Vic Strecher: This is really exciting, Winston! My very first HuffPost post.
Winston, The Dung Beetle: Don't you mean our very first HuffPost post.
Vic: Sorry. What's on your mind?
Winston: Purpose in life.
Vic: I've been hearing about that a lot lately. What's up?
Winston: Well, as you know, Vic, humans have been deeply connected to the idea of living with purpose for thousands of years. When I was a young scarab...
Vic: Scarab? I thought you were a dung beetle.
Winston: Well, yes, I am a dung beetle. But I was also the inspiration for the scarab god, Khepri, to the Ancient Egyptians.
Vic: And what were you the god of?
Winston: Rebirth and transformation.
Vic: No kidding?
Winston: Look it up. Now, as I was saying, when I was a young scarab, we didn't choose our own purposes. The Pharaoh would simply hand them out like gingersnaps.
Vic: I guess that's also what kings, queens, and religious leaders have done throughout history. Back then, if you tried to create your own purpose, you...
Winston: ... were killed, tortured, maimed, persecuted, banished. It's an old story.
Vic: So what's the new story?
Winston: The new story is that we still need a purpose. But now most of us don't have one imposed on us. We need to find our own purpose!
Vic: This is the basis of existentialist philosophy, which is all about how to live/conduct one's life, right?
Winston: Right. As Friedrich Nietszche said, "Is there any up or down left? Are we not straying as if through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space?"
Vic: Friedrich Nietszche? A lot of people now think of him as a proto-Nazi, don't they? He always had that stern German expression...
Winston: Unfortunately, some people do believe that. But Nietszche was no Nazi; in fact, he was deeply respected by Viktor Frankl, who was actually imprisoned in three Nazi concentration camps and eventually wrote the famous Man's Search for Meaning. Frankl often quoted Nietzsche's famous words: "He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how."
Vic: So Nietszche was really a proto-existentialist. By the way, Winston, are you proto... plasm?
Winston: Well, not really. I'm actually a metaphor.
Vic: A metaphor for what?
Winston: The transformation of a life of randomness and chaos to one of transcending purpose.
Vic: What do actually do you mean by purpose? Is purpose in life just a goal?
Winston: It's bigger than a goal. It's a reason for being on this planet. You may have more than one purpose in life, and your purposes can change over time, but we're talking about the reason for your existence.
Vic: Didn't George Bernard Shaw say that: "We should all be obliged to appear before a board every five years, and justify our existence ... on pain of liquidation?"
Winston: My, wasn't he in a tizzy.
Vic: Well what if there's actually no real justification for our existence on this planet? What if life really is meaningless? Can we really have a purpose then?
Winston: Do you know what my purpose is?
Vic: No, what?
Winston: ROLLING A GIANT BALL OF EXCREMENT!
Vic: OK, I get your point.
Winston: Even philosophers who thought that life may have no meaning -- people like Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus -- thought that it was important to have a purpose. Even if it's nothing more than rolling a dung ball.
Vic: So Sartre and Camus are now a part of history. Why is any of this new?
Winston: Vic, I've seen a lot of centuries, and I have to say that, for all of this modern life, your 21st century is rather dreadful! You care more about some mindless chippie on a reality show than you do about making the most of the limited, valuable time you're on this planet. Your society is boring me to death as you literally bore yourselves to death.
Vic: I'm still not hearing anything new...
Winston: There's now a science to the philosophy demonstrating that a strong purpose in life is associated with lower risk of Alzheimer's disease, stroke, heart attack. They are more resilient to traumatic events. A strong purpose is associated with better sex.
Vic: Better sex? You're kidding!
Winston: Sex is one of the two things we dung beetles never kid about.
Vic: The other being...
Winston: Dung, my boy. Don't try my patience. Actually, people who develop a stronger purpose even experience greater repair of their chromosomes!
Vic: I can see we have a lot more to talk about ... purpose in life, death, happiness, resilience, sex. About where science is now meeting philosophy.
Winston: Can't wait, Vic!
In the mean time, if you're interested in learning more about purpose, please go to my website: www.dungbeetle.org. You can even download an app on the website or through iTunes ("On Purpose from Dung Beetle Press") that helps you find and maintain your purpose and the vitality for achieving your purpose. It's free! I look forward to seeing you there!
For more discussion of self-transcending purpose in life, and a free app to help you find and monitor your purpose in life, visit Winston's www.dungbeetle.org.