People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life. I don't think that's what we're really seeking. I think that what we're seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.
...Global patterns emerge from evolutionary innovations that arise and spread locally. In this view, selection acts most rapidly and most forcefully at small scales, where feedback loops are tight, and much more weakly and slowly at broader scales, where feedbacks are diffuse. This applies especially to the evolution of human behaviors; what often passes for altruistic or group-oriented actions can generally be traced to hidden benefits that reward the altruist, or its genes, on fairly short time scales. Therein lies a lesson for environmental management: people behave most responsibly when they can most clearly see a payoff.
— Simon Levin, Complexity and the Commons