top of page
  • Ryoga

Man's Meaning for Life: Why We Suffer? How to Find Purpose

Updated: Dec 22, 2023

Man is watching the sea and sun

Life is a complex puzzle that presents a myriad of questions. Within this intricate maze, one of the most profound questions that people often grapple with is: "What is the meaning of life?" This article aims to explore this enigma, drawing insights from the books "Man's Search for Meaning" and "The Way of the Superior Man," and combining them with my own experiences.

Unearthing the Essence of Existence

To understand the meaning of life, it is essential to delve into three key aspects:

  1. Existence: Understanding the nature of human existence is the first step.

  2. Meaning: Decoding the significance of this existence.

  3. Purpose: Identifying personal purpose or the "will to meaning".

Adopting a proactive approach towards life, where we ponder upon what life demands from us, rather than what we expect from life, can be a transformative experience.

Embracing Life's Challenges

If you've ever felt like life's got nothing to offer, what you need is a fundamental change in your attitude toward life. Forget about what you want from life. Instead, think about what life wants from you. Stop constantly asking about life's meaning; see yourself as someone being questioned by life. And our response must consist of more than just talking and meditating; our answer must be taking the right actions and making the right choices. Life's all about taking responsibility, finding answers to its challenges, and completing the tasks it throws at you. So, embrace it and show life you've got what it takes.

Growth Through Suffering

When you're searching for answers to these questions, chances are you're going through some struggles. As Victor Frankl beautifully puts it in his book, there's a realization that suffering is an unavoidable part of life. When you find that it is your destiny to suffer. you will have to accept your suffering as your task. It's like destiny's way of giving us a unique challenge that only we can handle. Now, don't get me wrong – suffering isn't something we should seek out, like some kind of masochistic pursuit. If it's avoidable, we should definitely do what it takes to remove its cause. Unnecessary suffering won't make us heroic; it'll just make us feel like we're stuck in a bad situation.

Suffering has meaning

Why do we suffer? You know the saying: 'What doesn't kill us makes us stronger.' Hardships can indeed toughen us up, but it's not just about enduring pain for the sake of it. As human beings, Man's main concern is not to gain pleasure or to avoid pain but to see meaning in his life. That's why we're even ready to suffer, as long as our suffering has a purpose and meaning attached to it.

If you're not suffering you're not growing

Suffering grows us. When I look back at my past suffering, I truly believe that without those experiences, I wouldn't be the person I am today. Instead, I might have ended up as a mediocre stereotype of a Japanese guy. If you're currently going through pain and hardship, I want you to look back at your past and think how you would have been today without these sufferings.

The Evolving Purpose of Life

Life's purpose is not static. It evolves, shifts, and transforms over time, just as we do. According to "The Way of the Superior Man," we discover our life’s purpose layer by layer. As we fulfill one purpose, we uncover another, delving deeper into our core. Imagine these purposes as concentric circles, with our deepest purpose at the core and lesser purposes surrounding it. Check this image.

Circle layer of purpose

It's easy to feel disappointed by life. Sometimes, life's achievements may not feel as fulfilling as we expect. That's because each fulfilled purpose is merely a stepping stone towards achieving a deeper, more significant purpose.

Recognizing the Completion of a Purpose

How do we know when we fulfilled a purpose? There are certain tell-tale signs:

  1. You suddenly have no interest in a project or mission that, just highly motivated you.

  2. You feel surprisingly free of any regrets for starting the project or for ending it.

  3. Even though you may not have the slightest idea of what you're going to do next, you feel clear, unconfused, and especially unburdened.

  4. Increased energy at the thought of ending involvement with a project.

  5. The project starts seeming almost silly, just like collecting shoelaces or wall-papering your house with receipts. You could do it, but why would you?

However, you want to make sure that you're not just bailing out. If you didn't fulfill or complete the current layer of purpose and try to move on to the next one prematurely, you'll likely find yourself circling back to the unfinished task.

It's important that the layer of purpose ends clearly and does not create new karma or obligation, that will burden us or others in the future.

Discovering the Next Layer of Purpose

Once a purpose is fulfilled, the quest for the next layer of purpose begins. This can be discovered in three ways:

1. Creating Work or Doing a Deed

Leveraging skills and experiences to contribute to a new purpose.

You gain experience and skills through achievements and accomplishments that can contribute to your next layer of purpose. For example, becoming fluent in French after putting in so much effort and time can now lead you to help others learn French by sharing your knowledge and skills, and creating meaningful work or deeds that align with your purpose.

2. Experiencing Something or Encountering Someone

Gaining profound insights through new experiences or interactions.

Experiencing goodness, such as nature or culture, can extend your knowledge and mindfulness. Traveling to another country and touching another culture, hiking up the mountain, kayaking in the rivers, camping in the wildness. Experiencing something new. These adventures may not directly connect to finding your next purpose, but they have the potential to create profound changes within you.

In my experience, somewhere you've never been is always better. I've found that visiting new places and experiencing something novel brings me excitement and a fresh perspective. Taking on the challenge of hiking a towering mountain I've never explored before pushes my limits while practicing martial arts boosts my confidence. These experiences led to significant transformations within me.

Also, connecting with another person in their uniqueness has a tremendous impact on our lives. Particularly meeting new people can give you new opportunities. They know something you don't know, and you learn something from them, and hearing about their life experience can change your perspective, and inspire you for your next purpose.

3. Attitude Towards Unavoidable Suffering

Suffering, when unavoidable, can lead to self-discovery if it's coupled with the right attitude.

As I described before, suffering is unavoidable. It has meaning. Our concern is not avoiding pain but if that suffering has meaning, all those things that happened to you have meaning. otherwise, no meaning to overcome.


The meaning and purpose of life are not fixed entities. They are fluid and evolving, much like life itself. As we navigate through life's maze, we continuously discover and redefine our purpose. This journey of self-discovery and self-realization is what makes life a fascinating adventure.

If you find this post valuable, please share this post with your friends who need to read it.

Note: The information provided in this article is based on interpretations of the books "Man's Search for Meaning" and "The Way of the Superior Man". It is recommended to read these books for a deeper understanding of the concepts discussed.


bottom of page