Life is full of happiness. Strangers helping each other through tough times, friends sharing fun and memorable moments, people working collectively all over the world to make life better little by little.
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Life is full of sadness. The people you love will suffer and die. Your friends may abandon or forget you. Many things will not happen in your favor. You can lose all your money or damage your reputation. Innocent people will die for malicious causes, be exploited, tortured and starved to death.
Life for humans will always be a fluctuating experience. We cannot always have it one way. We cannot be good without knowing what being bad is. We cannot be generous without knowing what being selfish is.
We cannot fully enjoy life without understanding our inevitable death.
If we believe that we will be here only once, and we will never come back and be able to have all these different experiences no matter how good or bad, I think we would learn to appreciate every day a little bit more.
We live our lives like we can predict when we’ll die. We have an estimated range of our life expectancy, and expect our lives to go fine and dandy until we turn 80 and die a peaceful death. There’s now way you can be certain of that life.
You can be diagnosed with a terminal disease. You can be hit by a speeding car tomorrow. You can be confronted by a serial killer and shot to death. We can have a nuclear fallout with Russia or North Korea next week.
The possibilities are endless, but because it’s not practical to think about how many ways we can face a pointless and absurd death we tend to not think about them at all.
We tend to allow life to just happen to us. Why are we standing by and allowing our most valuable resource to decay everyday? Why aren’t we fighting and struggling everyday to live the life we want to live?
Why do we keep our dream lives as dreams? Why don’t we do something about it? If you were to die tomorrow, what would failure mean to you? You are scared to fail because you think about the lasting consequences.
If you only had 24 hours to live, you wouldn’t ever think about laying on your bed all day eating Doritos, watching mindless content on Youtube or scrolling through Instagram all day.
You’d realize how much time you’d spent on things you never cared about which made you feel good in the present, but would never amount to anything in the future.
I think we’d all wish in those last 24 hours for a little more time to live. A little more to be able to die without regrets. A little more time to reflect on our entire lives and to remember the good and bad times. We’d regret so much of our poor decisions that took away so much important time in our lives.
We’d love a little more time to be able to say goodbye to the people who stayed beside us in our short time here.
We’d love a little more time to finally be able to say the honest truth; things you would never have thought of sharing about yourself without the thought of your impending death.
Things you were scared to say to your friends and family. Things that were on your mind but felt like you couldn’t share because you were scared of admonishment and criticism.
If tomorrow really was your last day, how would you spend it? What would you want to say to the people you care about? What would you want to do with your remaining time here? Every single second of your day would be extremely valuable, and you would be very picky with how you spend it.
Maybe you’d sit down and finally work on that novel you were thinking about writing for the last few months or years. Maybe an autobiography of your life before you go.
Maybe you’d sit down and finally paint that masterpiece you were always dreaming about.
Maybe you’d finally get the courage to do what you love, because you have nothing else to lose.
If you approach every day like its your last, you will be grateful for the next day. You will know that you are lucky to be alive, and have been given another chance to experience all that life has to offer.
You won’t take your time for granted and would only pay attention to the things that are most important to you. You have no time to waste, because your life can end any minute.
Here is an excerpt from Steve Jobs’s 2005 commencement speech that mentions his philosophy of living each day as if it were his last.
When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like, “If you live each day as if it were your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me… and since then, for the past 33 years I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today.”
And whenever the answer has been, “no” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.
Because almost everything: all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure… these things just fall away in the face of death… leaving only what is truly important.
Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked; there is no reason not to follow your heart.
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No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to Heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet, death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It’s life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now, the new is you, but someday not to long from now you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it’s quite true.