It's like having something to live for.
You may have heard it said about people when they died "their lives didn't count for much". This is said about people who live self centered lives.
Paris Hilton, by what I see in the media (and that is all I know of her) seems to live a hedonistic life style. She has no meaning. She could seek meaning, ie she could find things to do that would mean that when she died she would be remembered as more than an air head. This would make her feel better in herself as well.
Seeking meaning means seeking value and having something to live for.
Good question and a complex one.
We look at things around us and we can say "that's worth the price" or "that person is worth knowing". We give values (worth) to things, and to relationships. Built into our human nature is a very strong desire that our own lives have worth. The problem is that we don't have a framework to measure the worth of our own lives. This concept of our lives having worth is the same as the concept of having meaning.
Many people measure their worth through the praise (both real and imagined praise) of others. Let's say I stop and help someone fix a flat tire. That person will thank me and I can imagine others telling me what a good person I am. I get good feelings of self worth. The problem with this is that I am really doing my good deed of fixing the tire in order to get good feelings, not because I really want to help the other person. When I honestly think about it, the imagined praise I was getting goes away because I am only acting in my own behalf. I am really using that person with the flat tire to get praise from him and that's not praiseworthy at all.
What is it that I am supposed to do here on earth? Constantly seek good feelings? That doesn't satisfy my need for worth. I have to pretend (fool myself) that in doing my good deed, my own need for good feelings didn't have anything to do with it.
Seeking my own worth through doing good deeds always involves some amount of self deception.
Some people reason that the human need for worth was put into our human nature by our Creator (God) in order to get us to seek Him. In this case, self worth comes from a relationship of love and not from some good deeds that we do. It is like a small child who has worth just because of the love of the parents and not because of anything the child can do. Love is seen as something far more than just good feelings; it has to be seen as a different state of being. Love has to be seen, not as a feeling, but as a process of dissolving the boundaries between people and between God and us.
I know this is probably hard to understand. You can email me if you want to continue.
I think we all have this feeling that we were put here on earth with a specific mission (purpose). Having something to accomplish is what we call meaning.
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