I'm living for the weekend.
I always liked this exchange in the movie Equilibrium about why we're alive, highlighting that many of the things we value — "productive" things — might be necessary but are woefully insufficient in providing meaning in our lives:
The reason to live & asking what we are living for seems to imply there is a purpose to our life, & then we must ask if this is an individual purpose or one that applies to humanity as a whole, which means purpose would come from outside & not inside.
If purpose is individual to us, then we must decide for ourselves what our purpose is. If purpose comes from outside, whoever is in charge of it is doing a hell of a bad job, because nobody seems to know what it is.
But it seems arbitrary to assume life has a purpose other than the one we give our individual existence for ourselves.
Freud and Betty Friedan came up with similar answers, a century apart. Freud asked the question, "What does man want/" He answered by saying man wants "Arbeit," or work. I believe he meant this in terms of what gives purpose to us, what defines us, and, especially in his time men (remember that he lived in a very paternalistic time and culture) defined them selves by what sort of work they did. If you asked a fellow "Wat are you?" he'd not answer that he was an uncle, father, husband, etc. He would say that he was a laborer, a doctor, a shoemaker. Betty Friedan did a very long, rather immersive study, and published her answer in 1993. The book was called "The Fountain of Age," and her answer was that people want something to look forward to, that that gave them purpose. It could be anything that resonated with the person, from being involved with grandchildren, to wanting to be the best origami expert on one's side of the Mississippi, but something to want to wake up for.
We are living on a big rock that is spinning at approximately 1,000MPH orbiting a sun at more than 66,000 miles per hour in an outer spiral arm of the Milky Way Galaxy. Most of the galaxies appear to be flying apart in no discernible direction.
You do not beat your heart, breathe or operate the rods and cones in your eyes as it is all regulated by the autonomic nervous system. Imagine if you had to make decisions with regard to the functioning of your body you would probably never make it out of bed let alone raise or ponder reason(s) to live.
That’s a philosophical question that has dogged thinkers since thinking began! Here’s a selection of conclusions.
Plato - attaining the highest form of knowledge,
Aristotle - Achieving the Highest Good
Kant- the idea of “the will of every rational being as a universally legislating will” - Metaphysics of Morals
Humanist Manifesto - the nature of the universe is what people discern it to be.
Existentialism- action, freedom, and personal decision
Mohism - universal, impartial love
Confucius-achieving virtue through strong relationships and reasoning
Legalism (Shan Yang, Chinese philosophy) - finding the purpose of life is a meaningless effort
Hinduism - progression of the ātman over many lifetimes, and its ultimate movement towards liberation from karma.
Buddhism- Achieving Nirvana by your own experience, critical investigation, and reasoning instead of by blind faith
Taoism- return to the Oneness of the Universe by self-reflection and self-realisation
Shinto - individual human life is to be prolonged forever on earth as a victory of the divine spirit
Zoroastrianism- people must take an active role in the universal conflict, with good thoughts, good words and good deeds to ensure happiness and to keep chaos at bay
As far as I can tell, there is no reason.
Random chance put us here and we each decide how we want to live our lives.
My goal is to be as content (hopefully even happy) each day and to spread happiness, love, hope and joy to as many as I can wherever and whenever I can. (some days are more successful than others)
It's all pretty futile, so I try to muddle through with as cheery a disposition and I can muster.