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Purpose is deliberately thought-through goal-directedness.

According to some philosophies, it is central to a good human life. Some people think that God assigns purposes to people and that it is their mission to fufill it. Others say that purposes are freely chosen by individuals, or not chosen, in which case their lives lack meaning. Among these, some say that natural propensities may determine what sorts of purposes a person needs to pursue, but do not guarantee that he or she will pursue them, that being dependent on free choice.

Pursuit of a career is perhaps the most widespread of long-term purposes that make life meaningful according to such philosophies. Helping the needy is an often-cited example, not as widespread.

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