Skip to Main Content

TUS Logo

Positive living and Well-being resource

May 2022 Meaning

Meaning and purpose in Life


“There is an internal landscape, a geography of the soul: we search for its outlines all our lives. Those who are lucky enough to find it ease like water over stone, onto its fluid contours, and are home.
Some find it in a place of their birth; others may leave a seaside town, parched, and find themselves refreshed in the desert. There are those born in rolling countryside who are really only at ease in the intense and busy loneliness of the city.
For some, the search is for the imprint of another; a child or a mother, a grandfather or a brother, a lover, a husband, a wife, or a foe.
We may go through our lives happy or unhappy, successful or unfulfilled, loved, or unloved, without ever standing cold with the shock of recognition, without ever feeling the agony as the twisted iron in our soul unlocks itself and we slip at last into place.”

Fiction Book: Damage by Josephine Hart: J. Hart (2003) Damage. Vintage books: London, 1-2p

“He knocks at all doors, strays and roams,

Nay, hath not so much wit as some stones have,

Which in the darkest nights point to their homes,

        By some hid sense their Maker gave ;

Man is the shuttle, to whose winding quest

              And passage through these looms

God order'd motion, but ordain'd no rest”.

Poem: Man by Henry Vaughan Verse 4Source: Vaughan, Henry. The Poems of Henry Vaughan, Silurist. vol I. E. K. Chambers, Ed. London, Lawrence & Bullen Ltd., 1896. 169-170

“………But often, in the world's most crowded streets,   

But often, in the din of strife, 

There rises an unspeakable desire 

After the knowledge of our buried life,  ...

…And we have been on many thousand lines, 

And we have shown, on each, spirit and power, 

But hardly have we, for one little hour, 

Been on our own line, have we been ourselves;     

Hardly had skill to utter one of all 

The nameless feelings that course through our breast, 

But they course on for ever unexpress'd. 

And long we try in vain to speak and act 

Our hidden self, and what we say and do      

Is eloquent, is well—but 'tis not true! “…………..

Only—but this is rare—  …………..

…..   A bolt is shot back somewhere in our breast 

And a lost pulse of feeling stirs again!      

The eye sinks inward, and the heart lies plain, 

And what we mean, we say, and what we would, we know, 

A man becomes aware of his life's flow, 

And hears its winding murmur, and he sees 

The meadows where it glides, the sun, the breeze………….

Extracts from Poem: The buried life by Mathhew Arnold :

M. Arnold (1852) The buried life Available at:

“An aged man is but a paltry thing,

A tattered coat upon a stick, unless

Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing

For every tatter in its mortal dress,………..”

Extract from poem Sailing to Byzantium:  Yeats, W.B (1989)  The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats Available at:

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice --

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

"Mend my life!"

each voice cried.

But you didn't stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voice behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do --

determined to save

the only life that you could save.




Oliver, M. (1963) The journey, In: No voyage and other poems. Available at:

“The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe to it.

Being alive is the meaning”

Joseph Campbell, 

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

The Dalai Lama

“There is not one single big cosmic meaning for all; there is only the meaning we each give to our life. An individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person.”

Anais Nin

All available at:

“My dog doesn't worry about the meaning of life. She may worry if she doesn't get her breakfast, but she doesn't sit around worrying about whether she will get fulfilled or liberated or enlightened. As long as she gets some food and a little affection, her life is fine”

Joko Beck

Available at:

Novenber 2022 Courage in hard times

Courage and difficult times:


“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Winston Churchill

 “If you’re going through hell, keep going”

Winston Churchill

“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”

― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

“Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course.”

William Shakespeare

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us and when we bring what lies within us.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

― Lao Tzu

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

The Holy Bible: Joshua 1:9; Isaiah 41:10)

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”

― E.E. Cummings

“Bran thought about it. 'Can a man still be brave if he's afraid?'

'That is the only time a man can be brave,' his father told him.”

― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

Galadriel: “Mithrandir... why the Halfling?” Gandalf: ..”.I don't know. Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I have found. I've found it is the small things, everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay. Simple acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps it is because I am afraid... and he gives me courage.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

“It is not despair, for despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

 “Wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”

 Helen Keller

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”

Randy Pausch

“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”

The Talmud

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

 Haruki Murakami

“I will breathe. I will think of solutions. I will not let my worry control me. I will not let my stress level break me. I will simply breathe. And it will be okay. Because I don’t quit.”

Shayne McClendon

Kahlil Gibran on Good & Evil

“Of the good in you I can speak, but not of the evil.

For what is evil but good tortured by its own hunger and thirst?

Verily when good is hungry it seeks food even in dark caves, and when it thirsts it drinks even of dead waters.

You are good when you are one with yourself.

Yet when you are not one with yourself you are not evil.

For a divided house is not a den of thieves; it is only a divided house.

And a ship without rudder may wander aimlessly among perilous isles yet sink not to the bottom.”

From ‘The prophet’ by Kahlil Gibran

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”

Khalil Gibran

Andy Dufresne: [in letter to Red] “Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

The Shawshank Redemption