Positive Existentialism

"Existence precedes essence," said Sartre, in 1945. It defines existentialism. What it means is that our essence is created by us. We exist, and then we create our essence. I create mine. You create yours. The essence is all of who and what we are, and more importantly, who and what we want to be.

It is about choice. It is about the future as perhaps the most important time, or even the only time we actually have. What we do in the present shapes that future and therefore if we have a clear view of it, a clear destination, we can stabilize our actions in the present towards that destination.

The future we choose becomes an anchor attached to what we want for ourselves, serving as a stable point that we pull ourselves towards. Like an island in the ocean, we can see it, and despite the currents and storms we never lose track of it. That is where we are going. That is where we choose to go. Because it is our choice to make, and no one else's. It also does not have to be exclusively long term, short term goals and tasks can also benefit from this approach.

But why "positive?" In short, I hacked existentialist thought in two: positive and negative. And chose to focus on the positive. Life is short, make it a positive one. I don't deny that there is value in the study of negative arguments and thoughts related to life and death and the self. I only choose not to invest my precious life energy into what I see as pointless negativity, or the thought that "if we are all going to die, then life is worthless." On the contrary, "if we are all going to die, life is that more precious and worth living." Both arguments can be valid, so again, it is my choice to go the positive way. A fundamental choice that kickstarts it all. The positive big bang.

The positive advantage is also that it enhances the color of life. The taste. The smell. The sound. The beatings of the heart and the loving look in the eye. Positive is our search. A journey towards all things good and amazing, according to us. It becomes also about promoting positivity everywhere. Within ourselves and also into our environment. We influence our environment in a positive way.

Importantly, positive existentialism is "it's own thing." While I am fond of so many scholars, philosophers, ideas and scientific research that speak to this, I don't see it as falling under another umbrella. It is its own umbrella, in case it rains, that is.

While I explore more about positive existentialism in my blog and in my academic work, here are some references that I think you might enjoy in the meantime: