Purpose is a statement that articulates the reason behind an action. It simply answers the question “Why will you do what you will do?“

meaning, on the other hand, is the interpretation of an object, concept, event, or human life. Purpose is articulated before an action or a project is performed. If you articulate it after the fact, you are giving meaning, not purpose, to the action.

When life is said to be “meaningful” it simply means, we can “say more” about it because it means more to people and that is possible because more significant things happened in that life.

Both purpose and meaning are mind-dependent (Purpose is conscious, Meaning is a mental construction). Both are contents and creations of the mind, but they are differentiated because they serve different objectives.

One way of describing the relationship of the two is that by living with purpose (i.e., being very intentional about your actions and life in general), you create a more meaningful life.

In other words, a meaningful life is a poem, which instead of holding a single interpretation, could support two, three, or more reading.

And what I am proposing is both a testament to quantity and quality. Living does not mean doing and doing and doing but doing the right things and doing them with attention and love and kindness. This is where that rich meaning comes from.