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i will listen to your advice in the future
i figured it out, and this time it works, i added in comments to make reading it easier, thank you to those who helped.

package gameolife;
import java.util.Random;
public class Life {
        private static final int ROW = 40;
        private static final int COL = 40;

    public static void main(String[] args) {
        Random randGen = new Random(1);
//      sets up a 40x40 array with a 2 row x column buffer
        boolean[][] nextBoard = new boolean[ROW+2][COL+2];
        boolean[][] currBoard = new boolean[ROW+2][COL+2];
        
//      sets whole board equal to false
        for(int i = 1; i <= currBoard.length - 1; i++) {
            for(int j = 1; j <= currBoard.length - 1; j++) {
                currBoard[i][j] = false;
                nextBoard[i][j] = false;
            }
        }
//      random life game
        for (int k = 1; k < currBoard.length - 1; k++) {
            for (int l = 1; l < currBoard.length - 1; l++) {
                int random = randGen.nextInt(10);
                if (random==2) {
                    currBoard[k][l] = true;
                }
                if (random!=2) {
                    currBoard[k][l] = false;
                }
            }
        }
//      glider        
//      currBoard[30][30] = true;
//      currBoard[30][31] = true;
//      currBoard[30][32] = true;
//      currBoard[29][30] = true;
//      currBoard[28][31] = true;
        runMain(currBoard, nextBoard, 20);
    }
    private static void runMain (boolean[][] currBoard, boolean[][] nextBoard, int days) {
//      executes the continuation of the program
        printBoard(currBoard);
        copyBoard(currBoard, nextBoard);
        runStep(currBoard, nextBoard);
        printBoard(nextBoard);
        copyBoard(nextBoard, currBoard);
        runStep(nextBoard, currBoard);
        for (int g = 0; g <= days; g++) {
            printBoard(currBoard);
            copyBoard(currBoard, nextBoard);
            runStep(currBoard, nextBoard);
            printBoard(nextBoard);
            copyBoard(nextBoard, currBoard);
            runStep(nextBoard, currBoard);
        }
        
    }
    private static int countLiveNeighbors(int row, int col, boolean[][] board){
//      counts all the live neighbors around a specific cell (checks every cell)        
        int count = 0;
        if(board[row-1][col]){
            count++;
        }
        if(board[row+1][col]){
            count++;
        }
        if(board[row][col-1]){
            count++;
        }
        if(board[row][col+1]){
            count++;
        }
        if(board[row-1][col-1]){
            count++;
        }
        if(board[row-1][col+1]){
            count++;
        }
        if(board[row+1][col-1]){
            count++;
        }
        if(board[row+1][col+1]){
            count++;
        }
     return count;
     }

     private static void runStep(boolean[][] currBoard, boolean[][] nextBoard){
//      using countLiveNeighbors it determines if the surrounding cells, and the cell itself lives or dies that day         
        for (int f = 1; f < currBoard.length - 1; f++){
            for (int p = 1; p < currBoard.length - 1; p++) {
            if(countLiveNeighbors(f, p, currBoard) == 3)
                nextBoard[f][p] = true;
            if(countLiveNeighbors(f, p, currBoard) < 2)
                nextBoard[f][p] = false;
            if(countLiveNeighbors(f, p, currBoard) > 3)
                nextBoard[f][p] = false;
            }
        }
     }

    private static void copyBoard(boolean[][] currBoard, boolean[][]nextBoard) {
//      copies all the nextBoard values to the currBoard values        
        for (int y = 1; y < currBoard.length - 1; y++) {
            for (int z = 1; z < currBoard.length - 1; z++) {
                nextBoard[y][z] = currBoard[y][z];
            }
        }
    }

    private static void printBoard(boolean[][] nextBoard) {
//      prints out the program, • being a living cell, a space being a dead cell        
        for (int a = 1; a <= ROW; a++) {
            for (int b = 1; b <= COL; b++) {
                if (nextBoard[a][b]){
                    System.out.print("•");
                } else {
                    System.out.print(" ");
                }
            }
            System.out.println("");
        }
//      shows when the day ends and begins
        System.out.println("------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------");
    }
}
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