Member 1: For me that’s something I struggle with a lot. I think it’s per individual. You have to define what your perfect sundown and goal is going to be with your existence.

Crew Member 2: I think the two are interconnected in a way. I think you need the latter before you can have the former, and then you can figure out how that fits into the big picture.

Mike: That’s interesting! So maybe it’s not binary, maybe it’s both.

So, do you think life has meaning, or do each of us have to determine the meaning of our own lives?

Yes is the answer. I think had you asked that question differently, had you asked if life has value and do we have to determine the meaning of it, then definitely yes.

Not to turn life into my grandmother’s rocking chair, but let’s do that. So, my great-grandmother, we called her Moms, was my great-grandmother on my father’s side. When I was a little, little kid I used to go to my aunt and uncle’s house, where Moms lived. Moms had this little rocking chair, it was a beautifully embroidered rocking chair with little sides on it. She used to tell me stories about rocking my dad when he was a baby in that rocking chair. So, Moms died, and that rocker ended up at my grandmother and grandfather’s house, then somehow ended up in a storage unit belonging to a cousin of mine. I always wanted it! I told my grandmother before she died, but things happen and there we were. One day my stepdad and my mom called my cousin to say that I wanted the rocker and to ask if I could have it. I got it! Even talking about it right now gives me chills. I have that rocker in my house. That rocker is well over 100 years old. So that rocker has enormous meaning to me. I’m not sure how much value it is, I’ve never had it appraised, it’s never been reupholstered, it is the original rocker that it was. Maybe it was bought at the local quick stop drug store, I don’t know. But I can tell you this, in a fire, it’s the first thing I’d grab going out of my house. So, it has both meaning and value.

Perhaps life’s that way too, perhaps it has value and meaning. In some cases you are working towards identifying what that sort of intrinsic meaning is. In others that then backs into how much personal meaning life has. So it’s kind of like saying a life without meaning probably does not give life much meaning… if that makes sense. If I don’t define my own meaning for my own life, is it harder or easier for me to say life in general is having meaning.

So I would say yes, life has meaning, but I think you’ve got to try to not make it too universal. Try not to make it too enormous, too cosmic. It has to do, at least in my life, with the impact I have and the relationships I have right now, today, in this particular moment, in this particular period of time. Because I can tell you, given the way 2020 went, I’m not sure I would have defined it the same. I’m not sure my personal meaning or the meaning of life would have looked the same had I seen it differently. So I try not to make it too existential. You just have to be careful about making it too huge, too overarching. Just make the impact you can where you are and think about what is the meaning you have in your life as it relates to the world you live in and the people you love, care about, and impact.
Take care,

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