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7 powerful reasons to live when it’s impossible to go on

Note: If you are seriously questioning your reasons for living, you may be depressed. We have a free masterclass sharing a very different approach to personal development than what you’ll find anywhere else. This may be what you need to create a major shift in your life – click here to get started.

One way or another, many of us dedicate our lives to something other than our own self-interest.

It might be a spouse, a child, a career or anything else; whatever it might be, it’s the thing that makes you get up in the morning, fight off the sleep and start a new day.

It’s your reason to live, the fire in your soul, and without it, you have no idea what to do with yourself.

And one day, it might actually happen. You lose the one thing you devoted your life to, that one thing that keeps you going, and immediately, everything starts to fall apart.

The excitement for the next day, the eagerness to make that next step: gone.

The pain can tear you apart. It can turn your life around and make you feel meaningless. It feels like it’s impossible to continue with life. Many people even contemplate suicide when they lose their reason to live.

You now have a choice. You can give up. Or you can redefine your reasons for living.

Here are seven reasons to keep on living when you feel like you simply can’t go on.

Note: In this article, I’m sharing a very different approach to finding your reasons for living. If you want to go deeper into this approach, the best place to start is our free masterclass on turning frustrations into personal power.

1. Life is always moving forward and changing

reason to live
Image credit: Shutterstock – By Denis Belitsky

When you experience such immense suffering and feel like you can’t go on, it feels like the whole world is collapsing in on you.

Your friends will probably begin by showing some sympathy, but after some time they’ll begin to push you, saying things like:

“You need to get back on your feet” and “When are you going to move on?”

It’s easy to react with frustration to this suggestion. How could they possibly understand the pain and loss you’re experiencing? They obviously just don’t get it.

But the truth is this:

They’re right. Your situation may feel dire. But it’s going to change. The time will come when you have to move on.

It’s difficult to take advice from people when you’re feeling so frustrated. According to research in the Journal of Applied Psychology, our emotional state influences how receptive we are to the advice we receive.

Your mental and emotional strain makes it very difficult to see your current situation clearly.

Whether you’ve lost someone close to you, a relationship, a career or something else that was incredibly important to you, you’ve based your reason to live on this thing.

You’ve probably lived with purpose and passion, and this thing has been taken away from you.

Your reason to live has been taken away with it.

You now feel lost, trapped and confused, because the thing you’ve put so much into is gone.

It’s as if both of your legs have stopped working and there’s nothing to grab onto as you fall. But here’s what you have to understand:

2. Your reason to live depends entirely on you

purpose in life

It might not seem like it right now, but the purpose of your life didn’t depend on that person, career, or thing.

Just because it was the meaning of your life for so long doesn’t mean that it has to remain that way for the rest of your life.

Just as you assigned the meaning of your life to that person or thing, you can also reassign it to something else.

This is the power you have. This is how dynamic you truly are.

The meaning of your life and the reason why you want to keep going isn’t just an idea. It’s like another living entity that exists within you.

It’s a part of who you are, your body and soul, and it coordinates with the things you think and feel. It’s a deep part of you that you are not even aware of most of the time.

3. You don’t have to “find” your purpose in life

reason to live quote

Too often I have seen people become lost in their search for their one true purpose. They try dozens of careers, hundreds of potential partners, only to end up disappointed and frustrated every time because it didn’t “feel” like it was what they were born to do or be with. It especially happens when someone feels like they aren’t good at anything.

Eventually, they give up and surrender—they give up on the idea that they were meant to do anything or be with anyone special, and they just end up feeling worse.

In fact, this was my reaction. For a while, I completely gave up on my search for a purpose.

Then I had a truly profound conversation with the shaman Rudá Iandê. He showed me a different way of discovering my purpose.

He explained I needed to surrender to my purpose. It’s not something I could find by searching within. Rather, my purpose shows up through my actions when I’m trying to help others.

Here’s how Rudá explains it:

“Purpose is something different. You don’t need to change the world. You just need to shift your perspective, from ‘what you can take from life today’ to ‘how you can contribute to life today.’

“Many people don’t understand this and get really sick, trying so hard to do more. It then doesn’t matter how much you get from life, for it will not fulfill you.

“Fulfillment comes from inside out. It comes from acting, putting out your best, transcending your basic selfishness and contributing to the chain of life. It doesn’t need to be giant. It doesn’t need to change the world. It only needs your heart to be warm and present.

“When you start living your purpose, you reach your place in existence. You start understanding that you belong to life and you’re an active part of it. Then you find fulfillment, and being grateful becomes something as natural as your breath.”

(Rudá Iandê is teaching a free masterclass on how to claim ownership of your personal power by embracing your inner beast. He’s a brilliant and authentic spiritual teacher. Check it out here.)

4. You can find your purpose by starting with kindness

When you’re looking for a reason to live, it’s easy to become very introspective. You start to analyze everything that’s happening. You become your own worst critic. You want things to be different. You want your life to be better.

There’s a simple way to cut this chain of thinking and get yourself back on track.

Rather than trying to define your purpose or find a reason to live, start to find yourself through your actions.

Begin with kindness. Kindness to yourself and to those around you. Small and simple acts that remind you that you respect and love not only yourself but also others.

By starting with kindness, you become someone who actively contributes to life around you. You then start to embody your purpose through actions. Over time, you’ll be able to articulate your reasons for living by reflecting on the actions you’ve been consistently undertaking.

If you are interested in going through an exercise to reflect on your deeper and underlying purpose in life, check out my article on how to find your life purpose. I also recommend checking out Out of the Box, our online workshop that will help you to create a new blueprint for your life based on a clearly defined purpose.

5. The most challenging moments are the ones that define us

I wouldn’t wish tragedy upon anyone. But the reality is this:

The most tragic moments in our life are the ones that define us the most.

Our most tragic moments bring our greatest opportunities, if we have the courage to seize them.

I’ve learned this through personal experience. But there’s someone who explains it much better than I ever could.

Neale Daniher is 58 years old and a former professional sportsman, very well-known in my home country of Australia.

In 2013, Daniher was diagnosed with motor neuron disease and is now a prominent campaigner for medical research.

Daniher recently addressed the Melbourne Football Club, sharing an important message about personal tragedy.

He told the players that “life is good, but it doesn’t promise to be fair. There will be good times. But there will be hard times.”

When life is tough, there is one thing you can do to seize back control of your life.

“You can conduct yourself in the right manner when things get tough.”

Daniher faced this challenge. There’s no current cure for motor neuron disease. It’s slowly taking away his movement and quality of life.

But he chose to take responsibility for his circumstances. In his greatest challenge, he found a reason to keep on living. In his case, he dedicated his life to fighting against motor neuron disease.

As he says:

“When life gets difficult, you think it’s a train wreck, there’s no opportunity. There’s always opportunity. If you’re in the blame game, if you’re in ‘woe is for me, poor bugger me,’ you’ll never find it. My opportunity was to fight MND. It’s allowed me to prevail. It’s allowed me to find purpose. To transcend what’s happening to me.”

He shared some further advice:

“Have the courage to accept responsibility. Don’t shy away from it. Don’t balk. Don’t procrastinate. Don’t handball it to someone else. And while doing that, what will emerge inside of you, is the better side of your character that will allow you to prevail, allow you to move through it. It may even allow you to transcend.”

Check out the video below of Daniher addressing the Melbourne Football Club.

6. You owe it to yourself—and your family—to find a new reason for living

You feel like you can’t find any reasons to keep on living. You’ve lost that thing that gave you purpose and drive. You’ve lost your passion for life.

But you’re starting to feel a flicker of light within. You can see that you’ve been giving up your power by defining your reasons for living based on other people, other relationships … other things outside yourself.

You’re now starting to see that your reasons for living can come from small acts of kindness. You can discover a purpose that has always existed inside you.

You can also see that the obstacles you face can be your greatest opportunity, if you accept responsibility and don’t shy away from it.

If this even resonates just a little, congratulations. You’re going through a very important shift in perspective.

This slight shift in awareness holds great potential for planting a seed within that will slowly grow and start to move you forward in life.

It’s now your responsibility to nurture this seed, to continually remind yourself of the gift of life that you and many other people around you have.

The truth is this:

You owe it to yourself to continue nurturing this seed within. You just need to maintain a perspective of humility and kindness. You don’t need to do big things in life. You don’t need to find the one true love that gives life meaning.

But you don’t just owe it to yourself. You also owe it to your family.

Even if you have a troubled relationship with your family, they will be impacted by your attitude towards life. They’ll be especially impacted if you choose to end it.

As Jordan Peterson says:

“People with depression often struggle to find meaning in their lives. They don’t think anyone needs them or cares about them. This almost always isn’t true. Don’t underestimate your value in the world.”

(Interested in learning more about the ideas of Jordan Peterson? We published a 58 page eBook breaking down his key ideas in an easy-to-understand way: The Jordan Peterson Phenomenon eBook.)

7. Don’t underestimate your value in the world

This strikes to the core of why you need to take the opportunity to find new reasons to live when you feel like you can’t go on.

Peterson expands on the intrinsic value you have in the world. In making these remarks, he was responding to a question from an audience member about whether they should commit suicide or continue living:

“Don’t be so sure your life is yours to take. You don’t own yourself the way you own an object. If you’re religious, maybe your life belongs to a higher power. Or if you’re not religious, maybe it belongs to your loved ones or some greater cause. You have a moral obligation to yourself as a locus of divine value.”

See his remarks in full below.

You have incredible value just for being you. You don’t need to achieve anything to have value. You don’t need to be in a relationship to have value. You don’t need to be successful, make more money or be what you may judge as a good parent.

You just have to keep on living. You only need to start acting with kindness. It’s enough to be a participant in life and contribute to others around you.

Over time, this new attitude will create a groundswell of momentum in your life. You’ll start to naturally understand your reasons for living. You’ll be able to articulate them to yourself and others around you.

For now, you just need to make a commitment to yourself that your life has value. You just need to make the decision that your greatest challenges can be your greatest opportunity. You just need to start contributing to the lives of others by acting with a little kindness.

In this way, your life will slowly change, for the better. In time, you’ll look back at this moment as one of the most transformative and powerful moments of your life.

How this one revelation changed my life

I used to believe I needed to be successful before I deserved to find someone who could love me.

I used to believe there was a “perfect person” out there and I just had to find them.

I used to believe I would finally be happy once I found “the one”.

What I now know is that these limiting beliefs were stopping me from building deep and intimate relationships with the people I was meeting. I was chasing an illusion that was only leading me to loneliness.

If you want to change anything in your life, one of the most effective ways is to change your beliefs.

Unfortunately, it’s not an easy thing to do.

I’m lucky to have worked directly with the shaman Rudá Iandê in changing my beliefs about love. Doing so has changed my life forever.

Now, Rudá’s teachings can change your life, too.

As the founder of Ideapod, I’m in a unique position to be able to bring Rudá’s teachings to our global community.

We do this through our free masterclasses.

One of the most powerful masterclasses we have is on love and intimacy. In this class, Rudá breaks down his key lessons on cultivating healthy and nurturing relationships in your life.

Check out this free masterclass here. It’s already been attended by thousands of people, many of whom have contacted me directly to let me know the masterclass has changed their lives.

The masterclass is 100% free and there are no strings attached.

Check out the masterclass here.

Notable replies

  1. This reminds me of a darker moment in my life, of which there are far to many to recall. In fact, I tell people IF there is a hell, it would be me duct taped to a chair and having to watch every horrible, selfish, mean, ugly thing I did in my life on a tape loop.
    But this moment was more recent. I had just left my suffering boy’s hospital room and I was leaning against the wall of an elevator when another elderly couple walked in. Seeing me crying, the nice lady asked me why. I explained Jeffrey’s sarcoma. She uttered a soft cry and said…From Our Lips To God’s Ear.
    I looked at her and said…don’t you dare! Never let HIM know we are here or what we are doing! This ENTIRE building, everyone in it, is trying to defeat HIS plan!
    The poor lady and her husband were shocked, hurt and it was wrong of me. People need to use whatever they have, even if it means lying to themselves with a santa clause hero and story of a front row seat in utopia.

    But I guess what I want to say is…you have no option but to carry on. Every cell in your body is fighting to follow the survival code. If the suffering is so great, then I suppose you have a call to make. But survival comes from responsibility. If I were to end my story, I would be cheating myself, every small part that is working to have the next moment and every other person who depends upon me, who finds laughter in my gallows humor.

    Don’t be in a rush to join Henry V111 and the history books.

  2. So, I’m always kind and help those in need, but Its just an empty gesture. I still feel, well, nothing whatsoever. I have no dreams, goals, hobbies, aspirations, talent, life plans, motivation, happiness, etc. I could go on, but you get the idea. I can’t even Express emotions properly or react to life with anything more than a blank stare (literally). I just shuffle through day in and day out. Nothing inspires me or interests me in any meaningful way. I still feel like an empty husk waiting for the day I wither away into nothingness. 44 years gone. Zero to show for it… what’s the point in living if you can’t figure out how to live?

  3. Thanks for sharing your experience of life so openly, @Murdaigean. I can understand this neutral feeling you have, as though there’s very little passion in your life.

    We have a free masterclass available that goes for about 60 minutes. It’s about “embracing your inner beast”. I think the advice here would be very valuable for anyone who feels the way you do:

    Check it out and see if it’s useful to you at all. I’m wishing you all the best.

  4. I share your thoughts. It would mean a great deal to have someone to talk to that feels even close to what I do. There is depression and then there is what’s past depression. A place where even escape means nothing.
    My cell 208-512-4454 my email [email protected].


    I had a lot of suicide thoughts lately. I searched a lot of websites or articles to find a reason to live but I already debunked all the reasons for myself and as a last light of hope I’m going to share it with you. You never lived my life and you can’t imagine the pain I’ve been throw. Let’s start with some information about myself.

    I’m 17 years old and I will be 18 in 2 or 3 months. I’m from Iran. I don’t have any friend there are some guys from school but you can’t call them a friend .I have a family a kind brother with a father and mother. I don’t have a job .Our family isn’t poor neither rich we are somewhere in the middle but these aren’t really important .The important thing is my mindset. I know you would judge me any way but stay out of it .As a fact know that people that are this close to death doesn’t feel fear and they don’t care about others. I thought this might be a good tip for those guys that are trying to prevent suicide another thing I think I had to mention is that I’m a Baha’i . I know when I mention this people are going to go crazy on this article and say this is just meant to ruin Baha’is face in the internet or something like that I might want to kill myself but I will never do anything bad to the faith.

    With all the things being said let’s start debunking all of the reasons they tell to prevent you from killing yourself but at the beginning you might think why you should do this .Well, I think the answer to this relies under the question “Why you Shouldn’t ? “ I mean a reason to live. Why this has to be our life and why we are living it.

    Reason 1 : Life is always moving forward and changing

    Alright, they say life is changing and all that but when there is nothing to live for so what does that even mean. Doesn’t matter how it changes you still in this world stuck with humans and laws that you are surrounded by. You say it’s changing but that’s not really how it is. You should do something somehow in order to change it. You have to try and suffer to change it. This is all God’s game or something you didn’t choose to be here to be born like this .Why you should choose to suffer? waking up every morning just to see another day like yesterday and doesn’t matter how tomorrow is going to change by looking at others lives you find out there is nothing in here waiting for you .Sex ,drugs ,going to space, running big companies , watching TV ,making money , dress well and ….

    Here is what others have reached in their lives but somehow none of them is interesting for me .I don’t want to study or learn something none of them is enjoying to me anymore.

    Reason 2 : Your reason to live depends entirely on you

    I never had a reason to live and you saying it depends on me doesn’t mean anything actually And if so it depends on me I didn’t find anything that worth the life I’m living right now.

    Reason 3 :You don’t have to find a reason to live

    What ? you mean we taking all this pain all this effort for nothing if we don’t have to find it. You are saying it shows up in your actions and all I’m trying to say is why should take any action in this world. Trying to be best of our life and why we should that exactly for ? because we were born to this world by our parents and this is how need to act ?

    Reason 4 : You can find your purpose by starting with kindness

    “Start to find you self by your actions” What actions are you talking about? Kindness is so small in my life I don’t even consider that. just because my girlfriend give me a kiss on my cheek or my friend buy me a free cigarette I have to carry all this pain and work hard for life. Just thinking about how people want to live more for small things like this encourages me to kill myself sooner.

    Reason 5 : The most challenging moments are the ones that define us

    Yeah my challenging moment defines me as a weak boy who wanted to kill himself. My whole life defines me not just my hard moments .I had some good time in life too. But it really isn’t enough to live my life. I’m so disappointed at myself I can’t do anything .I’m not good at anything I’m so lazy I just want to sleep and eat and I already walked throw I don’t take any really kindness. Don’t come to me and say I’m important to you or anyone else because I understand you don’t care why you consider someone in the other half of the world.

    Reason 6: You owe it to yourself—and your family—to find a new reason for living

    I owe no one nothing. I didn’t ask my family to bring me to this world and myself is just telling me to go to a long sleep . The moment I kill myself none of it matters really . my family my friend none of them matter I don’t even care about them

    Reason 7 : Don’t underestimate your value in the world

    You delete my whole family from this world and literally nothing changes. belive me ! we don’t impact anything in this world . billion galaxies this end less sky . you delete the whole human race and nothing nothing changes . yes we impact each other but I don’t enjoy that impact like love, loyalty, sacrifices and all that none them matters to me really.

    Even if I enjoyed some activities like programing or playing games eating food or ……

    I enjoy cutting my throat a lot more than that and then I don’t have to do anything ever again

  6. salam,khobi?zendeii??

  7. Avatar for Hal Hal says:

    Not sure if you’re still active but I’m curious now. You still there? Any updates on your life?

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Written by Justin Brown

I'm Justin Brown, the founder of Ideapod. I've overseen the evolution of Ideapod from a social network for ideas into a publishing and education platform with millions of monthly readers and multiple products helping people to think critically, see issues clearly and engage with the world responsibly.

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