I'm writing some literature, and I'd like to grab the reader's attention in the first sentence by asking what is the meaning of life. Except, I'd like to know the best word (or short phrase) to use to ask such a question.

For example, I'm asking the question "What do you think of your destiny?"

But is "Destiny" the best word to use here?

  • 1
    The "meaning of life" is such a common phrase (over 300,000 occurences in books in the past 25 years, according to this Google Books search) that I'm not sure why you'd have an aversion to using that phrase, unless you find it trite.
    – J.R.
    Oct 12, 2012 at 0:54
  • Why not just ask "What do you think of your life?" Destiny is a word more used when talking about the future, either personal or not. Depending on what you mean, it (destiny) might be the right word.
    – Souta
    Oct 12, 2012 at 1:40
  • 1
    We all know the meaning of life in a single word: survival. But that doesn't make for an interesting question since the survival of every life became a social entitlement & human right, regardless of whether one wants to survive or expire. Asking a trite question remotely similar to "What do you think of your destiny?" will arrest no reader's attention, I'm afraid. Not these days. Only ejaculations will, e.g., "{Your death! / Death!} {Thought about it lately / Considered it lately / Foreseen it recently / Dreamed about it recently}?" or "Why shouldn't you shoot yourself? Think about it."
    – user21497
    Oct 12, 2012 at 1:57
  • @BillFranke So wish I could mark that as 'best answer'.
    – Souta
    Oct 12, 2012 at 2:02
  • 2
    @FumbleFingers: While I agree with your sentiments, I'd argue that survival isn't merely a subjective response: it's the response prompted by Darwin's theory of evolution. The ability to adapt to one's environment by a species-wide development of traits that have survival value should be sufficient to justify that answer. Anything else, I'd argue, is purely subjective and perhaps, as with "42", frivolous. This Q is about good writing, not grammar or usage. Asking boring old Qs is not good writing. Good question, good answers, wrong forum. Let's move everything to Writers?
    – user21497
    Oct 12, 2012 at 4:06

2 Answers 2

  • Purpose?

What is your purpose?

What is your purpose in life?

What purpose do you/does your life serve?


Sometimes understatement can be effective:

What is your reason for being?
Why are you here?

Or maybe just the apocryphal philosophy course final exam:


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