This is the transcript of an episode of Stefan Molyneux’s Freedomain Radio, in which he gives probably the single greatest answer ever to the most common complaint you will inevitably hear from a
whiny, self-absorbed, modern, educated, working person. Take it away, Stefan…
“This is about the most common question that I get, and I am going to give you the answer of answers. This will be the video that we will be directing all the people to who ask this question:
"Stef, I've been working at the same job now lo these four years. No promotions or raises. I've noticed recently that I am very apathetic towards my job. I do it to the letter, but nothing extra, no initiative and no fulfillment. I like the job. The people are great and I realize this apathy comes from a lack of incentive for a raise or promotion. The company I work for doesn't do raises and prefers to just replace older, more experienced people when they inevitably leave. But, here's the kicker... The new people are always hired at higher salaries than older personnel which makes no sense to me. This, of course, only serves to aggravate the situation as there's policy against discussing wages, but people talk anyway. I fear I'm falling in a vicious circle — I think he means "cycle" — of not showing any initiative because of lower wages, and that leads to my superiors not considering me for any advancement. I used to be a top performer in my team, but now I just grind away, just achieving, but not overachieving. So the question is: How do I deal with work apathy? Is this job salvageable, or do I have to start fresh?"
Hmm, I guess my answer to this and many other questions about motivation is — you’re going to die.
Let me tell you something ironic. The very first video I ever did on YouTube was “Live Like You Are Dying” which was , you know, when you’re on your deathbed you can look back and what decisions you will want to have made, and what will you regret and what will you be proud of? And, that’s one way to guide your life.
Last year, a very aggressive form of cancer struck me, and I went through chemo, radiation therapy… and boy, don’t you hate it when you have to go from theory to practice. It’s one thing to waffle burger on about Death’s door closing over you like Bruce, the giant shark from Jaws’s mouth, but it’s quite another thing to wake up and feel like Wile E. Coyote stuck at the bottom of a cartoon canyon with the anvil of death fast approaching.
So, let me remind you and tell you once again. You, my friend, are going to die.
Now, maybe your death will be a quick death. Maybe, you’ll get hit by a bus while listening to Van Halen.
I don’t know.
Maybe, you will suffer an aneurysm during the greatest orgasm of your life. Well, I guess it will have to be a pretty good one cause it will be your last. Maybe, you’ll have a life ending moment where you won’t have a chance to process regrets, where you won’t have a chance to look at your life. Where you won’t be like the comic shop owner in the Simpsons. When the nuclear bomb hits and he says, “I’ve wasted my life”, just before he dies. Maybe, that won’t happen. But it probably will.
You will probably get news of an illness that will give you months in which to reflect.
You will probably have a long time in a hospital bed knowing, really, that you’re never going to get out of that bed again — that’s a one-way ticket. The bed opens up, you fall into the ground, they throw some dirt in your face, say a few hymns, and get on with their lives.
What’s that hospital bed gonna be like for you?
See, you’re complaining about life. “I have too many choices!” you say. “I have too many
options. I could leave. I could stay, but I just don’t seem to have, oh, too much motivation
to do anything.
You’re breathing aren’t ya!? You know, that in-and-out thing, the chest going up and down, oxygenated blood running through your system firing up your muscles to do anything you want with this incredible gift called life. Four million—four billion years in the making… Amoeba had sex in the primordial slime to grant you the opportunity of doing anything you want in this incredible world. Maybe, they didn’t even like each other. But, they’re like, “it’s for that guy down the road, man. I mean, I know we’re only Amoebas—I know we’re only slime. It’s like having sex with a jellyfish and I’m not even in to jellyfish.
But, let’s put our gross bits together, make another piece of slime, who can make another piece of slime, who can make some seaweed, who can make some fish, who can make a frog, who could make a lizard, who could make a dinosaur, who could step on a mammal, who can pray for the ice to crush the dinosaurs, so they can evolve into monkeys, split off into Neanderthals, Paleolithics, hominids, human beings, Homo sapiens…” All for you!
The universe has repulsively fucked itself senseless to give you life! Aah! And, you’re complaining that you’re just not that motivated at work! Really?! Really?!
Every day is a gift. It’s a cliché because nobody lives that way. Clichés are stuff that everybody accepts and nobody lives. “I’ll do anything for my children.” Stop hitting them. Stay home with them. “Well, no. Not that. I mean, I love my condo downtown, and I find spending time with my kids can be a little dull, so…” No. “I love my wife. I would do anything for my wife.” Put down the iPad and chat with her. “Well, no. There is a breaking story on Fox News that might be interesting. I can chat about it with her later.
Clichés are what everybody knows to be true and almost nobody lives by. You know you’re dying, right? You know that your days are grains of sand in an hourglass, right?
And frankly, you’re whining about living in the most advanced economy, in the freest political time, with the greatest wealth and abundance, with the most opportunities that any carbon-based life form on this planet has ever had.
The dinosaurs were like, “Uh, I don’t know I’ll eat another dinosaur. I’ll shit bits of scale out in the bottom. Oh shit, an asteroid!” (makes explosion sound) That’s it for them. All they can hope for is to be resurrected in CGI. You know, there are billions of bacteria in your belly. What would they give to trade places with your neo-frontal cortex, and be the robot operator of this giant flesh machine of opportunity? I mean, do you want to switch places with them and watch fucking tacos slide by slowly turning into goo to fuel your muscles so you can flap your mouth hole complaining about your life?! You’re not bacteria in your colon! Yay!. That’s great! Yay, to not being bowel infested bacteria. Urm, good! That’s a great way to start the day, and you don’t have to have sex with other bacteria that are rolling around in your own shit. Yeah! Isn’t that a beautiful way to start the day?
I mean, I get it. Look, I get it. I will slide into this from time to time and can kvetch
and complain, and so on… a little bit less then when I got cancer, but it happens. I
get it and I—you know, I give this speech to myself too. Like, “Yay, don’t have to
have sex with an amoeba. Always a good day, I mean, unless you regularly make out with
your beanbag and get an erection. It’s not the best way to spend your Saturday night.
I guarantee you my friend that when you get to that one-way hospital bed from which you
will not arise… You know, you’re driving in traffic, an ambulance goes by. “Damn, that’s annoying. Got to pull over.” You know that ambulance? Well, you know that ambulance, one day, is going to have you in it, and you will be going to the hospital and you will not be coming home. Your half-finished cup of coffee, Sudoku, and crosswords will never be finished. You know that book you were always thinking about writing never will be written! That instrument you wanted to learn how to play, that song you wanted to sing, the poem you wanted to write, that business you wanted to start, that woman you wanted to ask out… It will never happen because that ambulance has no reverse… it goes down the road to that hospital. You get carted out the back. It goes to pick someone else up, and you ain’t never going home. You ain’t never going back. The only home you’re going to is a coffin or an urn, and people will be sad for a little while, and like everybody else in the world, they move on with their lives.
I guarantee you when you’re in that hospital bed, you will look back and you will
say, “God damn, I wish I had the problems that I had twenty years ago, or ten years
ago, or even yesterday.” At the End Times of your final days, what would you not trade
to be back where you are right now, complaining about all of these excesses of choice. You
know, I don’t get a lot of letters from people stuck in gulags saying, “you know, it’s kind
of like the same day over and over again. You know, they toss me out of bed and I got
to go working hacking ice sculptures for Putin. I don’t get—because those people have no
choices—I don’t get a lot of letters from people in prison saying, “I just don’t know
how to have a great day. I mean, what should I do? I don’t know. Do what the guards tell
you cause you got no choice.
You are complaining about having choices, being alive, being healthy… So, fuck, quit
your job. Start a company. Ask the woman out of your dreams. Ask the man out of your dreams.
Seize it! Seize it! Do something! Take a risk, or don’t take a risk, but be satisfied with
where you are. But complaining is like taking a slow, deuce-y dump on the only meal you’re ever going to get, then complaining about the taste. Your life is your meal. You are the cook. I’m sorry you had a tough childhood. I totally am. I get that. I’m sorry you don’t have people in your life shaking you by the neck and trying to rouse some energy, some rainbows shooting out of your spine, some fireworks with which to dazzle the planet,
or your neighbor, or your dog, or your fucking goldfish, or at least yourself. I’m sorry
you don’t have that. I guess I’ll bungee in and try and do that for you. There is no law,
no compulsion, no law of physics or man that is preventing you from living the life that
you want. Quit your job. Go travel. Go pick grapes in Queensland. Go scale the Andes.
Go pick garbage in Paris. It doesn’t matter, but do something to honor those repulsively
copulating pieces of DNA that got the whole gig started because we have a hell of a lot
more opportunity for fun, satisfaction, virtue, power, and brilliance than they ever had.
Don’t say “no” to the greatest gift in the entire universe.