Updated: Feb 18, 2021
As with all reviews on this website, our goal is not to provide a complete overview of the book; rather, it is to examine how the book relates to the meaning of life. About the Book: The Meaning of Life by Steve Pavlina is a short book published in 2012 on Amazon, and 2005 on his website. The book totals 86 pages, and is currently found on Kindle for less than $1, but also on his website for free. In the first section of the book, Pavlina recounts his early life, college years, and years as a game developer. This includes his loss of faith in organized religions, arrest for grand theft, and triumphant return to the right path or what he'd refer to as his religion of personal growth.
After getting out of jail free on a technicality, Pavlina decided to return to college, of which he completed in near record time. During his journey, he recounts various philosophies of life, e.g., Socrates dialectic debates, and Aristotle's eudaimonia; or as Pavlina's would put it, Aristotle's quest to find the right way to live, which consist of two components: virtuous action and contemplation.
Pavlina declares upon examination that finding the best possible life was a futile expenditure, because it requires one to know all possible paths. A mathematical impossibility. But, it is possible to do our best by cooperating with evolution: which includes an evolution of the self, and dedication to helping others to evolve. Towards the end of the book, Pavlina elaborates that he is not referring to evolution and growth in the biological sense, but rather in the noosphere (a sphere of human thought). As such, he finds his purpose stating, I see the main purpose of my life as serving the process of evolution... Everything else in my life is secondary compared to this and must justify its fitness for this agenda. Even though Palvina isn't referring to the biological sense of evolution or growth, there are important analogies in the biological world that offer caveats, like cancer, and dinosaurs! Not all growth and evolutionary paths are "good."
On the sense of purpose, Pavlina also states: Your purpose isn’t really something you discover. It would be more accurate to say that your purpose is something you co-create based on your relationship to reality., and from his website: My life purpose is: to care deeply, connect playfully, love intensely, and share generously; to joyfully explore, learn, grow, and prosper; and to creatively, brilliantly, and honorably serve the highest good of all.
Context is very important in defining the highest good of all for Pavlina. Similar to what was highlighted in the movie A Serious Man, although it was not explicitly stated in the movie. What is good in Catholicism may not be be viewed as good in Buddhism or Hinduism.
One disappointing aspect of the book is that towards the end, it consistently refers the reader to his website, instead of merely having the material as part of the book. For example, the chapter title Discover Your Purpose, starts to outline two methods to discover your purpose, which include the use of both emotional and rational intelligence. But then, refers you to his website for: How to Discover Your Life Purpose in About 20 Minutes. The article is rather short, so it would have fit nicely within the context of the book. The author also refers the reader to the website for an introduction to the meaning of life, but this is just the beginning of his book again. So this is cyclic and unnecessary—as if the author just copied/pasted his blog into the book, which would be okay—but best then to take out the redundancies if you plan to sell the thing! In short, if you are going to create a book from blog posts and sell it, put some effort into making it worth the purchase rather than having a copy/paste job. Also, don't copy/paste emoticons that will show up as broken images on the Kindle version.
Overall, this is a pretty average book on the meaning of life. There is nothing in this book that stuck out as spectacularly new or interesting. But if you are a fan of Steve Pavlina, you may want to check it out. Overall, it wasn't a bad read, and it was well-written, it just wasn't spectacular, and it needed to be polished to fit into a book format. The work also tends to focus more on purpose as opposed to meaning which decreases its overall meaning of life relevance.
Overall - 4
Meaning of Life Relevance - 4
Uniqueness – 5
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