If today was your last day on earth and you were going to die tonight, how would you live your life?
What kind of decisions would you make?
I’ve recently been putting myself through an experiment and it’s been going pretty well. Every morning when I wake up, I psyche myself into thinking that today is my last day. At the end of it, I could die.
I scare myself a little to help me live a lot throughout the day.
It really does give me a new perspective on everything I see around me. I find myself appreciating anything, even if it’s a cloudy or rainy day, or a bumper-to-bumper drive to work. I am conscious to have peace in all my relationships. I even catch myself thinking about something as basic as my breath, and how being able to take in large deep breaths feels so beautiful, blissful, a blessing.
I’m thinking faster and making decisions that sits best with myself – I’m happy with my personal and professional choices. I feel sharp and present. I can laugh at anything.
This train of thought started some months back. I had a bit of a health scare and during a 4 week waiting period to find out if I was in the clear or not, I began thinking a lot about life and death. (Quite naturally.)
I suddenly felt that if my days were numbered, I wanted to be remembered as I lived. I wanted to make sure the people I love knew I loved them, and I wanted to leave happy memories behind for anyone who was in my presence.
Every morning I would wake up and think about that. “What do I do if I get bad news?”
I thought, “Then I live my best and l leave love in my trail.”
I vowed to never forget this feeling even if I received good news from my doctor.
The four weeks passed and I got my results. I was in the clear. And so I went back to my everyday life. Worries released. Grateful that the ticking time bomb didn’t start it’s countdown.
But I forgot about my vow.
I went back to the daily grind – a full day would pass and the thought of my mortality or appreciating every moment didn’t creep up.
I suddenly caught myself with this slip.
It’s just like when we go for our regular annual medical check up – as we wait for our results, we still get paranoid they will find “something” and we make promises like “Dear God, please let the results come back clear and I promise I will be much better with my health and quit [insert your own bad habit here] and start exercising more.” And then our results come back normal and we go back to being just a little reckless again.
Just when I had this realization, I stumbled upon an article that made me think the universe was talking right to me, reminding me, just as my intuition was, that I need to remember that feeling I had when I was living in fear that my life could be ending in the near future.
A reminder to continue to live in the present, always, no matter what.
The article said that “thinking about death helps you make better decisions in life”.
In the piece, it quoted Steve Jobs who said, “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.”
He said this 9 minutes into his famous Stanford commencement speech, where he discussed the importance he placed on thinking about death during life.
If you haven’t already watched the video, you want to watch it here.
The article also quotes entrepreneur and author of Rebel with a Cause, Sir Ray Avery who says it’s as easy as counting days.
“When you’re born, you’re born with 30,000 days. That’s it. The best strategic planning I can give you is to think about that.”
So if you start thinking about how many days you have left, you’ll start to think about what you’ve achieved and where you want to be and that can make you scary-as-shit clever.
I did the math. If I’m 33 in November 2014, I’ve lived 33 years and 6 months, that’s 402 months, that’s 12,060 days roughly, that’s 17,940 days left.
I’m halfway through my life.
I bucked up immediately. I saw my days as numbered and I felt blessed to have another day to live. 17,940 days was an estimate. I could still get hit by a bus. Get diagnosed with something terminal. Have a heart attack. You never know and I decided I was not going to take it for granted.
I refuse to wait until the last minute to start feeling alive.
The article ended with a great video – Candy Chang’s inspirational 6 minute or so TED Talk about a project that asked people to finish the sentence: “Before I die I want to…”
Watch the video here.
And now I ask you: what do you want to do before you die? How do you want to be remembered? What you do you want to feel in that moment of your last few breaths?
What will it take to never forget these wishes so you can see them through and really live?
For me, it’s the daily reminder that I am going to die. And that could be anytime. Tonight even.
So every night before I go to sleep, I think about how grateful I am to have lived another full day. (And when it comes to my loved ones I think about how grateful I am that they lived another full day.) Then I start my mornings when I wake grateful that I get the chance to live yet another day (hopefully) and I psyche myself all over again to think that I am going to die tonight. I ask myself:
“What kind of decisions am I making today?”
Never before has the thought of death made me feel really truly so alive to live the way I do right now. And I’m loving every moment of it. The right thing to do suddenly seems so clear in any moment.
What about you? Have you tried this or thought of it before too? Share your thoughts on this with us below!