Giving up is hard to do

I recently heard a friend say “I’ve been through a rough couple of weeks… sometimes I feel like just giving up.”  His comment really got my attention.  The urge to stop pushing forward in the face of adversity is human nature and I bet you’ve felt that way at times too.  So what really keeps you going when the going is rough? 

I remember a conversation with my mom when I was a teenager.  A young man we both knew had shockingly committed suicide… the most extreme form of “giving up.”  My mother happens to be a professional therapist who has counseled patients with suicidal thoughts. So I asked her “Why do people commit suicide?” 

In so many words she said, “There are many factors, but one common thread I’ve found is they have a lack of purpose, of meaning, in their lives.”

Clarity of purpose is not always so clear, at least not for me.  I’ve admired others who seem so clear in their life’s mission, whether it is building a company that employs hundreds of people; fundraising for a non-profit that relieves the pain of others; or dedicating themselves to raising their kids the best they can.  You go through struggles in all these examples, but what keeps you going is the great purpose that got you started in the first place.

Maybe you are clear on your purpose and I salute you if you are, but if you don’t have a purpose right now, pick one.  Don’t make a big long bucket list – just keep it simple and pick something you can really throw yourself into.  And if your purpose includes an element of service, I believe it will bring you the greatest rewards.

Many people evolve through their lives – from serving themselves as a teenager, to serving a spouse and family, to serving their community, to eventually giving back to the world in some way.  Your unique talents and contribution are needed by someone… possibly someone you have not even met yet. 

I’ll repeat that.  Your purpose in life may be related to people you don’t know, who need you and will appreciate what you have to offer.  That’s a good reason to keep pushing forward and NOT give up, isn’t it?

I believe that when you find your great purpose, giving up is hard to do.

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13 Comments on “Giving up is hard to do”

  1. “I dunno, Davey…” (can ya hear Goliath say that?) LOL

    I love this blog – good one as always, my friend. I always appreciate your take on this.

    I have a friend whose accountant just jumped from a building. Gads, I know, but sometimes, trying to make sense out of something is difficult without knowing the whole picture – everyone thought he had purpose and loved his life.

    Though, I agree – it’s about purpose, but here’s the catch… if people are so slammed in trying to keep up with daily life and they don’t take the time for introspection to evaluate their own evolvement and growth, chart changes and note progress and what ‘purpose’ fits their need today – can they ever really take stock in their own life evaluation? Ask your Mom about that one.

    Confrontation is difficult for most people.. i.e. Michael Jackson “Man in the Mirror” idea — it’s no different than why people don’t go to the doctor, as finding out something is wrong, is a scary concept.

    I live by the philosophy of clarity of purpose and try to constantly evaluate changing/growing/evolving and what works/doesn’t and how to keep plowing forward.

    For marketers like you and I – we are accustomed to changing because our environment changes constantly, so we adapt to the market which changes on a dime. I would think this transfers somehow to daily life, too, even on the worst days. Most people don’t know how to shift gears as quickly and make their environment make sense, but rather go into safe-haven mode and cocoon. Don’t you think? Sometimes that triggers depression and then without that much needed stimulation, people go crazy. And then we may have our answers to the unanswered questions about life.

    Here’s one thing I’ve realized with both life experience and time, and through dealing with many deaths and losses – at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is your happiness. We don’t get ‘do overs.’ We can try to do things for others (charity, philanthropy and humanitarism is always great), we can try to do things to seek approval and validation and reinforcement. But it’s like in the movie City Slickers…. “That ONE thing…” – that’s what matters, and makes life matter. Then we matter. Peace in our hearts, living each day as our best day and as our last day and giving all we’ve got – to everyone we meet. Namaste.

  2. Doug Peterson Says:

    And understand that you may be smack dab in the middle of your great purpose right now, without even realizing/recognizing it. If you’re a parent, your great purpose is raising a human being. You may not see it that way because you’re so immersed in it that it doesn’t seem like A Great Purpose, it’s just what you do from day to day, but the reality is that it is, in fact, a great purpose. What you may think of as just a job is actually a Great Purpose – moving the company forward, doing your part to keep it afloat so that continues to employ that single mom over in shipping who desperately needs her job. You thought you were going to work each day, when in fact you were going to your Great Purpose.

    Or you may be between Great Purposes, which is perfectly fine. Sometimes it’s okay to just drift, sit back and enjoy life without having to have a Great Purpose right at that very instant. You will probably find that a Great Purpose will end up finding you as soon as you relax and quit trying to find it.

  3. Karen Says:

    Love it David! Given the transition I am going through I have been pondering the question of purpose. Yes… service is what its all about my friend. I was given gifts to use and share and I’m still trying to figure out how and where to use them. I decided, given all the changes I’m going through, I would not force it. I am thinking positively, being in the moment and checking it all out … and just see what comes my way.
    I know you are well and keep writing! Karen

  4. Raj Says:

    Very well written.

  5. Roland Says:

    I have a primary purpose, and many, many secondary purposes that come into play in the moment. As a primary, a great philosopher taught me that it isn’t always a singular goal, but rather a focus on consciousness leveling-up. In this, my primary purpose is to endeavor to “see” from a more aware state of thinking and being. If I do this, and I am getting better at it, it them influences everything I do – hence, all the smaller secondary goals – as they become part of my experience.

    I believe that it is easy for someone to give up when they derive insufficient value from the experience of living. This often grows from the illusion that life owes us something, and that we continually are victims of circumstance and targets of bad jokes. There is a lesson in understanding the states of mind regarding “the glass that is half empty or half full…” Perspective is everything.

    Purpose starts with an initial “grasping of who we are.” Without identity, nothing else matters as much. Identity gives us a relationship with the Universe. With an identity, one may have the “half full” or half empty” relationship. Unless the perspective allows for growth of the “half full” to become more fulfilling, I can understand how a vision of personal identity can wither.

    Stacey is dead on, above… happiness is the measuring stick. It is critical that people understand that happiness is a choice and a perspective… not something to be “attained” through gathering money or good memories. Happiness is the catalyst, not the goal. Interestingly, once applied, it inevitably generates MORE happiness. Funny how that works!

    Once you have found the “ideal purpose,” such as being a good person, following the Christ Consciousness, being a philanthropist, or just being a good husband and/or father or friend, this sets the bar for all else that we do. For anything that conflicts with your goal must give way to better thinking and better actions.

    Free will – we all make the choice of where we set the bar. Unfortunately for some, because of their value assessment of life as they know it, the bar is simply set way too low. This could make it difficult to find even the reason to endure life itself. Been there… done that… but luckily, if one might believe in luck (which is funny because I do not), I decided to take another look from a little higher place, and saw that there was more to life than my previous vision allowed for me to see.

    When one finds their great purpose, giving up IS hard to do… nay, as committing as it is,it becomes impossible.


    • Amen to everything you said, Roland. Amen!!! Good text, by the way!

      And thank you for the reinforcement on what I said about happiness.

      Simply put, if we do not take a pro-active approach within our own lives to express an attitude of gratitude for each and every life blessing, we’re truly missing out on the big picture of life.

      Roland, you eloquently shared the glass half-empty or full perspective. And that’s really what it is, it’s about perspective.

      Can we imagine what it would be like to wake up and say “Thank you, Universe — my glass isn’t empty, it isn’t even half full – it RUNNETH OVER?!” Seriously. Let’s all think about that.

      How lucky are we all to wake up and realize we have a bed to sleep in, food and coffee to wake up to, a window to look out of and a whole day ahead of us to meet us head on to make the most of?

      On this very basic level – we have more, so much more, than others in other parts of our world, who aren’t even sure that they have tomorrow.

      So we should feel blessed we have each day. And if we’re lucky enough to have tomorrow – beautiful, even better. Clean slate opportunity to make tomorrow even more beautiful than today.

      Smiles, love, friendship, kindness, sunshine… heck, I’ll throw in rainbows and unicorns, haha – but trying to make a point here.

      It’s hard to give up when we choose to create our own happiness… whatever that means and in whatever form that means. If we don’t make ourselves happy…. who will? And if we’re all so fortunate to have others who try to bring happy moments into our lives, then I say yes, yes, yes… our glass runneth over.


  6. Rajesh Arora Says:

    Excellent thoughts David, thanks for sharing.

    We never drive our car without knowing our destination. We plan welll to save time and money especially now with high gas prices.

    Life moments are much more precious, then why
    drive our life witout a purpose and a plan. Having a purpose in life is extremely important and if you have a clear purpose in life, givng up is hard to do.

    There can be more than one purpose and they can evolve as time goes by.
    My main purpose in life at this moment is to raise my kids to
    the best of my ability.

    -Rajesh Arora

  7. Ana Contreras Says:

    Powerful stuff, Dave….and so applicable to me in my situation.

    As always….love your blogs! Keep ’em coming!!!!!

  8. Anita Says:

    David –

    First of all, excellent thoughts, and I’ve enjoyed reading all the brilliant comments as well.

    I do agree that purpose – or rather, lack thereof – can cause a person to give up on life. However, in my life experiences, it has seemed to me to be more about hope. For those who feel a sense of hopelessness, who believe there is nothing in life to live for and/or there is no hope of anything ever changing from their present reality, and who do not have a support system of any kind – these are the ones who are most likely to commit suicide. The souls who do have many attentive friends and family members will not.

    Hence, I guess I’d have to say it’s pehaps not any ONE particular thing that makes poeple give up, but but a combination of losing (if it was there in the first place) both hope and purpose, without the determination, the drive and the support to get there.

  9. Bill Says:

    Another great one David, keep it up. What you do is a form of sowing seeds. As people read what you say, they may or may not take immediate root, but they are left dormant to spring up later in the sub-conscience mind.
    My two cents is to advocate volunteering for those that are less fortunate then yourself. I often say many things “which drives my friends crazy”, but one of my analogies is that America is like an iceberg. An iceberg has only 10% of its mass above water, with 90% left unseen. Compared to the entire world, America is the top 10% of the iceberg. We must stop comparing our lives to what others in the top 10% have, and realize how truly lucky we are compared to the 90% who have nothing. A majority of the world’s population makes less than two dollars a day and don’t even have a bathroom. I tell people, sure I might be a waiter, but at least I have a bathroom….
    But I digress, I have found that by volunteering and surrounding myself with people who really are less fortunate than myself, makes me feel like a complete idiot for thinking I really have any problems….

  10. Gus Says:

    Ya know, even Navin R. Johnson had a “special purpose”. So there’s hope for everyone. Anyone remember that movie? Nice message Dave!

  11. Patricia Says:

    Everyone is coming up with great insight and response to this blog. Good One Dave!!

    I agree hope and purpose are in there together. Hope is the frosting and purpose is the cake.
    I also think families who genetically have high levels of serotonin in their bodies fare better as they more often have a sense of well being or are optimistic. Some families have low levels and many in the family may be on one of these:Prozac, zoloft, paxil, effexor, Celexa or Lexapro (seratonin enhancing medications).
    The other dimension I would like to add is the social/cultural context. I watched the history channel’s presentation of the “1349 Plague” 2 days ago, which involved the entire European continent and took 50% of the population. The survivors bounced back even stronger and it is believed by some historians that this event set the stage for the Renissance to happen.
    I had a strong response to the show and felt extremely fortunate with everything I have done last 2 days.!!:) So, I wonder has affluence taken away our ability to hunger for life and purpose?

    I usually know I am staying true to my purpose if the spirit and creative energy of what I am doing is alive! If the spirit and energy diminish substantially I know I am off track.

    Reading Victor Frankel’s book, “Meaning in Life” helped get me on track many years ago. He talks about the high correlation of goal seeking folks with experiencing purpose and meaning.
    I have a survey test which measures an individual’s purpose and meaning,and I would be happy to share it if anyone is interested. I will scan and forward it to Dave and he can distribute. I can interpret the results for those who take it.
    Purpose and meaning was the subject of my dissertation so this subject “rings my bells”:) Patricia

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