Answer by Jim Ashby:
Thanks for the A2A,!
Well, there's the old cliche answer: "The meaning of life is a life of meaning." And, maybe, that's as good an answer as any other. To me, meaning and purpose, in the context of your OP question, are synonymous.
Living a long life is not the purpose of life. Longevity is insignificant in the grand scheme of things. It's quality, not quantity, that matters.
So, what qualities gives life meaning?
Well, I think the answer is found in consciousness. Cogito ergo sum. I think, therefore I am. Consciousness is the one thing we can be certain of. It's an irreducible biological phenomenon without which there would be no meaning.
But consciousness itself is not meaningful without experience. So I think the purpose of life is experience. But it's quality, not quantity that matters. It's not the number of experiences but, rather, the depth and breadth of those experiences that matter.
You could sleep as little as possible and spend every waking moment engaging your mind with reading and mass media or whatever else interests you. You could stuff your brain with knowledge. But would that be meaningful? Would your knowledge make a dent in what's knowable? Relative knowledge, like longevity, is insignificant in the grand scheme of things. The some goes for other quantitative approaches to life. You could try to maximize hedonistic pleasure, popularity, professional achievement, accumulation of wealth or power . . . but no quantitative measure of life will ever fulfill you.
No. It's not the number of experiences we have that matters. It's the depth and breadth of those experiences that matter. So how do you pursue quality over quantity?
You share consciousness. You cooperate, collaborate and participate with others in ways that make you and others happy. Love is a natural outgrowth of shared consciousness and the pursuit of quality experiences.
Who do you love most? Your children? Your parents? Your significant other? Aren't they the ones you share consciousness with the most? Aren't they the ones you cooperate, collaborate and participate with the most? Well, make everybody a part of your family. Spread love wherever you go and happiness will follow in your path.
But this is easier said than done in 'normal' life. Not everybody wants to share in your consciousness or experience your love. Which is why some people seek out charity or missionary work. Unless you're gifted with a great skill, it's easier to make a difference if you join like-minded people and take your love to those who need it most. If you're not gifted, be the gift.