What is the purpose of life? of your life? of what you are working on? These eternal questions have occupied some of the wisest minds. Here are some inspiring and challenging quotations on purpose.

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It surprises me how disinterested we are today about things like physics, space, the universe and philosophy of our existence, our purpose, our final destination. Its a crazy world out there. Be curious.

— Stephen Hawking

Why are we here? Where do we come from? Traditionally, these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead.

— Stephen Hawking

The need to leave a legacy is our spiritual need to have a sense of meaning, purpose, personal congruence, and contribution.

— Stephen R. Covey

I want to put a ding in the universe.

— Steve Jobs

Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

— Susan Ertz

The purpose of our lives is to be happy.

— Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.

— Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

The great end of life is not knowledge but action.

— Thomas H. Huxley

Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.

— Thomas Merton

The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.

— Thomas Paine

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.

— Ursula K. Le Guin

Work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed.

— Vaclav Havel

What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.

— Victor Frankl

A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the ‘why’ for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any ‘how.’

— Victor Frankl

We are here on earth to do good for others. What the others are here for, I don’t know.

— W. H. Auden

The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.

— Warren Bennis

That is happiness; to be dissolved into something completely great.

— Willa Cather

Never forget that the purpose for which a man lives is the improvement of the man himself, so that he may go out of this world having, in his great sphere or his small one, done some little good for his fellow creatures and labored a little to diminish the sin and sorrow that are in the world.

— William E. Gladstone

Fashion is among the last influences under which a human being who respects himself, or who comprehends the great end of life, would desire to be placed.

— William Ellery Channing

Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.

— Zig Ziglar

Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose. It is a seeking that he who wishes may know the cosmic secrets of the world and they that dwell therein.

— Zora Neale Hurston
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