So in this piece, I will briefly address the different ideas for what the purpose of life is. I might go into greater detail on individual ideas another time, but I think it is good to at least recognize them for now
Misunderstanding: the meaning of life is to have fun
From before we can even remember, we associate happiness with fun. We of course want to be happy so this actually makes sense. Add in that society and even our parents encourage this philosophy. Toy marketing is a plain example of this. Many clubs and organizations will also try to attract people by creating events for people to have fun. Parents will ask their children if they had fun for almost everything they do. It is not uncommon of a tale to hear of parents trying whatever they can to have fun with their children.
With all of this, doesn't it make sense that children and teenagers would think the point of life is to have fun?
Fun isn't a bad thing. It's good to have fun occasionally. However, when we pursue it like it's our goal in life, we end up hurting others. Things eventually stop being fun for us and we seek new areas of fun.
Something we can do to help prevent this misunderstanding is to emphasize to or children that we can feel joy through love. We can encourage positive behavior with praise and love. Have them acknowledge how good it feels to do a good deed and know it is good. My father would often say he was proud of the good deeds I would do. This sort of praise can help a great deal.
Misunderstanding: the meaning of life is to receive praise and honor
To receive praise can be addictive. It feels good. This is likely related to having an external confirmation that we did something good. Another reason is that we feel liked and maybe even wanted when people praise us.
However, just because someone praises us doesn't mean what we did is right. It's also dangerous to have a lot of attention on us lest we start to feel entitled. This can result in good deeds not having a proper motivation behind them and people just treating life like it's a game.
While it is good to speak our appreciation, we should also note to our children that hunting praise is not a good intention. It might be good to remind them occasionally that we love them and that it is through good deeds that we show our love. When we praise, we are admiring the show if love we see.
Misunderstanding: the meaning of life is to be free.
Freedom is certainly one of the most important rights we have, but we must understand it's purpose. Freedom for freedom's sake is pointless. However, freedom does have a purpose and it's to let us grow. It also serves to be a protection against those who would prefer to make us do evil.
Misunderstanding: the meaning of life is to experience
It's not unreasonable to think that life is meant to be filled with experiences. After all, can you experience anything without life? Can you change unless you experience events? People often say that experiences make them feel alive. People even make lists of the things they want to do before they due. And then there's the saying, "You'll never know if you like something until you try."
However, experience for the sake of experience is not a good way to live. It's fine to let experiences happen, but to chase them without a purpose is not going to make you happy. In fact, there are some experiences that can make you permanently unable to enjoy what life has to offer. It's also generally impossible to do everything that you want to do. In addition, some things can be over-hyped, leaving to a great disappointment.
Misunderstanding: the meaning of life is to fulfill our desires
This is easy to see. We want to be happy. We desire what we think will make us happy. Therefore we think what we desire is our meaning in life. This is encouraged in many movies as well when they focus on emotion. They place so much attention on how big the desire is that we feel sad if they cannot obtain it, even if it's something evil. However, that fact showcases why this isn't the meaning of life.
We all know truly that we have not only good desires, but also evil ones. The villains in movies are always going after what they want strongly. They are the ones following their heart. And if you have ever experienced over-hype, then you know what we want can also severely disappoint us. We have also learned that our desires can easily be corrupted.
When we understand these truths, then we can see why people who limit their desires are the ones who are happier in life.
Misunderstanding: suffering is the greatest evil
As someone who has suffered intense pain on multiple occasions, I can understand the feeling that it's horrible. The pain would be so bad that I couldn't sleep nor think. It is certainly good to try and relieve someone of their pain, but if we get incredibly upset over the smallest of sufferings, then we'll never be perfect. It is possible to suffer and still be happy. Love really does help.
Misunderstanding: there is no meaning to life
Since happiness is almost impossible if not impossible to obtain, and disillusionment is too common, it's understandable that some might just think that there is no purpose. This can also be a result of thinking we're in a world where our actions have no real effect.
However, if we consider characters in a book, while their actions don't affect our reality, they do have impact on our reality. They may not be able to be with their God, but they can still inspire us. We should not forget that the nature of man is to love. When we remember that, then we can see we always have a purpose.