Chuck Palahniuk

“Don’t do what you want. Do what you don’t want. Do what you’re trained not to want. Do the things that scare you the most.”

Life is short. It’s a recurring theme here on Beyond the Rhetoric, particularly with the Sunday Snippet series, that we all need to make the most out of what little time we have on this planet. We want to be happy. We want to make an impact. We want to matter.

In order to accomplish these goals, sometimes we have to step outside of our comfort zones. Indeed, American novelist Chuck Palahniuk says we should aspire to do the things we don’t want to do.

Best known for authoring the Fight Club book that would go on to become the movie of the same name starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, Chuck Palahniuk refers to his stories as “transgressional fiction” and he’s been dubbed a nihilist. This is partly because his narratives often involve characters who have been marginalized by society. Palahniuk sees himself as a romantic, but that’s another discussion for another day.

Life is short. And you can react to this harsh fact of reality in one of two ways. You can see life as the briefest of opportunities and that’s why you should do what you love, even if it is not your career. We all want to be happy. Wasting our hours away at jobs that we hate and then complaining about life in our off-hours is, well, a waste. There’s simply no time to be bitter or resentful.

Alternatively, since our time is so limited, the only way we can reach our true potential is by pushing our outer limits. It’s going beyond what provides us with intrinsic happiness and fulfillment. It’s overcoming the comforts of mediocrity, fighting through the things that we abhor and the things that strike fear in our hearts, in order to achieve something far greater. It’s making the hard decisions. It’s being uncomfortable. It’s only by shooting for the stars that we may land on the moon.

And that’d be pretty great.