We are all here to live, but our individual missions aren’t always the same. Some are explorers, searching for adventure in all that they do. Others choose to build a life of service through innovation and creativity. There is truly no shortage of destinies, roles or dreams to fill; we’re a planet of healers, givers, teachers… the list goes on and on.
The meaning of it all, including why we’re here, is truly based on your perspective, but these 15 wise quotes are a good place to start building your philosophy—your own meaning of life.
1. “The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be. Being alive is the meaning.” ―Joseph Campbell
2. “Whatever we are, whatever we make of ourselves, is all we will ever have—and that, in its profound simplicity, is the meaning of life.” ―Philip Appleman
3. “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” ―The Dalai Lama
4. “There is not one big cosmic meaning for all; there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person.” ―Anais Nin
5. “The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” ―Nelson Henderson
6. “The meaning of life is not simply to exist, to survive, but to move ahead, to go up, to achieve, to conquer.” ―Arnold Schwarzenegger
7. “We’re here for a reason. I believe a bit of the reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark.” ―Whoopi Goldberg
8. “Life is meant to be fun, and joyous and fulfilling. May each of yours be that.” ―Jim Henson, It’s Not Easy Being Green: And Other Things to Consider
9. “The ultimate aim of the human mind, in all its efforts, is to become acquainted with truth.” ―Eliza Farnham
10. “I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.” ―George Bernard Shaw
11. “I feel the capacity to care is the thing which gives life its deepest significance.” ―Pablo Casals
12. “The man who is born with a talent which he is meant to use, finds his greatest happiness in using it.” ―Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
13. “It is not our purpose to become each other; it is to recognize each other, to learn to see the other and honor him for what he is.” ―Hermann Hesse
15. “Every moment of your life is infinitely creative and the universe is endlessly bountiful. Just put forth a clear enough request, and everything your heart desires must come to you.” ―Mahatma Gandhi