Yesterday I was listening to a song, and one of the lyrics stood out to me: “Why isn’t anyone willing to die for anything anymore?” (paraphrased).
At first glance, being willing to die for something is the ultimate commitment. You are willing to lay down your LIFE for this thing, which means you are willing to give up your existence in order to show your dedication to this cause you feel so strongly about.
But when I was pondering this lyric and internally agreeing that the willingness to die for something really IS lacking in today’s world, I came to the realization that dying for something is hard, but living for it is harder.
When you die for something, it is over in an instant. You declare your unending dedication by a short, albeit dramatic demonstration, and then it is over. People remember your act for a while, but it usually fades shortly thereafter.
If you LIVE for something, however, that takes substantially more commitment. It means that all of your time is dedicated towards that goal. All of your choices are geared towards furthering your cause. There are constant sacrifices that need to be made, and you are consistently having to rededicate your mind to the prize and remind yourself of why you are so devoted in the first place.
This is the reason why people who LIVE for something are remembered. People like Mother Theresa, Ghandi, Susan B. Anthony, and many more are individuals who are commemorated for their fierce commitment to causes that were near and dear to their heart.
Each of these people were living for things greater than themselves. Which, in my belief, is the key to true success. When you focus on causes that impact people outside of just you, you will get increasingly more momentum as others appreciate, acknowledge, and even join your purpose rather than simply putting your head down and bulldozing through your own personal agenda.
So, what does it mean to actually live for something versus simply existing?
It means that you are actively involved in the direction your life is going. So many people allow their lives to be dictated by life events or people close to them. They lose out on opportunities because they don’t want to leave their current job or the people around them, or they settle down with someone and give up their life long dream of traveling to Europe because that person doesn’t like to travel.
Using a personal example, I could choose to take my layoff as a sign to leave California, or bend to the pressure to move back to Minnesota, or simply apply anywhere there is a job and take what I can get. However, I know that I want to stay near the coast, so I am only applying to jobs that fit that location criteria. I refuse to let being laid off dictate where I live, and I am completely confident in my abilities to make it happen.
It means you have put thought into what is important to you, and you have decided what you can compromise on and what you cannot. If you don’t forcefully put aside time for yourself to figure out what you want, there is no way that you can keep a steady course. Living FOR something means that you have given substantial thought to this goal or cause, and have laid out the steps you need to take to get there.
I have seen this firsthand in the life of someone close to me. He has decided what he wants to live for, and he refuses to let anything get in his way. The reason he can be so absolute, however, is because he has devoted a good portion of his time to figuring out what is important to him and why.
It means you have character. It is hard to stick to something with so many obstacles constantly being placed in your path. People who have character stick to their guns no matter what because they have gone through the mental work necessary to solidify how important their goals or their cause is to them.
The best example I can think of for character is my father. He has beliefs that he considers absolutes, and there is absolutely nothing that will sway him to compromise those beliefs. Even if it would be immensely easier to give into to those around him, he still unwavering acts upon his own convictions.
Overall, living FOR something versus simply existing is the optimal way to live your life. Think of your life as a giant puzzle: it is infinitely easier to put together the picture if you have the box to go off of. It’s just that in life, you get to create the image yourself. If you don’t take the time to create that image and set it up so that it is constantly in your field of vision, who knows what Kindergarden-like image you will end up with at the end of your life.
Masterpieces take time, planning, and dedication. Don’t waste your life floating from one experience to the next; decide what you want to accomplish with this one life we are given, and then take the steps to make it happen. Live FOR something, and your life will be one worth living.