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dadmonson

Quick Question: Is Life Supposed To Be A Constant Struggle?

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...if a man wants to live as his nature requires (be morally perfect) is his life supposed to be a constant struggle?  Why or why not?  That is all.

Edited by dadmonson

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"supposed to be" is not particularly valid or useful a term or concept when applied to life in the context of reality.

 

Life cannot be lived outside the context of actual reality, as such reality sets the terms... whatever is, is "supposed to be".  and that sets the price to be paid in return for life.  Whether or not that translates consequentially into a more or less work is a question which depends on reality, whether you interpret this as constant "struggle" is subjective.

Due to various factors regarding the physical fact of the need of energy to do work, life cannot be sustained without food, and food must be produced and consumed ... effort must be expended to support life.

Add to this shelter, and heat, and the law of thermodynamics, we see that shelter itself must be maintained (unless one lives in a cave), and energy sources must be tapped to extract their energy.  This also requires expenditure of effort. 

Cars break down; things rust, wear out, wear down, get used, etc.  This requires repair, maintenance, replacement, production...It goes on and on, insofar as life has complexity and variety, more and more effort is paid to buy it.

Even in the purely intellectual realm, there must be effort if one wants to solve new problems, tell new stories, create new jokes.

The richer the life the more one must do to bring it about.  This is a consequence of reality and life.

 

One could call that "struggle"... but "effort" or "work" is likely more accurate. 

It really depends on how you define "struggle", is it the noble awe inspiring action of all life since the dawn of time? or the angst ridden horror inspired action of a creature which seeks to escape both reality and life?

 

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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That struggle is not an endless one... at least it is one which can be reduced in magnitude over time.

 

I can tell you from first hand experience that emotions although in the moment are instantaneous, not easily to be controlled, and seem to erupt from a combination of your current perceptions and content of consciousness along with your subconsciously held premises, in the long run, emotions ARE in essence a product of your thinking about your external and internal experiences.

As others (and perhaps Rand) have observed on this subject it is true that as your thoughts/knowledge and held premises change over time, your emotional reactions will too.

Obviously it is difficult to act and think properly when you are emotional, and yes this is a day-to-day struggle, but if you remember to always try to think things through, check your premises and your process, think about things rationally, and especially remembering to take the opportunity to think and reflect when you are not being emotional, eventually your "emotional machinery" will be molded.  You will find that as your subconscious premises change, as they are slowly fixed in the face of continual correct rational thinking and reflection, your emotions will be consistent with your thoughts, and you will not have the problem of struggling against them.

This is a VERY long process, especially if you spent a great deal of time, decades even, molding your emotional machinery with irrational thoughts... it is tragic to be in such a position, and I believe SO many people are in such a position, as many here were and are, but it is FAR from hopeless.

Read Rand, read and listen to Piekoff, read and/or listen to Branden, Binswanger, and many others.  There are also many books and programs on self-dialogue and mindfulness whose techniques of reflection combined with a proper philosophy and self-esteem, will do great good. 

In the end, rationality will over time fix and heal your emotions, and do not worry you will not become a robot...you will find yourself moved more deeply by man, reality, and life, and in particular YOUR LIFE, than you ever thought possible.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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We are rational and emotional beings, and our emotions give us valuable feedback on the efficacy of our actions to create the kind of life we want to live.  Acknowledge what your emotions reveal about how you are doing, and use that information to modify what you could be doing better.  The pursuit of happiness is worth the struggle to get there.

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Can you give a specific example?

Yeah, what type of emotions are these? At least what's the most common one you have to struggle against: fear? anger? sadness? 

And a follow up question would be: are the causes varied or generally from a single source -- a particular situation, particular job, particular relationship, etc.

Edited by softwareNerd

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For example:  I know it is right to cut grass, do homework, clean my room, etc. and most of the time I do what is right but not without some urge to do what I think is "wrong" at that moment in time i.e. lay in bed, daydream, aimlessly search the Internet, play video games etc. 

 I used to be VERY lazy and would just do things that required very little effort, but ever since I have discovered Ayn Rand I have been striving to better myself. I noticed however that almost every time I went to do something that required more than a little effort I would experience a very negative emotion.  I don't know how to describe it... Maybe someone else knows what I am talking about and can label it.   This feeling makes doing most things that are productive harder than they should be. It's a constant every day struggle for me not to give into it.

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Dadmonson,

 It appears the negative emotions you're experiencing are relatively normal for a young man living in his parent's home. Think of the household duties as a form of payment, the sort of payment you will one day have to accept when the day comes that you will be more independent of parents, school, or other obligatory authorities. If you work toward an independent future, a rational future, a future of your own choosing, then no matter the difficulties with emotions, your sense of achievement and pride may overcome your negative emotions. And the non-productive activities (playing video games, etc.) may seem less relevant, maybe ever less enjoyable, if that's possible. One day, you may look back at it all and wonder why it seemed like such a struggle.

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... cut grass, do homework, clean my room, etc. ...

You list chores and homework. Ideally, chores should not consume the majority of your time. Homework is probably something you need to do in order to achieve some other end. I'd be curious about the positive values you're pursuing, rather than the humdrum stuff that has to be done alongside. Are you engaged in something that is going to get you positive values -- i.e. positive according to your own judgement (something that you consciously want to achieve because you judge it will make you happy in the long run)? I don't mean some all-encompassing passion (like the fictional Roark's with architecture). I mean something you have chosen out of the options you have and that you find interesting. 

Purpose -- some purpose -- is critical to human happiness. It could be limited to doing well at some simple job. It could be volunteering in a food-kitchen. it could even be a virtual purpose, like beating your personal high-score in a game. Psychologically, humans need to pursue something, to some extent, or they will be unhappy. If one is choosing a purpose, it makes sense to choose a good one: something that is not just a purpose "in the moment", but will help you achieve something that you will be happy about in the longer-term. 

I don't know how much information you wish to share, but my broad advice would be: the chores etc. are not as critical as the positive purposes you choose to pursue. 

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Right now, list five areas of your life that you want to improve. Write them down, then write down what concrete goals you want to accomplish in each of these areas in one year and five years. Having specific goals will make you more confident and focused.

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Sorry that we lost some posts in this thread. Split Primary had posted about not doing just any 5 things, but figuring out what you wish to do... figure out what motivates you and it will.

I posted that sometimes one has to stop trying to figure out what motivates you and start trying thing 1, thing 2, thing 3, and so on...looking for "your thing".

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What are you doing your homework for? Is it necessary, in order to live the sort of life that you want to live, or not?

 

What kind of life do you want to live?

 

According to Objectivism, what's "right" is what's right for you (and not necessarily "right" for anyone else in the world). In order to do that, you first have to know what's right for you. In order to know that, you first have to think about what's right for you: how do you want to spend all of the hours, days and years that you'll be alive for?

 

The urges you're fighting (like video games) can be valid answers to that question. You can make a career out of video games, if you're good enough to do it professionally. You don't even have to make a career out of it, if it doesn't suit your fancy: one of the greatest things about Capitalism is that anyone who doesn't want to work doesn't have to work; you are free to live on whatever terms you'd prefer.

 

The only standards to consider are your own.

 

Personally, I see the appeal in the Dionysian sort of lifestyle. I've spent several years of my life just hanging out, playing video games, partying; doing whatever I felt like doing, all day, every day. What I found was that I would get restless. After several years -although I didn't enjoy the partying any less- I found myself wanting to make things (write a book, build a rocket, etc); to create something, for the thrill of it; something I could look at and say: "I did that. It's mine".

But you may not feel that way - and that's OK!

 

So, no, I don't believe that Egoism necessarily demands a constant struggle and I don't see anything necessarily immoral in coasting through it, as long as it's what you really and honestly want most. If it's not what you really want then don't do it (and remind yourself of that, whenever you experience any counterproductive urges).

Life can be a constant struggle, though, for those of us who like it that way.

 

 

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
Better summary and a hyperlink to glorious-struggle-music

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