The Student News Site of Kent State University

a magazine

The Student News Site of Kent State University

a magazine

The Student News Site of Kent State University

a magazine

Life, Death, and Cute Cat Videos: Navigating Trying to Find Meaning in Life

Art: Carly Heller

Every day, I think about dying. As scary as it is, everyone must die one day. Death is a duty – part of our role as living beings. However, more important than spiraling about death is thinking about what we should do with the time we have to live. It can be hard, in our daily lives, not to feel lost and wonder what the purpose of life is when we seem to be the only ones living a boring and meaningless routine. While people all over Instagram are living life to the fullest by taking life slowly and going on spontaneous trips, it can be almost impossible to not play a game of comparison.

Whether you consider time to be your enemy or not, the fact is that it passes by incredibly fast. Most of the time, we are all trying to live life the best we can, but there are no instructions or guidelines we can check to know if we are making the right choices. So, it is important to remember these ideas.

There is no right or wrong way to live your life.

Getting a degree, finding a good job, getting married, having kids and making a lot of money won’t guarantee that your life is good or satisfactory. And that is because there isn’t a single way to live that is one-size-fits-all. The achievements listed before are common milestones people consider as indicators of a successful life, and they are heavily reinforced by literally everything around us – we only have purpose if we can achieve these quintessential milestones. The big problem with this “purpose” is that it is not really a purpose.

Purpose isn’t given; it is something we must find ourselves.

Of course, it would be extremely unfair to say that we should drop everything we know and travel around the world to find ourselves because it’s not realistic in any sense. However, despite how mundane our lives are, the longing for meaning is still real, and we need to do something about it.

The good news is that there is something easy we can do about it, and that is simply living. Going out for walks without listening to music, having dinner with friends without any phones at the table and paying attention to the things around us can help us to notice we are alive and have a unique way of existing on this planet. Sometimes, it is less about searching for purpose and more about letting it come to you. Purpose can mean different things to different people, and it can be as simple as the thing that made you happy for having lived that day when you lay down to go to sleep.

One of the biggest obstacles to finding meaning is our lifestyle. Humans have grown accustomed to living life at full speed, without a single moment of boredom. Most of us have the whole internet at our fingertips, so instead of dealing with the anxiety of finding meaning, we watch cute cat videos, while listening to some music in the background while also having a TV show playing.

In the words of the American Psychiatrist Anna Lembke in her book, “Dopamine Nation,” “The reason we’re all so miserable may be because we’re working so hard to avoid being miserable.” This behavior can get serious to the point that the first thing we do in the morning is to check our phones, then proceed to listen to music or a podcast, watch something on YouTube, scroll through TikTok and keep on taking quick dopamine hits to avoid discomfort. The only moment most of us probably disconnect from every technology is when taking a shower, and only because we can’t take our phones with us without ruining them.

Therefore, if we barely have a moment to be with our thoughts throughout the day, we never get a chance to find ourselves. It’s a trap we set for ourselves to have moments of dopamine at the cost of our overall happiness.

We are so unhappy that, according to The World Happiness Report, people in high-income countries have become increasingly unsatisfied over the past decade. Troubled by the inequality in our society, financial instability, unfulfilling jobs and malnourishment, we often find ourselves lacking the necessary emotional support to be content.

Additionally, according to the advice firm, Gallup, “The percentage of U.S. adults who report having been diagnosed with depression at some point in their lifetime has reached 29.0%, nearly 10 percentage points higher than in 2015.”

These alarming statistics show us that our current lifestyle is not working for most people. It would be absurd to blame it all on our phones and other technologies, even though they hold a big portion of the blame. According to the web portal Big Think and consumer news platform ConsumerAffairs, there are also other factors like humans working and having the highest living costs compared to other generations, which never helps with anxiety and overall happiness.

Despite not being able to afford a life where we have all the time and resources in the world to find ourselves, each one of us is still responsible for looking within ourselves and finding what matters to us.

There is no magical recipe and there are no guidelines for finding meaning in life. We must learn to face our anxiety and spend some time without any external stimulation, just perceiving the world around us and our thoughts, feelings and impact on the world

Reflecting on existence, life itself has no meaning, but your life does.
It’s a journey into the unknown, a path directed not by external guidelines, but by the unique journey of your desires, experiences and introspection. To uncover individual meaning, we must step away from distractions, confront anxieties without numbing support and allow ourselves the space to perceive the world within and around us. In allowing ourselves to explore, we might find that the essence of a fulfilling life is not in predefined achievements, but in self-discovery where the purpose is not given but earned through living.

Support Student Media

Hi! I’m Annie Gleydura, A Magazine’s editor-in-chief. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important and entertaining news from the realms of fashion, beauty and culture. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate to A Magazine. 

More to Discover
Donate to a magazine
Our Goal