In Defense of the Give Up and Die Philosophy

This entire website, based on the Give Up and Die mantra, is really nothing very new.  In fact, it is at the core of Buddhism and mystical Christianity (I mention these two, because they are the two I know the most about).  Recognizing impermanence is the secret to a long, happy life.  Everything changes, the good and the bad.  Stocks go down and up.  People are born and die.  The mantra “this too shall pass” could be enough religion most of us need.  It’s my mantra as a parent of three young kids:  when things are rough (long car rides, especially), I remember, this too shall pass.  It keeps me from over-reacting.  But more so when things are good:  the reminder that the good will pass as well helps me really take it in, even the mundane breakfast chats that I too often take for granted but I know I will miss dearly when my kids are off in the world.

Some may confuse Give Up and Die with nihilism, with quitting.  But Give Up and Die is about really living, and it’s hard.

The chore is to give up what is not essential and remember you will die.  Knowing death is near puts life in focus.  I’ve known terminally ill patients who have said that their diagnosis was the best thing that happened to them.  Not all, but some.  The sense of death being near shatters our illusions.  It forces the question:  what really matters?  For most of us, including me, life is bogged down by unimportant issues.  We waste days on projects, problems, and emotions that we wouldn’t give two seconds to if we knew we were about to die.

This is part of the reason why I think Christ said you had to die to truly live.  In the Christian sense, dying to your old self means giving up your past sinful life.  But honestly, most of us are not out drug dealing and terrorizing cities.  Most people, religious and non-religious alike, take an equal part of the blame for what’s wrong with the world.  So what did Christ really mean about dying and being born again?  What did St. Francis mean when he said by dying we are born to eternal life?  They meant, Give Up and Die:  When you give up all that is not essential (that’s, perhaps, what sin really is–wasting time on unnecessary tasks and emotions) and remember that you will soon die (in the next minute or decade or century), you are prepared to fully live life.

Give Up and Die in my own life has meant giving up a lot of fears and resentments, emotional baggage that only hurts me.  By giving up what people thing about me, I’ve been able to move forward as a writer, a musician, a father.

Many of us are weighed down by fears that limit what we get out of life.  Fear of switching careers, jobs, lovers.  We get trapped or stuck.  Give Up and Die might be what you need to unstick.

Or it might be what you need to stick with it.  Give Up and Die is also about letting go of constantly looking for something better.  Give up thinking you can change everybody and everything.  Every marriage could use a little Give Up and Die in it.  I know that I’ve been much happier since I’ve given up on my wife—given up constantly trying to change her, to get her to be how I want—and let her be who she his.  Same with kids.  A little Give Up and Die parenting is necessary (see my post on this).  A little death also helps.  Laying down a little of your life for someone else.

So there it is.  Give Up and Die is a full proof philosophy.  It might be just what you need to get out of a bad situation or come to terms with a bad situation.  It could end a marriage or save a marriage.  It could lead you to quit your job and move to Fiji, or, as it did for me, finally help you come to terms with a job you might not always like.  Only you can decide.  Meditation can get you there (check out this).

Give Up and Die…you’ll be glad you did.

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