9/11 prompted a reexamination of our lives. When working people were asked to choose how much they felt a description of work as a job, career, or a calling described their own relationship to their work, two interesting trends emerged.
You know what really sucks (so far, anyway) about getting old? LOOKING FOR THE DAMN MEANING! I'm at the last third of my life. The first third went by very very slowly. The second third, however, flew by.
In my discrete mathematics class at UT Austin, my professor taught us all choices have consequences. When doing math, we have to care. In a class on rings, we discussed 1+1. The biggest lesson turned out not to be what 1+1 is, but what we define 1+1 to be. For instance, if we restricted the range to 0 and 1, would the answer be 0? Or would the answer be 1?
Don't lose sight on what matters.
Of course, the pursuit of happiness isn't all sunshine and rainbows and mugs of tea and smiling children. Sometimes we need to tackle our insecurities and weaknesses, and we can't just ignore our draining jobs and nagging relatives. But the practices here represent the other side of the coin, the one we often neglect: seeing, appreciating, and mobilizing the good.
Meaning in life without religion can be found in the many familiar, meaning-conferring elements that aren't religious in nature. Our lives will end permanently some day. All that matters is what our lives are like while they last.