You will die. How to use death to live better
Sum-up: you will die. This is certain. Accept your life has a time limit to live it fully.
“Krishna was once asked what was the most miraculous thing in all creation, and he replied, “That a man should wake each morning and believe deep in his heart that he will live forever, even though he knows that he is doomed.”
― Christopher Pike, Phantom
I will die. You will die. This is maybe the only certainty in life. And it is a great thing.
That might sound weird. Death is something we fear, we try to not think about and avoid as much as possible. I had a rather extravagant strategy in dealing with death. I said technological progress is so quick now that it is almost certain that a way to prolong life significantly will be discovered during my own lifetime. Then, during my extended lifetime, science will lead to effective immortality. This rather convoluted thinking served a very simple purpose: I could pretend death is not a factor. Many people probably pretend the same thing one way or another.
This seems like a harmless denial. However, it is very harmful. When you pretend there is no death, you start being lax and self-indulgent: I will not take this risk now, I will do it at one point in the future. I will not make the extra effort, I can do it some other time. I will not take advantage of this opportunity/ pursue this experience, I can do it in the future. That is bullshit.
If you do not take advantage of an opportunity now, most likely it will not appear in the future. I you do not pursue something now, most likely you will never do it.
Time is our most valuable resource. And it is finite.
We owe it to ourselves to use it to the fullest. To experience, to form relationships with people, to do things, to live as fully as possible.
When I realized this, I had to accept death. Like everything else, this is a habit which has to be cultivated. We get into routines of behaviour which lead to routines of thought. These must be changed step by step, by constantly deciding to behave differently. I actually went and got an app called a Death Clock. This sits on the smartphone and counts down the time to your death. It was a great reminder of how limited time there is.
Go online and do a test that estimates when you will die. It does not matter how accurate you think it is, none can be accurate, it’s about thinking about it. Then convert the number of year left to weeks. Then convert it to days. Write the number down. Keep it on a small post-it which you carry around or put it on the homescreen of the smartphone. At night before going to sleep, subtract 1 from this number. Next time you are hesitating whether to do something, think about this number and that another day will pass.
One reasonable death estimation website: go to quiz
Extra points: print the number of days as dots on a big sheet of paper. Hang it on a door or wall at home. Cross a dot at the end of each day.
When you accept death, it is liberating. It means you can risk and try things outside your comfort zone. It means you can live with much less anxiety. It means you can stop worrying and enjoy your very short life.
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