“I have nothing to live for.”
At first I argued back, “Yes, you do! You have good things in your life. Important people. And things to look forward to.”
I have had this conversation with many people. Sometimes it is a throwaway comment, daring me to challenge it, or perhaps to tell them how much I care about them. Sometimes it is said with real tiredness, sadness and despair.
The most important thing I can do, is listen and let them try to figure this out. It is never for me to tell someone what they have to live for. I have to figure it out for myself every day as well.
This is a question that strikes most people at various times in their lives. When we feel lonely. When we have no money. When we are sick and down-hearted. When we lose a relationship or when someone dies. When the children grow up or when we grow up. Over and over again, we live through difficult times and we have to work out what we have to live for at this point in our lives.
Robin Williams set amazing goals for himself as a comedian. Then as an actor. For television and then for movies. He made people laugh and think. He knew how to make people happy. We thought he was happy too but then he hung himself. This is important, that we know how to make ourselves happy and figure out what we want to live for. It’s a pity we aren’t all taught this in school.
Sometimes we see people who may have had a serious illness from birth or perhaps they had an accident or later suffered some tragic loss. The ones that stand out are those who take the challenge of life with a smile, a purpose and goal. Sometimes their mission is to help others transcend their own difficulties, to inspire and motivate. They are grateful for what they still have. They still see beauty and love around them. Just being in the presence of these people, or watching them on YouTube can touch us deeply.
One of the differences with these people and us, is that they have learned to find what to live for, for this day. I don’t imagine that every day is a good day for them, but their overall trajectory is positive. They have figured something out which helps them to live with happiness today, and this moment. They have been confronted with the choice, sink or swim. They have chosen to float to the top and move and keep moving.
We can work hard to make more money, thinking that when we live with ease it will make us happy. More money makes life easier and allows greater choices. However, living with ease can also be empty and shallow. Tony Robbins tells how he is often called by the very rich and famous who are also very unhappy. They attained the goal/s they had thought would also move the happiness radar off the charts but found it barely moved at all. Everyone thinks they have it all, money, fame, status, accomplishment but behind closed doors it is very different.
I believe happiness comes from feeding the hunger. No hunger – no happiness. The hunger for me are things like these.
The hunger of wonderful relationships that have fun, laughter and shared stories that resonate deep inside, and I can’t get enough of – leaving me wanting (and hungry for) more.
The hunger of working toward a cause I believe in or can commit to, at least for this week, and where I do my best work, give of myself, go the second mile and as I finish for the day I feel immense satisfaction that things are better than they were 8 hours earlier.
The hunger of creating beauty in my environment – where I desire to have things clean, orderly, welcoming and peaceful – that is gift to all who enter or experience what I’ve done.
Your hunger may be the desire to leave a legacy for your family, friends, animals or the environment. You may want to make art, entertain with beautiful food, write inspiring words, develop a scientific insight or heal.
When we have displaced our hunger with ease, boredom and indolence, it will affect our happiness. The soft, easy life doesn’t satisfy as we think it should.
Going without, putting up with minor discomfort and working to be more unselfish for a certain hunger – a desired outcome – increases happiness.
Finding that thing you hunger for is worth the effort. It’s something to live for. You will be happy.