Recently I’ve had a thought that occurs to me everyday.
Why do people want to live?
*Before I go any further don’t think of this as a death wish upon my self or something else basic. I’m just genuinely curious!
I’m not sure exactly where this thought started but it hasn’t left my mind so I had to ask some people that inspire me or that I talk to daily why they are still alive. That wording sounds horrible haha. The most common answers I got were “To be successful.”, “To start a family & watch my kids grow.”, and “To finish that project I’ve been working on.” Some less common ones were to simply survive and to “not be another kid on the news that put a bullet through their head.”
I can understand the not wanting to be another suicidal kid on the news because killing yourself is easy and I don’t like easy. Harder things like continuing to live give you a reason to live so that’s viable. What I don’t really understand is just wanting to survive or living for someone else. I know that there’s a thin line between the two examples that I’ve just brought up, but let me try to explain my thought process.
“I’m living because my parents worked hard for me to have a good life.”
I understand that you want to sort of repay your parents back for their hard work, but honestly they could have not reproduced or ended their lives so they wouldn’t have to worry about taking care of another human. Why did they want to live? To have a family? Why? Because their parents did the same thing they did with you? Is it just a long chain of being indebted to the one who gave life to you? Or did they think that creating another life would give them a greater happiness than they’ve ever experienced?
“I want to survive and not just live. Just living isn’t enough. Surviving gets you what you want.”
So this person may be living to buy a house and a nice car. They may be living to show everyone around them up. But why put in the effort when you could just end your life and not have to worry about appearances? Does this tie into the “not wanting to be another kid on the news who killed themselves.”? Cue article link: http://public.wsu.edu/~taflinge/biology.html#preserve If you weren’t keen on the article I’ll paste an excerpt:
THE BIOLOGICAL BASIS OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR
The three main elements biology contributes to human behavior are:
2) the reason for self-preservation, reproduction
3) a method to enhance self-preservation and reproduction, greed.
The article focuses more on environmental and evolutionary aspects of human behavior, but I’m more interested in the psychological approach.
These are some responses that I received to my question. I asked some people that I admire as well as some friends.
When someone asks me to explain what motivates me to get up in the morning, to be a part of the outside world, to live at all, then I would have to say that it depends on what current stage of my life I find myself in. Today, I was motivated by the fact that finals week is over and I could venture out into the sunny, yet cool day. I would find a nice café to hole up in and relaxingly write some personal fiction by the large windows. Motivated by the idea that I have no class attendance to be present for or no work that needed to be done, I awoke with a plan of my own devise, the freedom to spend my day however I saw fit without a professor or boss to dictate my itinerary.
But sometimes, our plans do not always work out the way we want them to. Taking today’s example further, instead of getting ready and leaving my place in the early afternoon, I ended up continuing my How I Met Your Mother marathon [for the fourth time] and only left my place around 7:30pm. Frankly, I am a little disappointed in myself; having wasted away a perfectly beautiful day by watching the lives of fictional characters while my own life lay stagnant under the bed sheets, with only left-over coffee and delivery food to keep me company. This is what happens when I have no obligations and responsibilities to force myself out the door. I would not necessarily have to be depressed to not see a point in rushing out of bed, but I would need to see a point none the less.
There are days I fail to find motivation because I remember the bitter after tastes of how previous plans were foiled by life: numerous plans concocted with a girl you were once convinced of marrying, only to end up to be rendered useless as she becomes the girl you were convinced you would never get over. Plans such as the greatest welcome home party you planned for your friend in the Army, only to end up helping plan his funeral instead. There were times in my life when motivation would elude me because I saw no future whatsoever. I once knew a girl very dear to me passed away when I was fifteen years old. What followed next was a period of my life I still refer to as my “dark ages” – days filled with a lot of partying and random hook ups.
Some often say that to truly live as if today was the last day of one’s life. But I had lived under that pretense. In my dark ages, I had not one reason that made it eager for me to go to fall asleep at all. I had become a rōnin of sorts; willing to fight for a cause that I simply could not find. To live without a cause can often be more dementing than anything. It gradually eats away at you, stealing whatever sanity it is that you hold on so dearly. It causes you to lose hope, and that is what it all comes down to, is it not? Hope is the reason any person on this planet deems it to be worth braving the cruel world outside your doorstep.
Despite how often I moan and groan of being late for class, of my boss tearing me a new one if I fail to show up, I’m often reminded just how much I do love having a purpose to wake up to. I find myself hoping that by going to class, my professor will enlighten my mind a little bit further, that I can hear stories of how someone made it out of the Army just fine, and that maybe the girl in the third row will agree to going for a cup of coffee sometime. I hope that in the long run, all the piles of homework and stressful exams will pay off, helping me find a better job than my current one. And even then, I hope to have more great moments with my co-workers, as I do from time to time. I hope that, despite some people and past experiences telling me otherwise, there is a purpose to be found and fulfilled in the day I wake up to.
In the end, humanity is motivated to live because, as the German proverb goes, die Hoffnung stirbt zuletzt – hope dies last.
How do I keep getting up in the morning and stay motivated? Simple, because I try to never take anything for granted and I learn how to appreciate how beautiful life in general really is. In my mind, if I’m ever sad or mad for a long period of time, then I’m doing it wrong.
You can never be depressed; you can be distracted, absent minded of the life that populates. Not aware of the life that surrounds you: dolphins, forests, seas, mountains, rivers. Do not fall in which others have fallen, that suffer for a human. When in the world, there are 7 billion. Besides, it is not so terrible to live alone. Deciding every single moment what I want to do, and thanks to the solitude I know myself, a somewhat fundamental thing to live. Do not fall in which others have fallen, that feel old because they are 70 years old and forgetting that Moses directed the exodus in his 80’s and Rubinstein interpreted Chopin like no one else in his 90’s. You can never be depressed, you can be absent minded. Believing that you have lost something is impossible, because all was given to you. You did not make a single hair off your head; therefore you cannot be an owner… Besides, life does not remove you of things, it frees you of things. From the cradle to the tomb is a school, so what you call problems are actually lessons. You have never lost anyone, the one that died simply got ahead of us, in our time we all go, besides the best of him, his love, continues in your heart. Who would be able to say that someone is dead when they are remembered? There is not death: there is a pass over. And in the other side, marvelous people have existed: Gandhi, Michelangelo, Whitman, San Augustine, Mother Teresa, your ancestors and my grandmother, that believed that poverty brings you near love, because money distracts us with too many things, and moves us away, making us distrustful. Do only what you love and you will be happy, the one that does what he loves, is blessedly condemned to success, that will arrive when should arrive, because what should be will be, and will arrive naturally. Do not do anything by obligation neither by commitment, but by love. And without effort because the natural force of life moves you. Then, there will be fullness and in that fullness all is possible. Accept yourself, put yourself against the mirror and know that that creature that you are seeing is a miracle; and decide right now to be happy because happiness is an acquisition. Happiness is not a right but a duty, because if you are not happy, you are embittering all the ones that love you. A single man that did not have either happiness or value to live sent to kill six million Jewish brothers. There are so many things to enjoy and the time we step on the land is so short, that to suffer is a waste of time. We have to enjoy the snow of the winter and the flowers of the spring, the chocolate of the British, the bread of France, the Mexican quesadillas, the Chilean wine, the seas and the rivers, the soccer of the Brazilians, The Last Supper, the Mona Lisa, El Quijote, The Staring Night, the poetry of Whitman, Mahler, Mozart, Chopin, Beethoven, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Velasquez, Picasso among so many others. And if you have cancer or something of the sort, two things can happen, and the two are good; if it wins, it frees you of the body that is so burdening: I am hungry, I am cold, I am sleepy, I want, I don’t want, I am right, I have doubts… If you win, you will learn to be humble, more grateful to live, therefore easier for you to be happy. Free of the tremendous weight of the fault, the responsibility, and the vanity, willing to live every single moment deeply as it should be. Even though there is evil, that confuses, destroys, and kills, good is the majority. It is just not noted because it is silent. An atomic bomb produces more noise than a hug, but by each bomb that destroys, there are millions of hugs that feed life.
Right now in my life, I feel that I’ve achieved self-actualization. I’d be ok if I died tomorrow or 100 years from now. Either suits me fine. I’ve been very fortunate, so I try to instill that mind set on to other people by reflecting this in my attitude everyday. It’s an awesome way to live and has gotten me very far in friendships and professionally.