What is There to Live For?
BY RABBI SHMUEL GLUCK
For many people, this is an obvious unnecessary question. Life is great. Meet new people; Succeed in one’s endeavors; Taste great food; Enjoy the weather!
For others, this question rests heavily on their heads with no answer in sight. Why live? Life offers no hope for improvement. No one understands me and no one will. True friendship and love are elusive. Why go on? Tomorrow will be no better than today. I wish I could just end my misery. Should I?
I’m not naïve enough to think that a few sentences of logic will overcome years of anger, resentment, and frustration. I’m not naïve enough to believe that years of living an unhealthy life can be erased by a few clichés. What I’m hoping to accomplish is to plant some thoughts, that, hopefully, will make you pause and appreciate, not only agree but appreciate, what I’m saying. At a minimum, I’m hoping that you’ll keep this article with you and look at it every once in a while.
I think the secret to enjoying life is to approach it from the inside, not the outside.
I think the secret to enjoying life is to approach it from the inside, not the outside. Most of the people who don’t like living think of others. They think of why others hurt them, ignore them, or don’t appreciate them. They may even be right. Not only that, but they may be thinking the same thoughts that I, or others, would think if we had been raised by such parents, lived with the same siblings, or been forced to experience the same terrible experiences that you’ve had to experience.
The question should not be, “Don’t I have a right to expect more from everyone?”, because the answer to that is often yes, you do. The question to think about should be is “If I am able to wake up in the morning in a good mood, why shouldn’t I?”
Here’s where the problem lies. To a Frum (religious) person the most important thing in the world is to do what Hashem wants. For most people (even for some of the Frum ones) the most important thing in the world is to be happy. To people who have no desire to live, the most important thing in the world is two-fold: 1) To be validated or appreciated by those that don’t understand them; 2) To see that those that have committed, and sometimes continue to commit, an injustice to them, are punished. Since these two goals are unattainable these individuals see no choice but to want to end their lives. These individuals want, more than anything, something they can’t get or that they’re unwilling to “go after”. Their first option, the right way to live life, is to ignore all the bad people in their lives and to “move on”. However, this may be very difficult and, in many cases, impossible.
It is their second option, the one that most people refuse to attempt to do, which could become the key to their happiness. Why shouldn’t an individual do something that is within one’s reach and would almost certainly succeed? The second option is to confront the issues and not run away from them. Most victims are unable to see the solution, the cure. The nature of people is that if they’re able to face, even to confront, the individuals that they blame for their unhappiness, those that they hate so much, it would remove their inner anger. Once emptied from the anger, or negative thoughts, they can now begin living again.
There are additional advantages for you. Once you’ve emptied yourself of everything that’s destroying you, you’ll have room to appreciate not only what you can have, but also what you do have. You have a circle of devoted, caring friends (and, if I may add, rabbi’s too) who are with you. However, at this time you’re continuing to ignore what you do have, because of the “bad’ that’s inside of you. In addition, once you get rid of the “bad” inside, you’ll find that you have more resources than most people. Get rid of the bad and you’ll realize that you’re among the more fortunate people.
Giving a few hours of your time now is insignificant when compared to the rest of your life!
The process of emptying these destroying thoughts (anger, etc.) will, no doubt, be painful. It may also take hours, weeks, or months, but it can be done with the help of others. Giving a few hours of your time now is insignificant when compared to the rest of your life!
Many people believe that the goal of talking to those that have hurt them is to try and convince them to “give in”, admit their mistake, apologize and to turn over a new leaf. Since, the individuals who were hurt believe, that this is necessary, but that it’s never going to happen, they give up without trying. They are wrong. All that’s needed for the individuals who were hurt is to talk to those that have caused them the pain and to voice their true thoughts. (Sometimes it’s best to do this together with someone) How the others react is not nearly as important as the hurt person believes it to be.
The answer to the question of, why should I live, is simple. Appreciate the life that’s within your grasp. What you believe can never be achieved can be achieved within days, weeks, or months, and can become a reality. Although you may be thinking the most famous two words in your vocabulary: “I can’t”, please consider the following. You’re willing to die, kill yourself, run away, make very unhealthy decisions, and sit in a room alone for hours, days, and weeks, and you’re doing this without the slightest hope that it’ll bring you true happiness. All I’m asking you to do is, for a few minutes, confront the issues and people that are making you lose your hope for life. Although this may be more difficult than anything you have ever endured, this isn’t more difficult than what you endure every day.
I’m not expecting you to immediately embrace every point in this article. I hope that you keep this article with you, letting its message seep into you daily, until the day that you’re willing to come back to me holding it in your hand and say that you’re ready to face your “tormentors”.
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