I think we’ve all been there at one point or another. We find ourselves asking:
“What am I even here for? What is my purpose?”
At the time, the question seems daunting. Almost impossible to answer. If you’re looking at the big picture, it can be a question that is quite difficult to try and take on. As humans we need to realize that we can’t have all the answers. It seems slightly ridiculous to sit and ponder about things that we can’t do anything about, doesn’t it?
Well… yes! But we do this all of the time! Why?
It’s the questions we can’t answer that teach us the most. They teach us how to think. If you give a man an answer, all he gains is a little fact. But give him question and he’ll find his own answers. – Patrick Rothfuss
Interesting nonetheless. If we were never given facts, we would likely come up with several different answers to these questions, right? Well… exactly.
Let’s move this into more about what I am here to do. Nobody is given any set reasons why they should (or should not) always continue to go on in life. Everybody is different. If I asked every single person to give me 30 reasons to keep on living, I would be willing to bet that there would be very few lists that would be exactly the same. These reasons could be as simple or complex, or personal or impersonal as they wanted. For the sake of familiarity, I kept mine simple. But first, a little background on the inspiration for this entry. (Trust me. There is an underlying meaning to this. Just keep reading.)
A few months ago, I lost a friend of mine to suicide. Not only was this a difficult time for me and his other friends and family, but it actually got me thinking about what my purpose in life is. Thinking about it in terms of “the big picture” was driving me mad, so I decided to downscale my thinking. That’s when I realized that why I go on depends strictly on what I believe there is to go on for… Seems pretty universal, right? Well, as I was saying, everyone has different ways of thinking about it, but I think there are some relatively simple reasons that most everyone can relate to on one level or another. The idea for posting these 30 simple reasons struck me as I was scrolling through my Facebook a few weeks ago. After seeing complaint after complaint about this and that and the other thing, I (and my new-found optimism in life) had seen enough. That’s when I posted this:
In life, shit goes wrong. Sometimes really wrong. Sometimes you’re ill, physically or mentally. You’re stressed. You’re beaten, torn, and bruised. You question. You scream. You cry. But you know what? You hold on for dear life on this ride. Because you know what? Some people can’t enjoy what YOU are taking for granted. The roof above your head that “costs you an arm and a leg.” The food in your stomach. The job you “just can’t stand.” The car you have outside? Your family and friends? Suck it up! YOU are much more blessed than you think. Others are mourning. Are homeless. Are dying. So like I said, shit goes wrong, but it gets better. Do ALL of the above apply to you? Do ANY for that matter? Just remember: shit goes RIGHT, too. So complain a little, but are you really in that bad of a place? It could always be worse. Think about it.
(As a disclaimer, I’m not attempting to be a hypocrite. I know we all, including myself, find things in life that can be stressful and difficult that we tend to complain about more than we should.)
It was then that I realized that not only did I want to start looking at life in a more positive way, but I was going to challenge my complaints and stresses to my best ability. It then became apparent to me that all of these complaints ended up being things that I was taking for granted in life. So, as my list began to grow, I decided to write it down.
Here are 30 of my simple reasons to keep going and the “underlying” things we might take for granted.
- Not having to set an alarm for the next morning. You would usually be getting up to fulfill an obligation. Most likely a blessing you take for granted in and of itself, like your job or getting an education. And according to Health.com, sleep can help improve your memory, sharpen your attention, and reduce stress. So take advantage of those snooze days!
- Curling up in a warm blanket. You have the ability to stay in out of the cold.
- The smell of rain. The ability to smell is probably something you take for granted each and every day. Don’t forget that not everyone has that privilege!
- A beautiful sunset. It’s much easier to take in the beauty of a sunset when you aren’t worrying about where you are going to sleep or find food for the upcoming day. Don’t forget that the gift of seeing in itself is something not everyone has the ability to enjoy.
- Laughing. Along with the overall fun you are likely having, according to E.C. LaMeaux of Gaiam Life, laughter has numerous benefits, such as releasing endorphins that can help ease pain and can cause an overall more positive outlook on life. So laugh away!
- A hug from a friend when you need it most. Other than the positive feelings and better health hugs bring, they also give a sense of security. Andrea F. Polard talks about the benefits of hugging in an article in Psychology Today. Plus, if you have someone to hug, it’s most likely someone who cares about you!
- Looking at the stars. I don’t know about you, but if I really need to relax, I head outside and look at the stars. I think it’s a hidden blessing to know that you are a part of a such an amazing and complex entity.
- Nighttime in the country. If you have never experienced the peace and quiet of a night in the country, I would highly recommend it! Listening to the sound of nothing but yourself and nature is one of the most relaxing things you can do (this is likely why I also enjoy stargazing!). You can use the quiet time to meditate, think, or just clear your head. Whatever you need the quiet for, the countryside is your best bet.
- Looking at old pictures. It becomes unfortunate when people are regretful for not taking enough photographs in their past. It’s a great way to keep the good memories and loved ones you may have lost along the way alive.
- Reading a good book. I’m going to take the obvious route here and say that you have the ability to read. Not everyone in this world has the opportunity to learn something that we tend to use each and every day. Plus, if you read the right book, it’s a good escape from reality for a little while. Some of us need that!
- Catching up with old friends. I love to catch up with people that I haven’t seen in a while just to remember how much things have changed. It’s also great for reliving old memories, rekindling old friendships, and raising the possibility of making new friends.
- Driving with the windows down. I can’t express how much I enjoy rolling my windows down, putting on my sunglasses, and soaking up some sunshine in my car. I would guess that I am likely not the only one who enjoys this. The fact that there is a vehicle to be driven (and probably a song to be belted out) is probably taken for granted once or twice.
- Sitting with your toes in a body of water. There are people out there who can’t feel the peacefulness of the water on their toes. Next time you do this, be thankful.
- Watching little ones grow. I love kids. Having the opportunity to watch them grow from infants into young children and adults is a transition that not everyone is able to see and experience with them. Not only can you head advice, but you can share in their successes along with them. Plus, who doesn’t like a little nostalgia every once in a while?
- Giving advice. There’s probably a good chance that you’ve been through a great deal of different things within your lifetime thus far. Whether it be good, bad, or ugly, your experiences are bound to help someone else out during their time of need.
- Walks to clear your head. Sometimes clearing your head can be something that becomes a greater battle than you would like it to. When it’s nice enough out for me to enjoy myself (darn Minnesota), I lace up my sneaks and take a walk. Not only is this a good time for me to think or relax (depending on what needs to be done, I suppose), but the benefits of walking are a plus, too. Walking is not only a good way to stay in shape (I’ve been told it’s better than running!), but according to the Mayo Clinic, it can also increase your mood among other great things.
- Holding a baby. Even if it isn’t your own, you are holding a brand new life in your arms. It’s amazing to think that you have come so far in your life, and that this little person holds so much potential to share with the world. Be thankful for the parents of this little one, too, as not everyone has the opportunity to have a little blessing of their very own.
- Payday. Let’s face it: payday is probably one of your favorite days ever. Not only are you being rewarded for performing your job (and likely doing it well), but you are also being given the chance to improve your way of living. Whether you like your job or not, remember that having a place to work is to your advantage as well. According to Trade Economics, the most recent unemployment rate in the United States (February 2015) was up to 5.7%, meaning approximately 9 million people are without a job. Do you still hate yours?
- Taking crazy pictures. I love pictures that show personality. So if you were to see a picture of me smiling as “normal” pictures look, my personality most definitely does not shine through. And it’s not that you always have to be in crazy situations to take crazy pictures, but sometimes you are. Take too many pictures. It kind of goes back to #9; the more you take, the less chance it gives you to regret not taking enough.
- Living in the moment. I have a hard time with this, but it’s a great thing to do. If you’re out with your friends having a good time, don’t worry about the dishes you left in the sink or the laundry that is sitting on your bedroom floor. It obviously isn’t going to get done right at this moment, so enjoy yourself. Some things in life can wait.
- Taking a deep breath of fresh air. Breathing. You’re still breathing. There’s nothing that is a bigger blessing than still being able to breathe and live a healthy and happy life. That opportunity is taken away from many people too soon.
- Eating your favorite food. Whether you are at your dining room table, out at a restaurant, or even in your vehicle, you have food in your stomach. You likely didn’t have to worry about where it was going to come from, how you were going to pay for it, or even stop to think about where your next meal is going to be. You know as well as I do that way too many people don’t have the luxury of experiencing that.
- The roof over your head. Sure, you might be struggling to pay for it. It might not be yours. It might not be all that you wanted, but you are in from the streets. You are protected from the elements, even if you’re not as warm or comfortable as you would like. Your situation is likely much better than somebody else’s.
- Salt air on the coast. Living in the Midwest, getting to the coast is a rarity. So I’m going to boil this one down to traveling. No matter where you go, whether it be across the globe or across the county, you have gotten further than many people ever will. Take advantage of your ability to get up and go.
- You matter.
- You can make a difference.
- Your family.
- Your friends.
- You have people to love…
- And you are loved.
The moral of the story is: even if you can’t agree with the first 24 reasons to keep on going, you can agree with the last 6. Whether you believe or deny, see or fail to discern, the last six are true no matter who you are. If you take nothing else away from this post, please remember that…
You matter. You can make a difference.
You have friends. You have family.
You have people to love and you are loved.