Ecclesiastes 1:3 (ESV)

3 What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?

When did people first start thinking that all is vanity? The answer is after the Fall, when Adam and Eve began to realize that a life apart from God is really a very difficult life. They express this when their second son is born. They give him the name Abel. The meaning of this name is vanity, breath and emptiness, a vapour. Life in this world is only temporary. Because of the fall man has become weak and mortal. People who come to understand this will then necessarily ask the question: why exactly am I on earth? What is the point of life and work? Why do we do it? It then seems that life has no value. Isn’t everything in vain? You may be a hard-working person, put in a lot of effort and get tired. But what purpose does it serve? Why put in so much effort when all the results thereof will eventually disappear anyway?