Optimistic Nihilism


Human existence is scary and confusing. A few hundred thousand years ago, we became conscious and found ourselves in a strange place. It was filled with other beings. We could eat some; some could eat us. There was liquid stuff we could drink; things we could use to make more things. The daytime sky had a tiny yellow ball that warmed our skin. The night sky was filled with beautiful lights. This place was obviously made for us. Something was watching over us. We were home. This made everything much less scary and confusing. But the older we got, the more we learned about the world and ourselves. We learned that the twinkling lights are not shining beautifully for us, they just are. We learned that we’re not at the center of what we now call the universe, and that it is much, much older than we thought. We learned that we’re made of many little dead things, which make up bigger things that are not dead, for some reason, and that we’re just another temporary stage in a history going back over a billion years. We learned, in awe, that we live on a moist speck of dust moving around a medium-sized star in a quiet region of one arm of an average galaxy, which is part of a galaxy group that we will never leave. And this group is only one of thousands that, together, make up a galaxy supercluster. But even our supercluster is only one in thousands that make up what we call the observable universe. The universe might be a million times bigger, but we will never know. We can throw words around like two hundred million galaxies or trillions of stars or bazillions of planets, but all of these numbers mean nothing. Our brains can’t comprehend these concepts. The universe is too big. There is too much of it. But size is not the most troubling concept we have to deal with. It’s time, or, more precisely, the time we have. If you’re lucky enough to live to one hundred, you have five thousand two hundred weeks at your disposal. If you’re twenty-five now, then you have three thousand nine hundred weeks left. If you’re going to die at seventy, then there are two thousand three hundred and forty weeks left – a lot of time, but also … not really. And then what? Your biological processes will break down, and the dynamic pattern that is you will stop beinge dynamic. It will dissolve until there is no you left. Some believe that there is a part of us we can’t see or measure, but we have no way to find out, so this life might be it and we might end up dead forever. This is less scary than it sounds, though. If you don’t remember the 13.75 billion years that went by before you existed, Then the trillions and trillions and trillions of years that come after will pass in no time once you’re gone. Close your eyes. Count to 1. That’s how long forever feels. And as far as we know, in the end, the universe itself will die and nothing will ever change again. Our videos induce existential dread in many people, and the last few minutes probably haven’t helped. So, for once, we want to offer a different way of looking at these things: an unscientific, subjective point of view, the philosophy of Kurzgesagt, if you want. Please take it with a grain of salt; we don’t know any more about human existence than you do. We counter existential dread with optimistic nihilism. What do we mean by that? Well, to summarize, it seems very unlikely that 200 trillion trillion stars have been made for us. In a way, it feels like the cruelest joke in existence has been played on us. We became self-aware only to realize this story is not about us. While it is great to know about electrons and the powerhouse of the cell, Science doesn’t do a lot to make this less depressing. Okay, but so what? You only get one shot at life, which is scary, but it also sets you free. If the universe ends in heat death, every humiliation you suffer in your life will be forgotten. Every mistake you made will not matter in the end. Every bad thing you did will be voided. If our life is all we get to experience, then it’s the only thing that matters. If the universe has no principles, the only principles relevant are the ones we decide on. If the universe has no purpose, then we get to dictate what its purpose is. Humans will most certainly cease to exist at some point, but before we do, we get to explore ourselves and the world around us. We get to experience feelings. We get to experience food, books, sunrises, and being with each other. The fact that we’re even able to think about these things is already kind of incredible. It’s easy to think of ourselves as separated from everything, but this is not true. We are as much the universe as a neutron star or a black hole or a nebula. Even better, actually, we are its thinking and feeling part: the centre organs of the universe. We are truly free in a universe-sized playground, so we might as well aim to be happy and to build some kind of utopia in the stars. It’s not as if we’ve found out everything there is to know We don’t know why the rules of the universe are as they are, how life came into existence, what life is. We have no idea what consciousness is or if we are alone in the universe. But we can try to find some answers. There are billions of stars to visit, diseases to cure, people to help, happy feelings to be experienced, and video games to finish. There is so much to do. So, wrapping up, you’ve probably used up a good chunk of the time available to you. If this is our one shot at life, there is no reason not to have fun and live as happy as possible. Bonus points if you made the life of other people better. More bonus points if you help build a galactic human empire. Do the things that make you feel good. You get to decide whatever this means for you.


100 Responses

  1. Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell

    February 8, 2019 2:02 pm

    There's brand new stuff in the Kurzgesagt Merch Shop. Check it out here: shop.kurzgesagt.org

  2. That one youtuber Who does anything

    August 29, 2019 1:42 pm

    What do u guys think what our afterlife will be like and why?
    (Except religion)

  3. Tuany Bignotto

    August 29, 2019 3:41 pm

    "nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everybody is gonna die, come watch TV."
    Also Hakuna Matata cause everything you do won't matter being it right or wrong.

  4. FireJach

    August 29, 2019 5:14 pm

    I believe humans can turn into god things because why not.. It would takes millions of years but who knows. There was a really small cellphone who turned into a rocket scientistic

  5. Saikat Biswas

    August 30, 2019 2:03 am

    After watching this video
    90% people : the universe is meaningless, let's blaze 420 and waste around (read: have fun)

    The rest: if this universe is meaningless, let's assign our own purpose and meaning to it: astounding physical, emotional, financial health and fulfilling relationships

  6. Nathan Bailey

    August 30, 2019 3:00 pm

    I think it’s funny that religious people equate nihilism with pessimism. I personally think it’s beautiful that life is meaningless. You get to attach to your own meaning with what you do with your time on this tiny piece of sand floating around in space.

  7. Az nab

    August 30, 2019 5:25 pm

    Thank you guys, this is one of the most inspiring and feel good videos I watched on youtube. I try to listen to it at least once a day just to remember my place in the Universe! I like the idea of Optimistic Nihilism

  8. TheBananalious

    August 30, 2019 6:48 pm

    We live that’s it, why were we made or created by accident or on purpose. We live that’s all. So just live

  9. FennecTECH

    August 31, 2019 6:20 am

    and this is only the observable universe How much stuff is beyond that? We dont have the faintest clue Couldent even guess every single number you used to discribe the cosmos is absolutely menaingless

  10. Zaithe

    August 31, 2019 10:36 am

    yep, and your no more valuable than a rat @kurzgesagt as well as me, try to make yourself feel better its called optimism.

  11. Scientific Humanist

    August 31, 2019 5:42 pm

    And don’t forget to have lots and LOTS of SEX! That is your evolutionary obligation! 👍🏼😁🥳

  12. Abdullah Hamad

    August 31, 2019 9:27 pm

    "You only get one shot at life".
    False! I have multiple lives, like a video game.

    "You are the thinking and feeling part".
    False! I used to think and feel, but evil psychiatrists and terrorists destroyed my ability to do so.

    Optimistic nihilism is no good. How about optimistic compassion, something less selfish and Un-Randian?

  13. Robbe De Cordt

    August 31, 2019 9:59 pm

    oh man I LOVE this video!! I'm living in a permanent existential crisis, but these things really cheer me up. Just hearing that it doesn't matter at all. Thank you so much!!!

  14. Me'haz

    September 1, 2019 9:33 am

    One time two men were washing in a pool. Under some extraordinary influence they lost their senses and when they opened their eyes, they saw that it had transported them to a strange land. It was such that with its perfect order it was like a country, or rather a town, or a palace. They looked around themselves in complete bewilderment: if it was looked at in one way, a vast world was apparent; if in another, a well-ordered country; and if in another, a fine town. And if it was looked at in still another way, it was a palace which comprised a truly magnificent world. Travelling around this strange world, they observed it and saw that creatures of one sort were speaking in a fashion, but they did not understand their language. Nevertheless, it was understood from their signs that they were performing important works and duties.
    One of the two men said to his friend: "This strange world must have someone to regulate it, and this orderly country must have a lord, and this fine town, an owner, and this finely made palace, a master builder. We must try to know him, for it is understood that the one who brought us here was he. If we do not recognize him, who will help us? What can we await from these impotent creatures whose language we do not know and who do not heed us? Moreover, surely one who makes a vast world in the form of a country, town, and palace, and fills it from top to bottom with wonderful things, and embellishes it with every sort of adornment, and decks it out with instructive miracles wants something from us and from those that come here. We must get to know him and find out what he wants."
    The other man said: "I do not believe it, that there is a person such as the one you speak of, and that he governs this whole world on his own."
    His friend replied to him: "If we do not recognize him and remain indifferent towards him, there is no advantage in it at all, and if it is harmful, its harm will be immense. Whereas if we try to recognize him, there is little hardship involved, and if there is benefit, it will be great. Therefore, it is in no way sensible to remain indifferent towards him."
    The foolish man said: "I consider all my ease and enjoyment to lie in not thinking of him. Also, I am not going to bother with things that make no sense to me. All these things are the confused objects of chance, they are happening by themselves. What is it to me?"
    His intelligent friend replied: "This obstinacy of yours will push me, and a lot of others, into disaster. It sometimes happens that a whole country is laid waste because of one ill-mannered person."
    So the foolish man turned to him and said: "Either prove to me decisively that this large country has a single lord and a single maker, or leave me alone."
    His friend replied: "Your obstinacy has reached the degree of lunacy, and you will be the cause of some disaster being visited on us. So I shall show you twelve proofs demonstrating that this world which is like a palace, and country which is like town, has a single maker and that it is only he who runs and administers everything. He is completely free of all deficiency. This maker, who does not appear to us, sees us and everything, and hears our words. All his works are miracles and marvels. All these creatures whom we see but whose tongues we do not understand are his officials."
    A hidden hand is working within all these works. For something which has not even an ounce of strength, {(*): This alludes to seeds, which bear trees on their heads.} something as small as a seed, is raising a load of thousands of pounds. And something that does not have even a particle of consciousness {(*): This indicates delicate plants like the grapevine, which themselves cannot climb or bear the weight of fruits, so throwing their delicate arms around other plants or trees and winding themselves around them, they load themselves onto them.} is performing extremely wise and purposeful works. That means they are not working by themselves, but that a hidden possessor of power is causing them to work. If they were independent, it would necessitate all the works which we see everywhere in this land being miracles and everything to be a wonder-working marvel. And that is nonsense. SECOND PROOF
    Come, look carefully at the things which adorn all these plains, fields, and dwellings! There are marks on each telling of that hidden one. Simply, each gives news of Him like a seal or stamp. Look in front of your eyes: what does He make from one ounce of cotton? {(*): This indicates a seed. For example, a poppy seed like an atom, the kernel of an apricot stone, and a tiny melon seed, produce from the treasury of mercy woven leaves finer than broadcloth, flowers whiter than linen, and fruits sweeter than sugar and more delicate and delicious than sweets and conserves, and they offer them to us.} See how many rolls of cloth, fine linen, and flowered material have come out of it. See how many sugared delights and round sweets are being made. If thousands of people like us were to clothe themselves in them and eat them, they would still be sufficient. And look! He has taken a handful of iron, water, earth, coal, copper, silver, and gold, and made some flesh {(*): This indicates the creation of animal bodies from the elements, and living creatures from sperm.} out of them. Look at that and see! O foolish one! These works are particular to such a one that all this land together with all its parts is under his miraculous power and is submissive to his every wish.
    Come, look at these mobile works of art! {(*): This alludes to animals and humans. For since animals are tiny indexes of the world, and man is a miniature sample of the universe, whatever there is in the world, a sample of it is in man.} Each has been fashioned in such a way that it is simply a miniature sample of the huge palace. Whatever there is in the palace, it is found in these tiny mobile machines. Is it at all possible that someone other than the palace's maker could come and include the wondrous palace in a tiny machine? Also, is it at all possible that although he has included a whole world in a machine the size of a box, there could be anything in it that was purposeless or could be attributed to chance? That means that however many skilfully fashioned machines you can see, each is like a seal of that hidden one. Rather, each is like a herald or proclamation. Through their tongues of disposition they are saying: "We are the art of One Who can make this entire world of ours as easily and simply as He created us."
    Risale-i Nur Collection Words – 287

  15. Conrad Prasky

    September 1, 2019 2:45 pm

    its okay guys, youre nothing and life is meaningless, but at least you can eat ice cream with ur friends!

  16. Me'haz

    September 1, 2019 3:35 pm

    As may be established empirically, matter is not essential so that existence may be made subject to it, and be dependent on it. Rather, matter subsists through a meaning, and that meaning is life, it is spirit.
    Also, as may be established through observation, matter is not the thing served so that everything may be ascribed to it. It is rather the servant; it renders service to the process of the perfection of a truth. And that truth is life. And the fundament of that truth is spirit.
    Also, as is self-evident, matter is not dominant so that recourse may be made to it or perfections sought from it. Rather, it is dominated; it looks to the decree of some fundament, it is in motion in the way that that decree dictates. And that fundament is life, it is spirit, it is consciousness.
    Also, as is necessary, matter is not the kernel, it is not the fundament, it is not a settled abode so that events and perfections may be affixed to it or constructed on it. Rather, it is a shell prepared to be split, rent, dissolved; it is a husk, it is froth, it is a form.
    Consider the following: a creature so minute it can only be seen with a microscope has such acute senses it can hear its friend's voice, and see its sustenance; it has extremely sensitive and sharp senses. This demonstrates that the effects of life increase and the light of the spirit intensifies in proportion to the reducing and refining of matter. It is as though the more matter is refined and the more we become distanced from our material existences, the closer we draw to the world of the spirit, the world of life, and the world of consciousness; and the more intensely the heat of the spirit and the light of life are manifested.
    Is it therefore at all possible that there should be this many distillations of life, consciousness, and spirit within this veil of materiality, and that the inner world which is beyond this veil should not be full of conscious beings and beings with spirits? Is it at all possible that the sources of these numberless distillations, flashes, and fruits of meaning, spirit, life and the truth apparent in this material existence in the Manifest World should be ascribed only to matter and the motion of matter, and be explained by it? God forbid! Absolutely not! These innumerable distillations and flashes demonstrate that this material and manifest world is but a lace veil strewn over the inner and spirit worlds.
    Risale-i Nur Collection Words – 526

  17. Me'haz

    September 1, 2019 3:37 pm

    Fifth Principle:
    You will understand, too, that all of these transient objects have not been created for the sake of annihilation, in order to appear briefly and then vanish. The purpose for their creation is rather briefly to be assembled in existence and acquire the desired form, so that these may be noted, their images preserved, their meanings known, and their results recorded. This is so that, for example, everlasting spectacles might be wrought for the people of eternity, and that they might serve other purposes in the realm of eternity. You will understand that things have been created for eternity, not for annihilation; and as for apparent annihilation, it has the sense of a completion of duty and a release from service, for every transient thing advances to annihilation with one aspect, but remains eternally with numerous other aspects.
    Look, for example, at the flower, a word of God's power; for a short time it smiles and looks at us, and then hides behind the veil of annihilation. It departs just like a word leaving your mouth. But it does so entrusting thousands of its fellows to men's ears. It leaves behind meanings in men's minds as numerous as those minds. The flower, too, expressing its meaning and thus fulfilling its function, goes and departs. But it goes leaving its apparent form in the memory of everything that sees it, its inner essence in every seed. It is as if each memory and seed were a camera to record the adornment of the flower, or a means for its perpetuation. If such be the case with an object at the simplest level of life, it can be readily understood how closely tied to eternity is man, the highest form of life and the possessor of an eternal soul. Again, from the fact that the laws each resembling a spirit according to which large flowering and fruit bearing plants are formed and the representations of their forms are preserved and perpetuated in most regular fashion in tiny seeds throughout tempestuous changes – from this fact it can be easily understood how closely tied and related to eternity is the spirit of man, which possesses an extremely exalted and comprehensive nature, and which although clothed in a body, is a conscious and luminous law issuing from the divine command.
    Risale-i Nur Collection Words 86-Bediüzzaman Said Nursi

  18. RubiSempai

    September 1, 2019 3:47 pm

    this video came just in the right moment to make me remember what are the important things in life… really, really thank you.

  19. Sam19indigo

    September 1, 2019 9:36 pm

    I've been suffering from depression for several years now and your videos are bringing some peace to my mind when there is only chaos and darkness. Thank you so much!

  20. Jordan Miller

    September 2, 2019 1:59 am

    We all should just live our lives like he said he's right we only get one shot. Also I love your videos

  21. Marcos Pinto

    September 2, 2019 2:12 am

    Lately what I feel is life is just like a video game you ALWAYS die in the end. Not fun. And before the end you see the ones you love die too. For me, life is simply meaningless. No purpose at all. And one day the Earth will be gone and it will be as if we had never existed. All this suffering for nothing.
    Of course, while we're still here, if we're lucky enough to afford it, let's forget about the others and enjoy the ride, right?

  22. Stefano Scacco

    September 2, 2019 1:18 pm

    Ooooh, someone has read Nietzsche… This video is pretty much active nihilism, which is his biggest philosophical achievement, mixed with contemporary knowledge. I totally agree with everything you say.

    Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

  23. Sean The Large Bread

    September 2, 2019 3:47 pm

    Going by this logic, Pedophilia, Rape, Murder, Torture, Theft and all that we consider bad should be completely alright… 🤡

  24. David Bray

    September 2, 2019 6:45 pm

    I found the begging part very comforting. After I die, I really hope nothing happens. If my conscious continues to exist, it will watch humanity thrive, then perish, and then be stuck watching the void forever.

    But when you told me to close my eyes for a second, and said that’s what eternity feels like, I found that relieving.

    This might be my favourite YouTube video ever. Thank you.

  25. BORNtaPLAY

    September 3, 2019 12:59 am

    Even in our own time, no one will ever be important, think about names of people who lived over 100 years ago. Youd probably not be able to name 50. The statistics of even being remembered a century from now are 1 in hundreds of millions

  26. Cool Bro

    September 3, 2019 1:02 am

    Im so sorry the people at Kurzgesagt dont know Jesus and i hope one day you all find him. This isnt it. We have everlasting life just open your eyes.

  27. Gabriel Fernandes

    September 3, 2019 1:57 am

    So…basically you acuse religion as a estetical bunch of nonsense that helped us dealing with existential anxiety and then you propose another bunch of estetical arguments to deal with existential nonsense?
    Good job

  28. Moonturns Thetides

    September 3, 2019 3:27 am

    Person reading this, whatever you have been stressed or worried about doesn’t matter. It’s you and your thoughts making it something it shouldn’t be. Everything is. Choose how to respond.

  29. y'allgotanyfuckinlamps z

    September 3, 2019 3:28 am

    “The universe is a cruel, uncaring void. The key to being happy isn't a search for meaning. It's to just keep yourself busy with unimportant nonsense, and eventually, you'll be dead.”
    -Mr. Peanutbutter

  30. Zabe Ryerams

    September 3, 2019 4:20 am

    A friend on iFunny asked how I was and I told them that I was feeling meh, so they sent me this. Ight then

  31. chulei qian

    September 3, 2019 10:56 am

    Deliberately come here to give this video a like, although I still fall into pessimistic nihilism, this video has caused me to think about philosophical issues, thank you!

  32. luis ger

    September 3, 2019 1:47 pm

    I love this video, It doesn't matter how many times I see or how I'm feeling at the moment, it makes me think and somehow I'm always happy after it, thank you Kurzgesagt for putting so much love and effort on this kind of projects.

  33. homo gay

    September 3, 2019 2:15 pm

    Great video but it's kinda naive to assume that human lifespan will be even remotely the same when most of YouTube community gets old

  34. GiggledJuice H

    September 3, 2019 6:16 pm

    The thing is this: We just don't know enough to make assumptions like "I don't know the reason why I live". Maybe in another universe the concept of 'Cause and effect' does not exist and this assumption just does not work. There is so much that assumptions cannot be made.
    Going one step further: we cannot make assumptions about probabilities. Saying that the universe is so big that it contains too much possible concepts and therefor making assumptions do not make sense is might not true. Maybe in a universe where probabilities work different, assumptions make much sense and maybe every your little single life indeed is very important.
    So yes, optimistic nihilism makes sense – or doesn't it?

  35. Gabriel

    September 3, 2019 10:23 pm

    We will find a way.
    100 years ago flying was impossible, hundreds of years ago if you got sick, you were probably done for.
    We will find a way.

  36. WeebsurfingWeeb

    September 4, 2019 6:42 am

    Ah yes let's just ignore it till it happens, it's all meaningless anyway regardless of what you do good bad or nothing. If its meaningless it's got no point even with all the meaning we do attach and we'll never see one another again. Better to just pull the trigger now then wait all those weeks.

  37. Sydala Tristan

    September 4, 2019 7:45 am

    This gave me an existential crisis, and a new view on things. Depressed and not so much at the same time.

  38. Jihyun J.

    September 4, 2019 6:26 pm

    Going to be working at a early childhood environment that focuses on futuristic settings and values! So exciting

  39. Fermin Enrique Zamora Pineda

    September 4, 2019 8:22 pm

    Cuando tenía 8 años empecé a darme cuenta de esto que llamamos realidad y me cuestionaba todo, a los 11 me dio una depresión muy horrible por la sensación de estar "soñando" y de pensar que se sentiría ser alguien mas o incluso otro tipo de ser vivo y si realmente las cosas seguían estando ahí aunque no las viera, y de lo limitados que son nuestros sentidos, me quería morir para saber que pasaría y pues el sentimiento de estar soñando era horrible. Actualmente ya me acostumbré y me da igual, pero no he encontrado a nadie que haya sentido eso y que le haya parecido terrible

  40. yousef issa

    September 5, 2019 1:10 am

    Bruh, literally watched two videos in a row that make me think differently about life this one and the egg…….


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