How Contemplating Death Can Help You Live Better
Have you ever stopped to deeply contemplate and consider the fact that one day you will die?
The fact that the flesh and bones in your body will turn into particles of dust, and you will cease to exist on the face of the earth.
It sounds kind of scary doesn’t it?
However, contemplating your death can actually be quite liberating and paradoxically help you live more fully. Here are three reasons why reflecting on your mortality can help you live better.
Value and cherish life more
When we avoid thinking of death, we can easily fall in the trap of taking our life as well as the people in our life for granted. Neither us, nor our loved ones are going to be around forever.
As humans, most often we begin to realise the value of something only when we lose it or face the prospect of losing a thing, whether it’s our life, people, time, possessions etc.
And contemplating on our inevitable death can shift us from our default state of taking things for granted to be more thankful for our life as well as the people in our life.
If we were going to be here around forever, life wouldn’t be so precious. It is the transitory nature of life that makes it so much sweeter.
It will help you separate what's important and what isn’t
Thinking about our death can bring about a tremendous amount of clarity and perspective into our life that’s often lacking when we are busy caught up in our daily routines and responsibilities.
When we are living our lives on autopilot, our priorities often get mixed up and as Stephen Covey once remarked: “Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.”
Identifying what’s important to you can help you strip of needless activities from your life and devote more of your time and energy on what adds value to your life and fulfils you on a deeper level.
Some common themes that arise from palliative care patients as they approach their death are realising the importance of people and experiences over accumulating money and possessions.
However, fortunately, we don’t need to reach the end of our lives to figure out what is truly important to us. It’s something we can realise by contemplating deeply on our death instead of avoiding the thought and acting as if we will live forever.
It can help you live a life with less/no regrets
Steve Jobs, the Co-founder of Apple, considered death as an important tool that helped him make the big choices in life.
Every morning he had the habit of looking himself in the mirror and asking “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”
In his 2005 address to Stanford Graduates, he said,
“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.”
Fear of embarrassment or failure can be severely crippling and prevent us from doing many of things that our hearts nudges us to do. But as Jobs wisely said, these things just fall away in the face of death.
We can live our whole lives ignoring the call of our heart, and chose what’s safe or live up to other people’s expectation of us, but at the end of the day, it will still not help us get out of life alive.
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