How can I be happy? Some people believe that there is one single meaning of life. They think that the universe was created for a purpose and that human beings are part of some larger cosmic plan. They think our meaning comes from being part of this plan and is written into the universe waiting to be discovered.
A humanist view of meaning in life is different. Humanist do not see that there is any obvious purpose to the universe, but that it is a natural phenomenon with no design behind it. Meaning is not something out there waiting to be discovered, but something that we create in our own lives. And although this vast and incredibly old universe was not created for us, all of us are connected to something bigger than ourselves, whether it is family and community, a tradition stretching into that past, an idea or cause looking forward to the future, or the beautiful, wider natural world on which we were born and our species evolved.
This way of thinking means that there is not just one big meaning of life but that every person will have many different meanings in their life. Each one of us is unique and our different personalities depend on a complex mixture of influences from our parents, our environment, and our connections. They change with experience and changing circumstances. There are no simple recipes for living that are applicable to all people. We have different tastes and preferences, different priorities and goals.
One person may like drawing, walking in the woods, and caring for their grandchildren. Another may like cooking and watching soap operas, savoring a favorite wine, or a new food. We may find meaning through our family, our career, making a commitment to an artistic project or a political reform, in simple pleasures, such as gardening and hobbies, or in a thousand other ways, giving reign to our creativity or our curiosity, our intellectual capacities, or our emotional life.
The time to be happy is now and the way to find meaning in life is to get on and live it as fully and as well as we can.