Dear Dr. Donna,

What is the meaning of life?

Sincerely,
Existential Crisis

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Dr. Donna Says . . .

Dear Existential Crisis,

Ahhhhhh … the age-old, oft-repeated question about the meaning of life.

Profound? Yes. Original? Not so much.

The essence of your question has reverberated through time in various forms: What’s it all about? Who are we? Why are we here? What is our purpose?

It’s been debated by the world’s greatest philosophers, preachers, prophets and cynics. And there are lots of “isms” that attempt to explain the mystery—subjectivism and objectivism; nihilism and hedonism; spiritualism and naturalism; positivism and supernaturalism; mohism and humanism.

But honestly, I think that everything I really need to know about life I learned from my cat…

🐱 Take a nap. Stretch. Rinse. Repeat. Preferably in a sunbeam.
🐱 Absolutely everything, when viewed in the right light, is a toy.
🐱 Purr, coo and mew whenever possible, but be able and willing to hiss and scratch when necessary.
🐱 Seek out the high ground.
🐱 Keep yourself well-groomed.
🐱 Realize we all chase our tails from time to time.
🐱 Don’t be too predictable.
🐱 Dig your claws into whatever you do.
🐱 If you make a mistake, just act as if you intended it.
🐱 Cuteness is half-way to earning forgiveness.
🐱 If you feel the urge to run around in circles for no reason at all, follow your heart. Even if it is 3 am.
🐱 Never forget that once you were considered a god.
🐱 Live as though you have 9 lives—but make each one count.

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Someone Once Said . . .

“Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.”
—Joseph Campbell

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
—Shakespeare

“Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a purpose.”
—Garrison Keillor

“I have lived with several Zen masters—all of them cats.”
—Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

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Recommended Reading

For more info on these topics take a look at these titles (synopses from Amazon.com):

Every Time I Find the Meaning of Life, They Change It: Wisdom of the Great Philosophers on How to Live by Daniel Klein

As a young college student studying philosophy, Klein filled a notebook with short quotes from the world’s greatest thinkers, hoping to find some guidance on how to live the best life he could. Now, from the vantage point of his eighth decade, Klein revisits the wisdom he relished in his youth with this collection of philosophical gems, adding new ones that strike a chord with him at the end of his life. From Epicurus to Emerson and Camus to the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr—whose words provided the title of this book—each pithy extract is annotated with Klein’s inimitable charm and insights

Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl

Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the experiences of others he treated later in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose.

A Cat’s Tale, One Cat’s Search for The Meaning of Life by Lindy Lindemann (Author), Jody Wheeler (Illustrator)

This book will lead you down a path to follow your dreams. So, you will find true wisdom, your special place in the world, your purpose in life and your true identity. Tom, the cat, finds these things for himself during this story. This book shows that when a student is ready the teacher will appear.

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Questions for Dr. Donna? Send them to

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Donna Roberts is a native upstate New Yorker who lives and works in Europe. She holds a Ph.D., specializing in the field of Media Psychology. When she is researching or writing she can usually be found at her computer buried in rescue cats.