Why do you choose to be alive today?
You don’t have to be here, you know. It’s completely optional. In each moment that you are alive, you choose to continue being here. You could just as easily choose to end it all. In any moment.
Why don’t you? Why do you, instead, choose to live?
Is that a necessary question to answer? Or is it more worthwhile to ask, Why not live?
Defining Your Life’s Purpose
You don’t need to lay out a well-defined, perfectly concise life purpose in order to find value and enjoyment in living. You can still have a meaningful life.
You are always making meaning. In each moment, you are deciding on what the things around you mean. You are deciding upon the meaning of your desires, your life circumstances, and your actions.
Odds are that within that meaning lies the essence of your life purpose. You already live your life purpose. You already view your life in terms of that purpose. You just do so below the level of conscious awareness. Intuitively, you have a rough idea of what you’re doing here. You just haven’t stated that idea in clear terms yet is all.
Defining your life purpose takes some work. You have to sit down with it—potentially for many hours. Go be alone, lock the door, turn off your phone, disconnect from the Internet. No distractions. No interruptions. You are setting a context in which to live your life. Pictures of cats can wait.
The basic task here is to state, in words, the essence of your life. What are you doing here? What is the trail you’ve been following day after day? What is the thing- the higher guiding force- that calls for your attention on a regular basis?
This isn’t about doing anything in particular. This isn’t about observable actions. Really, this is about the underlying processes that continually unfold throughout your life.
This is something you’re already doing—or, at least, already giving some thought to. This is something you already care about. This is something that, not only would you continue doing for a while, but you will.
What is that inclination that you follow on a regular basis? What is that thread that you see running through the entirety of your life? What is it that you care about most? What do you already, and what would you continue to, devote your life to?
These questions in themselves aren’t necessarily difficult to answer. You already know the answers. The tricky part is stating those answers. You may have an intuitive grasp on the answers, but they are difficult to place into words. Similarly, you may know deep down what you really care about, but you’ve been trained to say something different than that. As a result, you answer the way you think you’re supposed to, rather than the way you would in full awareness.
That’s the piece that can take many hours. Stating it, and restating it, and then restating it again. Throwing off the social conditioning and incongruent ideas. Remembering, all the while, that your life isn’t “paused” just because you don’t have a solid answer yet, and that the answer will likely be modified at some point.
A Reason for Today
That last sentence bears importance that may be easy to overlook. Life is not lifeless without a consciously-defined purpose. You still go on day after day. You’re still here, living. Even if you think you don’t know why.
Throw away all that stuff about defining the purpose of your life for a moment. Attend to the decision you already make on a regular basis. Answer the question you must answer day after day.
Why do I choose to be alive today?
Maybe you’ve never actually asked yourself this. Or maybe you’ve asked, but never answered. That doesn’t matter. The reality is that you’ve already been living some answer for all these years. But right now, that doesn’t matter. Those days are behind you.
Simply answer the question for today. Don’t worry about any other day. Not yesterday, not tomorrow, not 10 years from now.
In fact, you can go a step further, and answer the question for just the next hour, or even this particular moment in time. The answer to the question can only be stated in the present anyway. If the answer you give this morning doesn’t feel quite right to you 12 hours from now, then answer the question again. Always be making a new decision—even if you are simply renewing the decision you made before.
Why Do I Choose to Be Alive Today?
To walk my talk, I’ll go first. Why do I, Kim Wrate, choose to be alive today?
For starters, I made a pretty good point at the beginning of this article. Why not be alive? Being alive is awesome. It’s fun, it’s interesting, it’s challenging, it’s stimulating. It feels amazing—even when it doesn’t! The simple process of watching this reality unfold day after day is endlessly interesting. To simply look at my life and ask, What shall happen next?, leaves me with insatiable wonder.
Even if I have strong convictions about the answer to that question, I look forward even more to experiencing what happens next than I do to knowing what happens. I don’t just watch reality unfold—I participate in that unfolding. My experience is my participation.
That is the key word—experience. There is nothing more incredible that I can imagine than experience itself. The experiences that life has to offer are rich, varied, and just plain fun. Not only that, but the possible range of experience is ever-expanding. I can have experiences now that were rare, impossible, or unthinkable for me just several years ago. And this progression keeps going. The pool of possibilities grows wider and wider for me. At the same time, so does my ability to choose from them. As my options for taking on life expand, my ability to choose sharpens. The longer I live, the more consciously I can create.
This ability to choose is one of the most fascinating aspects of life. With each passing day, I am more humbled by the extent that my life is determined by the choices I make. I feel as though I wield immense power—perhaps the greatest power in the universe that I can know of.
This power isn’t about overpowering other people or objects. I’m not interested in doing that. This power is about consciously directing how my life is to unfold. I don’t choose every tiny thing—not consciously, anyway. I set the stage for my life. I say where it is to take place. Then the universe fills in the details. It hires the actors and writes out their scripts. I attend to the setting and to my own script.
Altogether, this makes for the perfect combination of choice and surprise in my life. I have enough power over my life to create the life that I want. At the same time, there is enough wiggle room left over for life to drop me plenty of pleasant surprises, and on a regular basis.
What makes these surprises pleasant is my power. I feel sure enough of myself that I’m not afraid of what life may bring me. I know that no matter what happens, I will be OK. This self-assurance allows me to enjoy and even anticipate life’s surprises, rather than dread them. I could go so far as to say that there is no surprise, since I already know the ultimate outcome (I’m perfectly fine!). But at least in the moment, it sure feels like a surprise. And that’s always fun. :)
The most profound experience of all is that of being loved unconditionally by the universe. That may sound kind of hokey, but it is, indeed, what I experience. This sense of being loved comes from, as I said before, knowing that I’m always OK. Whenever I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, and I know for sure that it’s all going to go to hell this time, well… It never does. I can wait for years for everything to blow up in my face and ruin me entirely, and that never happens. It is hard not to feel loved by life when it has such a good track record of keeping me alive.
The sense of being loved also comes from seeing that life will follow through on the choices I make about it. If I decide that I am not ready to take a certain action, then I will experience not being ready. If I decide that a certain task is to be my priority, the circumstances of my life adjust so that I have time to carry out that priority. If I have conviction about meeting a certain desire, the circumstances of my life, again, adjust so that I may do so.
It appears I have the ability to “part the waters,” so to speak, yet I often forget that I do. It is humbling to witness my own power. What is even more humbling is watching how life moves in response to that power. Life has always placed all that I need right in front of me, without fail. Up to this point, life has always kept me alive and well—without fail. How can I observe that I am anything but loved unconditionally?
What else fascinates me about life is its intelligent order. Life is constantly reminding me of how intelligent it is. In hindsight, it appears that things always happen in just the right order. I say to life, “Damn, I couldn’t have written it better myself!” I don’t know how it does that, but it is so very compelling to see again and again.
Similarly, I can walk around all day thinking about how other people are dumb, unconscious robots (or at least of sub-par mental ability), and there is no hope for humanity, and I am bound to find evidence to the contrary. People have surprised me time and time again, with the demonstration of their awareness and the depth of their thoughts. Humans are quite intelligent, if only they are given room to express that intelligence.
As my life carries onward, I see that life is far more intelligent than I had previously thought. When I come face to face in the woods with a deer, or when I run by cows on a farm, and they all stop to look at me, I cannot help but wonder if what lies in me lies in them, as well-- awareness. Awareness is the spark at the center of human life. It is by awareness that we do all things and imagine all things. As I become more aware, it appears that others do as well. Perhaps life itself becomes more intelligent and aware altogether—not just in separate, individual pieces.
Imagination is an amazing part of life as well. A simple image or impulse in the mind can become a physical piece of reality, by sheer human will. Much of what you can dream up, you can create. You can make it real. What starts as a tiny dot in your imagination becomes a living, breathing, growing part of reality. The reality of your creation is far more beautiful than you could have comprehended when it was just a mental construction. There are few things more gratifying than bringing an idea into reality.
All in all, I choose to be alive today because I am constantly inspired by life. I want to see where it goes, and what it can do. I want to see where I can go and what I can do, too. I’d like to see what we all shall do. No matter what that may be, I love being here. The simple act of existing is endlessly pleasurable.
Ultimately, this all can be broken down to a simple answer. Seriously, Why not be alive?
From Today to Life Purpose
I didn’t pre-plan that answer. I did that totally on a whim. I didn’t include my life purpose in the answer, either.
Yet, I can see my purpose in there. At this point, I define my life purpose as To grow courageously, love fully, and live intelligently. If I were to try to extract my purpose from that answer, that might not quite be the statement I’d come up with. But I imagine that I would get pretty close.
I spoke about being loved unconditionally (my purpose is to do so in turn), the intelligence of life, and how life improves upon itself and progresses. Again, that wasn’t some scheme to fit in my life purpose. That was simply the genuine, present-moment answer that came out of me.
I answered to the threads of life that I give attention to—the aspects of life that inspire me. That’s what my answer to the question, Why do I choose to be alive today?, is all about.
From there, it’s not hard to imagine what my life purpose would be. It’s simply a statement about what I am already fascinated by. It is a declaration of what I already think about all of the time, each day.
Why Do You Choose to Be Alive Today?
I encourage you to not only answer this question yourself, but to do so publicly, as I have. If you have a blog, personal website, podcast, or YouTube channel, that’s a great place to do this. If you don’t, a Facebook post will work out fine as well. Your answer can be as long or as short as you’d like. It is your answer, after all, and no one else’s. Say what you will.
If you do this, I would love to know about it. You can send me a link to your answer (or simply the answer itself) in the Contact form, and I will be glad to read (or listen to) it.
Tell me—why do you choose to be alive today?
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