Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Making Life Worth Living Again

I'm not sure how many of you read the post that came before this one, but here's the link to it. I suggest that you read that one before you read this one. It will make more sense because this one is basically a rebuttal.


Ok, if you read that one and then chose to continue to read this one, I congratulate you.

So the overall tone of the previous article was that life has no meaning anymore. Judging by the comments, many people thought I was suggesting suicide. That could not be further from the truth. My argument was that life, especially in modern times, has no real meaning or worth to it. I stand by this opinion.

Now, this leads to a very bleak and sad existence. With no meaning or purpose, there really is no reason to continue living. But billions of people chose to continue living every day. Why is that? Why are people still happy? Why is it, that despite all the bad things in the world, we live, grow, and prosper?

The reason is that we set goals for ourselves and take pleasure in the small things.

That's it. There's nothing special to it. Many of us will never achieve fame, fortune, or acceptance by the masses (which is mostly impossible anyway. Name one person who is universally loved by all). But these two seemingly insignificant things have a huge impact on our lives.

Let's start with the first one. We set goals for ourselves. This is very true. "I will lose 5 pounds by December." "I want to make a decent dinner." "I've never been to that blog before. I wonder what it's about..." Minor goals get us through the day. "Just two more hours of work and I can prop my feet up at home." "Two more pages of this book and then I can buy the next one." "I hate my boss. Thank goodness I have only one and a half more weeks of his crap..." Minor goals can also improve us, even if it's just in a small way. "Even if I mess up this cake, I at least learned something." "Maybe if I learn how to carve this wood good enough, I can make a little money on Ebay." "Using a blog to expose my ideas to the masses surely will start a conversation that will lead to all of our knowledge being expanded." (Sorry. I hate the fourth wall. Three are enough for me.)

"So what?" you may be thinking. "Minor goals are just that. Minor. Insignificant. Useless. How are they making life worth living?" Well, for one, they keep us moving forward. That in and of itself is major if you ask me. If your life turns stagnate, that means that you are a failure as a human. A failure in that you do not wish to improve yourself, do not want to further your knowledge and experience, and do not want to live any longer. Humans have a need to move forward and improve themselves. Look around you at all the cities, inventions, and improvements, even in "under developed" regions of the world. No matter how advanced or unadvanced the civilization is, they all want to be better.

Now, the moving forward may be insignificant to an outsider, and it may even be insignificant to the individual. But it is still a goal, and it still helps out. It may not help "The Greater Good," and it may not help the individual financially, but it does help the individual emotionally, and that matters a lot.

The second point is that you should take pleasure in the small things. Now, I personally have believed this for a long while and follow my own advice (making me happy 95% of the time I'd like to think), but this is echoed in a great talk by Barry Schwatz's TED talk (linked below).


Now, this may also seem insignificant, and is actually hard for most people. It the crap storm of life, it's hard to stop and enjoy the sight of a snail crawling over a pebble. But, by enjoying the small things, the big things become outweighed. Think about it: A small glow of happiness may be overshadowed by a huge cloud of gloom, but many small things can outshine all that and more.

Yes, this sounds lame. Like it's being said by a pansy. BUT it holds true. The little joys in life outnumber the bad. Catching an elevator right before the door closes, catching a fork before it hits the ground, the smile and thank you of a stranger when you hold a door open for them...

And that also is the key to making life worth living again. Helping others not only helps them, but makes you happy. The happiness you obtain increases your morale. Increased morale makes you more productive. The more productive you are, the more worth you feel about yourself, and that is all that really matters in this case.

Life only has meaning if you add your own meaning to it. Striving to get better, setting goals for yourself, seeing the small things for the little wonders that they are... All these make life the meaningful thing that it is. Enjoy it. And add the meaning back into your life.


Kurtty said...

"Now, this leads to a very bleak and sad existence. With no meaning or purpose, there really is no reason to continue living. But billions of people chose to continue living every day. Why is that? Why are people still happy? Why is it, that despite all the bad things in the world, we live, grow, and prosper?" 1.Imo people continue living because they believe that life has either 1 of two things 1) its either going to get better and they will be happy, or 2) if they continue going then they [proved] to themselves that they can make it when things seem bad. 2. I honestly can't answer why people are still happy, seeing I still want to find it. 3.As said in number 1 people believe life has to get better, some people think that there is always someone worse off than you. We have so much stuff and we are normally only thankful for it on Turkey Day then we just forget about it. I think we live/grow/prosper is because we want to prove to someone that we can survive even when things seem bad

Jacob again said...

You have failed to define happiness. How can you have a reasonable discussion on something as squirly as happiness without defining it first? What is happiness is a blog entry that really should come way before this. It's an honest conversation you need to have with your self. On a seperate note, you say happiness can be derived from observing the little things in life. In reality its the culture you grow up with that determines what little things give you pleasure. And our culture is slowly getting rid of those. Can your happiness still exist when people can no longer see beauty in a grain of sand?

10swords said...

To Jacob: Happiness is happiness. I'm talking about the simplest emotion. It's just what makes you happy. That's all.

Anonymous said...

Fuck, all you do is bitch an moan and I really hope you kill yourself and stop writing blogs, you wannabe hipster fatass faggot. I wasted 5 mins of my life by reading your shit.

NonExist said...

Interesting rebuttal.
As you said it is all about the person doing what it takes to want to continue living.

Thing is most people do that.
My question is will people stop trying to convince those who want to die to live.

Because the suicidal people are not asking anyone to die.

Anonymous said...

I was searching for "motivation" through Google and I found your previous post (the one on why life is meaningless) and then went on to read this one. This post is by far the most inspirational, albeit annoyingly practical/factual piece of writing i've read in a while. I find it extremely annoying when ppl talk abt "passion", "higher meaning", "true purpose", etc. - which seems to be the trend these days - like it is a fixed and pre-determined thing. on a darker note, we might as well live for the small pleasures in life because, well, what other choice do we have, right?
btw, i'm sorry that some utter a**holes wrote comments on your previous post telling you to kill yourself even though you were simply giving your opinion on life and that too in a polite manner. nobody forced them to read it