The Meaning of Life & The Purpose of Life

For most of my life, I’ve asked myself “what’s the point?”

Along the way, I’ve explored and designed all sorts of questions and answers. It wasn’t until last year that I reached an answer that seemed complete in and of itself. After a year of testing it, talking about it, and running it by those who I trust most to challenge it, I feel it’s a valuable and useful concept to present to others…which also includes: you.


The first realization I made on this question was in 2007. After several months of heavy meditation on this topic, I saw that there was no singular answer. There is no meaning or purpose of life that fits everyone.

This includes things like “the meaning of life is to love” or “love is all you need.” Sorry, Beatles.

And in that realization, I saw that there was choice. Or, at least, fluidity or flexibility in the matter.

I went for several years, carrying along the realization that “the meaning of life is a choice.” With my newfound freedom to choose, I consciously decided on things to choose as “the most important things to me.”

And, quickly, I found myself dissatisfied again and again. I worked with myself and friends on it; we’d decide on a purpose, decide to commit to it, then…not much would happen. Something was missing.

Finding Meaning

Over time and after many conversations with many people, I found that what was meaningful to someone was different for each person. And these things that were meaningful, while some could be explained through psychology or spirituality, for the most part, it didn’t matter why these things were meaningful to the person.

They just were. And simply by the fact that it was meaningful, I saw people arranging their lives…their feelings, their thoughts, and their actions. And I saw this in myself, too. When I looked at what was most meaningful in my life, it just was. And, despite being able to unravel why things were meaningful to me and where it started in my lifetime, it didn’t actually matter. And I didn’t care to change it.

Two Parts, Not One

I soon realized this critical piece – meaning – had been left out of “the purpose of life” question. Purpose is based on acting and doing, not being. I’d been trying to figure out what to do, not how to be.

But simply resting in something that is meaningful – e.g. deeply feeling the pain of animals being senselessly tortured for human consumption – wasn’t enough. Simply resting in the fact that something is meaningful to me isn’t enough. There had to be a complimentary action.

The answer to “what is the meaning of life?” wasn’t the only question. It was “What gives me the most meaning in my life? And how do I serve that meaning through purposeful action?”

In other words, it’s not just “what is the meaning of life?” OR “what is the purpose of life?”

It is both.

Meaning and Purpose, Masculine and Feminine

As you might know, I find the Masculine/Feminine model highly useful. I don’t find it to be the end all, be all, but in terms of understanding how to move through life, I find it useful.

What I found when I saw that meaning and purpose were both separate and equally valuable is that it also fit into the Masculine/Feminine model.

The Feminine is a master of being. The Masculine is a master of doing.

The Feminine is a master of being Love. The Masculine is a master of serving Love.

It would then make sense that what we find most meaningful within us is a window to the fullness of our Feminine. That whatever moves us most deeply – in ecstatic joy or deep pain – comes from the nature and capacity of our Loving. That we feel that joy or we feel that pain because we are Love. If we weren’t, we would be apathetic and not care, let alone experience joy or pain around something.

It would also make sense that we find our desire to serve that meaning – to serve that Love – as a window to the depth of our Masculine. That however deeply we allow ourselves to be moved by what’s most meaningful to us into thorough and complete action comes from our ability and openness to serving Love. Without moving from a place of meaning, we’re cast about in existential despair, whether we recognize it or not.

When Meaning and Purpose are Not Served

This is why many men (most of whom have a Masculine essence) are often very good at doing, but are often disconnected from the recognition of the Love that they are. The way they have singularly cultivated their Masculine has disconnected them from their Feminine. Through that, we see the despair – often acknowledged through a “mid-life crisis” of men who have led very successful, but meaningless, lives.

On the flip side, we also see this with many women (most of whom have a Feminine essence) who are often very good at being, but are often disconnected from the doing necessary to serve that meaning. I want to note that we see this far less now in our cultural evolution – a hugely greater percentage of women have developed their Masculine than men have developed their Feminine. And the women that have chosen to singularly develop their Feminine often find themselves in positions where they are not in control or directing their lives…they are cast about like a small boat in a hurricane, while also feeling a deep pain and ecstatic joy and without the capacity for how to change the world with it.

(How this dynamic plays out, men with under- or over- developed Feminine sides and women with under- or over- developed Masculine sides, is never as straightforward as the two previous paragraphs. This is my disclaimer that I understand I have somewhat over-simplified the situation. I also assert that this is the most common pattern and that evolved women and men go through this process of discovering their complimentary nature at some point in their life.)

Discovering Meaning, Choosing Purpose

Over and over, I’ve found with myself and others that what is most meaningful is closer within reach than we know. Here are some ways to find what is most meaningful to you, and some indicators you might be on the right track:

  • It brings you to tears. For me, where I find the most meaning my life right now is the only thing that regularly and consistently moves me to tears. I’ve also spoken with people who feel so deeply about something that they actually have to avoid it – physically or psychologically – because they are moved almost to non-function.
  • It comes from a source of deep pain. “Meaning” isn’t always pretty, but it is significant. For many people, it is through our pain that we connect most deeply with ourselves and others.
  • It brings you ecstatic joy. I use the word “ecstatic” to differentiate the quality of this kind of joy from the joy you feel on, say, your religious holiday or your birthday.
  • You are moved further to tears when you imagine relieving others of this pain or bringing to others this same sort of joy. To feel the pain or joy is one thing. To be in service of the world from this place of pain or joy is another.
  • You see this pain and joy very clearly out in the world. Often, when you look out into the world, it will feel as though the world is screaming in agony or ecstasy.

Only after you have connected with what is most meaningful to you, then you may discover best how to serve that meaning. If you’re ever confused as to which comes first, always remember that She comes first. While loaded with sexual innuendo, it is also a spiritual axiom…the Feminine always comes first. That may be counter to what our culture projects and may not make sense now (e.g. If the Feminine comes first, why do men sacrifice their relationships for their careers?), but I’ll write more about that another time.

I’ve found that an individual’s Purpose is always in service of what is most meaningful to them. The way that this meaning is served is through a combination of your strengths, talents, passions, and what is most fulfilling.

I’ve left happiness out of that list, but left fulfilling in there. A great example of why I’ve done this is Mother Theresa, who suffered from severe depression. She may have been fulfilled in her work, but happiness was very much secondary.

Find what kind of work fulfills you – and where I’ve found the greatest fulfillment is in using my strengths, talents, and passions to serve others. Sure, it’s a great weekend when I get out and camp and rock climb. But it’s a fulfilling weekend when I make someone’s life better by relieving them of their pain or bringing them joy.

Your Meaning and Purpose Will Change

What is most meaningful to you may never change. How you serve what is most meaningful may change. Likewise, as you connect more deeply with yourself, you may find more profound meaning beneath what you currently recognize as what is most meaningful to you now. And, often, you can’t get beneath what’s there now without first serving what’s there now.

It is a Process

It took me years to really connect with what is most meaningful to me. Even after I found it, it took almost another year with heavy pushing from close and respected friends to design my purpose around it. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t know what is most meaningful to you right now. But do keep at it. Dedicate time to it every day. Sit in silence. Ask your friends. Keep awareness about your day when something feels a little more significant than average. When you find that, feel into it and see how far the feeling goes.

And, even after you’ve found what’s most meaningful and are serving that, keep looking deeper. Keep serving more fully.

Every day.

Until your last breath.


Image Credit: marriedbachelor18

Why and How I’m Beginning Women’s Coaching Work

Somewhere along the way, something changed.

I’ve spent most of my life trying to understand women and relationships. And I’ve spent the vast majority of it really, really bad at understanding women, other people, and relationships. Something always seemed to be so much of an enigma, it felt completely out of sight and out of reach.

In 2007, some pieces I hadn’t seen started coming into my awareness. From 2007 onward, understanding women and relationships (including myself in relationships) was one of my top priorities. In fact, for long periods of time, despite running my own business, it was absolutely my top priority. I would spend days and weeks and months devouring literature, lectures, presentations, etc, from both men and women about psychology, sociology, spirituality, philosophy, relationships, etc. I studied everything from pickup artists to Tony Robbins to Marianne Williamson to “The Rules” to taking a “Calling in the One” course. It was a lot of work, but I knew it was important for me to understand.

Finally, in the March of 2012, some of the most amazing women I know kept telling me over and over and over about the positive impact I was having on them. Based on what they had been reflecting to me, something seemed to be shifting…where instead of trying to understand them, I was now able to help guide them through their own work and growth as women.

But I still didn’t believe it. I looked at my past and saw a history of relationships that I’d ended poorly – some of them, beyond poorly. I saw and felt the guilt and shame I’d had about some of the ways that I’d acted, completely self-unaware, unaware of my own impact on some amazing and delicate women, and very much lacking presence with them in ways that were, sometimes, harmful. I was also in the middle of my own painful, confusing, heart-wrenching relationship work that would last for the rest of 2012.

How was someone like me supposed to actually help women? It made no logical sense to me.

But, no matter how much I rationalized that I was ill-equipped for this kind of work, the most amazing women I’d ever met kept telling me the same thing: how valuable our conversations and guidance were for them and their own growth. I decided in November of 2012, eight months later, to trust those amazing women more than I trusted myself. I decided that I wasn’t going to hold back any more: I decided that the things I’d intuited, combined with the personal and relationship psychology, spirituality, and everything else I’d dumped into my head, heart, and body over the previous six years…all of it would be up and open for discussion.

Sometimes I messed up. Sometimes my own projections or feelings would get mixed up and misinterpreted as theirs. Sometimes I’d say something stupid or offensive. But, most of the time – the vast majority of the time, in fact – I was being told that I was having a profound impact on the women I was talking to and working with.

Without the persistence and amazing support of some good friends – you each know who you are – against my own stubbornness and other psychological junk in the way, I wouldn’t be writing this post and I very well may not have helped as many women as I have in the last few months.

But let me back up for a moment here…

Discovering the Masculine/Feminine Model

In all of the relationship and personal growth work that I did, I found myself returning to two fundamental concepts that served as a useful model for understanding what was both challenging and the solution in men, women, and their relationships.

The model that I kept coming back to was that of masculinity and femininity. I saw that, even further beneath the psychological realm of ego, attachment theory, and your relationship with your parents, was something both profound and incredibly useful in the realm of masculinity and femininity. I spent years diving into the model and how it applied, almost obsessively seeking to understand every nuance of it.

When I worked on my own stuff, I referenced this model and connected with both my masculine and feminine sides. When I worked with other men and women, I found the same masculine/feminine model to be immensely useful. When it came to relationships, I again found the same profound impact.

I want to be clear here and say that I don’t believe the masculine/feminine model is the end-all-be-all. The more I work with it, the more I find that it can serve as a useful context and starting point…once the problem and solutions are understood in this context, we can then work on your psychology, your past, your models of love and relationships, etc. Very quickly, the masculine/feminine model is departed, all the while, continuing to serve as a context and reference point along the way.

Why this is Challenging for Men and Women Today

Since the beginning of mankind, most people followed traditional biological-sex (male/female) roles. Men hunted and gathered and left the home and worked in order to serve the home. Women stayed home to tend the family and home and serve the home with their presence.

This generally served humanity (let’s say, sufficiently) for a very long time.

But then something very important happened: The Industrial Revolution.

With the industrial revolution, three critical things happened. First, the time-cost of living decreased. You didn’t have to work for hours and hours on the farm each day just to eat. You could work for much less time and energy in order to meet your basic needs. Second, mass production increased the quality of life at such a lower cost that, in effect, the cost of living well was democratized. Anyone could live well, regardless of their physical capacities and capabilities or knowledge. The rise of information workers essentially leveled the playing field for both men and women to be able to work and earn similar incomes. Third, knowledge became commoditized and accessible in ways it never had been before. Instead of knowledge being reserved for the rich and privileged, anyone could have access to life-changing information. This raised the overall consciousness and awareness of both men and women of what was possible for themselves and their relationships.

As the decades went on, about a century later, the workplace landscape had shifted so dramatically that it eventually catalyzed a shift in culture to the extent that women were then given equal legal rights to vote, etc. Now, in the early 20th century, not only was the stage set to create the space for women and men to be treated as equals, it was now beginning to get legal recognition as well.

The last major catalyst came during World War II when women took up jobs in factories, jobs typically reserved for men, with Rosie the Riveter becoming iconic in propagating the idea that women can – and should have the opportunity to – do anything a man can do, just as well, if not, better.

In short, over just a couple of centuries, women had claimed and begun developing their masculine side…the part of them that directs their own lives, defines their own purpose, and is wholly self-sufficient.

From this point forward, culturally and legally, women no longer needed men. Period. It wasn’t smooth sailing from here, but the major work had been done.

But what about men? How did all of this affect them?

To be honest, us men are pretty slow. This went on for centuries – where women made efforts to claim their masculine side – before men realized they had the opportunity to claim their feminine side. It wasn’t until 20 years after World War II that it became culturally acceptable for men to do so, giving rise to the hippie generation.

As men began exploring their feminine, they became more flowy, less aggressive, less directed. Peace and Love. Flowy clothes, flowy music, flowy drugs. Direction and purpose, unnecessary.

And as this dynamic played out, women cultivating their masculine and men cultivating their feminine, people as a whole became more whole themselves. We all need access to both parts of ourselves, masculine and feminine. This isn’t to say that we should strive for balance – unless it’s our individual nature, we shouldn’t – but we should be able to recognize our masculine or feminine core essence, cultivate that, and also cultivate the complimentary masculine or feminine parts within us that we deem valuable.

The challenge is that as women cultivated their masculine and men cultivated their feminine, things got confusing. A woman with a developed masculine side most often still has a feminine essence. And a man with a developed feminine side most often still has a masculine essence. (And women can have a masculine core and men can have a feminine core. It’s simply the minority.) But in the cultivation of these complimentary parts, men and women began to lose touch with that essence that’s within them…that deepest, truest part of themselves.

I see this day in and day out. Men that are confused and directionless as they’ve so strongly cultivated their feminine and have no idea what they’re actually doing with their lives, let alone their women. And women, understandably so, aren’t too thrilled with these kinds of men.

And I see women that are exhausted because their masculine is so strongly developed that they actually play that role in their relationships and at work…but that’s not their deepest, truest self either…their heart never rests as they are perpetually playing another persona for the rest of their world… Their heart goes untouched, their yearning turned away from because it’s too painful, and they simply keep doing the best they know to get by.

In our Western culture where the power and impact of the masculine is valued so much more than the feminine (and, in my opinion, very dangerously so), women understandably feel hesitant to relax the masculine side of them and relax into their feminine. In our culture, it’s amazingly rare to see the feminine deeply revered enough to create a very safe, open space for the feminine to flow.

As a man, and behalf of all men, I want to say to women: I’m so sorry we’ve built our culture to deeply neglect the wisdom and beauty inherent in your being. And we’re working on it. And I know it’s slow going…we’re a bit dense, but I believe we’ll get there. There are some of us working very diligently toward serving you better from here on out.

So Why Work with Women?

If us men also need to get our act together, why am I working with women and not men?

It’s a fair question. And the truth is, as my friend Christin put it, that I simply love women. I can work with men (and do with my friends), but it’s much more fulfilling for me to help a woman feel safe and comfortable reconnecting with and opening more fully into her feminine. If I worked with men, I’d just want to punch them until they saw how they’re destroying their relationships by both not revering the femininity of their partner and also by not owning their own masculinity. And I’d rather not up my blood pressure on a daily basis.

In all honesty, working with women is deeply fulfilling to me. For whatever reason, I connect with the pain that women consciously or unconsciously sense by being disconnected from their femininity. I’ve seen women live their whole lives disconnected from it and that unhappiness pains my heart like nothing else. When I can work with a woman and help her through the process of relaxing again back into her feminine, it moves me to tears…in fact, it’s the only thing that consistently moves me to tears. As someone who didn’t cry for almost ten years, I find this significant.

How I’m Working with Women

There’s an amazing group here in Boulder called Daring Divas. Jessie May, Hope, and Liz – three absolutely amazing women – believe enough in my work that they’ve given me several opportunities in the upcoming months to design and lead workshops for their group of 1,100+ women. Not only that, but they also believe enough in me doing this work that I’ll be the first man to ever lead a workshop for them. I’m so incredibly humbled and honored.

In addition to women’s workshops, I’ll also be working with my coach and friend Christin Myrick leading couples workshops. Our first one is the first weekend in March and we’ve got some other neat plans for soon after which will be accessible to anyone around the world. So stay tuned for that.

I will be taking one-on-one coaching clients beginning in February. The work that I have done with my amazing women friends here has all been one-on-one. I love it and they keep telling me how much of an impact it’s having on their own life and personal growth as women. I’ll be offering six-week coaching sessions of 1.5 hours a week.

I’ll be writing an ebook and leading a multi-day workshop here in Boulder which will be recorded and offered for sale before the end of the year.

I’ll be offering a $9/mo subscription to weekly content, interviews, private forums, etc, through as well.

I also want to note that I’m still running Ontolo. In fact, I’m more excited about Ontolo than I have been in a long time. So that will still be a priority.

Finally, I want to say thank you to all of the wonderful women I’ve known and worked with through the years and especially those I’ve come to know these past few months. You are each an inspiration. Seeing your courage and willingness to grow and change gives me even more inspiration to continue serving as best as I can.

Image Credit: aigle_dore

Feminine Depth

I believe that, in addition to turning within and discovering our truest natures, that our relationships offer us the next greatest and clearest perspective of who we are and what our values have become at that moment. For me, every relationship (particularly during difficulties) – romantic, friend, family, colleague or otherwise – seems to expose me to more of my own faults, strengths, weaknesses and gifts. Likewise, this same thinking process becomes applied to others who are in my life. I’m fairly introverted and prefer to have a smaller set of very close friends than a large number of acquaintances. Not only do I prefer this, but, looking at my life, this is also what I live.

When I have a romantic relationship end, I spent most days thinking through what happened, why, what I could have done better, what they could have done better (from my requests), what we both did well or not and what gifts we both enjoyed giving and receiving.

I came across this quote recently that echoes an observation I’d been intuitively been making:

Energy is not depth. The more energy and less depth you have, the more nuts you seem to someone who’s got consciousness.”

- David Deida

As I’ve been making this distinction, I’ve observed people with a tremendous amount of feminine energy. After all, it’s something I inherently find attractive.

But I see a lot of people who simply aren’t connected with her own depth. Their disagreements may be shallow. Working on things together might only be on the surface. Activities and time spent together may rarely run deep. Focus might change quickly, distractions prevail and there may be a general inconsistency that permeates this kind of person’s being.

These aren’t bad people. In fact, most of them are pretty incredible and I love them dearly. Some simply aren’t in touch with the depth of their own femininity.

And, looking around, I see many women – the majority, in fact – who are very disconnected from the depths of their own femininity as well.

* Note: This is a relative assessment of depth. There are plenty of women (most?) who have a far greater depth than I, and would find me shallow, comparatively.

What does this mean? Let’s first say this: Depth is not a “static” assessment. Someone isn’t X amount deep and always remains exactly that deep or not for the rest of their lives. Depth is something that can be cultivated.

Look at it this way: If you want to dig a hole in the ground, how deep is the hole? The hole is as deep as you choose to make it.

Put another way, and with a metaphor I find to be quite representative of the feminine, how deep into the ocean can you go? There was a time when we couldn’t go more than, say, 100 feet deep. Now, we go thousands of feet deep, because we’ve chosen to. Will you reach the bottom? Yes. But even the bottom of the ocean is created by the shifting of plates and the magma in the mantle below the earth’s crust. How deep do you want to go?

Again, masculinity and femininity are knobs that both men and women have, with a new set of knobs in every context of living. Men may choose to explore the depths of their own femininity just as well as women. At the drop of a hat, how long does it take for you to break out into dance? Do you need music? Or will you feel the movement of life and the universe itself channeling through your body? The same movement of life that’s always there, pervasive, ready to be observed if we so choose to look in its direction…

What, particularly, is feminine depth?

Consider it this way: the feminine is oceanic, constantly flowing and moving, filling the space surrounding it…it doesn’t move with the tides, it is the tides. Just as you may have a calm day on the ocean, deeper feminine forces are always at work further below…currents and undercurrents, heat sources on the ocean floor bubbling up, plates shifting and causing tsunamis… The feminine is not only moving, it is movement.

Think of the feminine women or men in your life. For simplicity, place them into two categories, those who are directed and moved from their depths and those who are directed and moved by things happening on the surface.

“On the surface,” continuing the metaphor, might be the waves crashing on the beach (a momentary occurrence), a storm system coming in (external forces/life situations), or simply the wind blowing and causing choppy waves.

Let’s look at “depth” as the deepest currents moving below the surface of the ocean…strong and powerful (after all, there’s no destruction that any masculine force can create that would compare to massive amounts of destruction from flooding, etc). These are the currents that can both destroy a country with tsunamis, but also allow the world to be more connected through shipping, etc. But, make no mistake, the deep feminine can not be controlled. It is something to move with. It can be directed only through the deepest masculine, carving the empty space to be filled with the flow of the feminine (imagine how Puget Sound was carved by glaciers, then filled to become a part of the ocean).

For the feminine, the more connected you are with your own depths, the greater the force you will be in your life. You’ll support and fill the rest of the world and the world of the masculine, and you’ll also have the power to destroy it…if the mood strikes from your depths.

The shallower you are in your feminine − with everything occurring on the surface – the more “nuts” you’ll seem – to both men and women -, as you shift and move with every little change that happens externally in your life.

Another way of putting this is: Are currents moved by the waves, or are waves moved by the currents?

When I tell people that there is great strength in the feminine, and that it’s much more powerful than the masculine, peoples’ eyes glaze over. They simply miss it, it just doesn’t make sense in our culture.

Our culture has become so directed and focused on valuing the masculine, that we required a decades-long social revolution simply for women to have basic, human rights. By the time the feminist movement came along, it was so directed by masculine energy that parts of it became misguided to the point that femininity was sometimes lost and replaced with masculinity. To maintain the balance of polarity in relationships, many men cultivated their feminine nature. It’s where the hippie men and metrosexuals (and other forms of men who lead more with their femininity) came from. And, asking most women who are deeply feminine, that’s not the kind of man they’re looking for to balance the polarity in their relationship.

This isn’t bad, per se, as achieving the ability to switch between the masculine and feminine can lead to a fuller, more whole and complete life during this short time we have on earth. But to lose touch with your own core (again, not all men are masculine at their core and not all women are feminine at their core) leads to a deep and confusing dissatisfaction. The most common laments I hear from men and women are “Where are all the real women?” and “Where are all the real men?”

They’re still here, they’re simply disconnected from their depths.

I originally wrote this in February of 2012 on I have updated it slightly and published it here.

Image Credit: Lel4nd