I was watching a video from Gary Vaynerchuk on this topic recently, and he got my full attention.
So many people live like they do not realize that eventually, they are going to die. They treat each day as a struggle, as a burden, and as an expectation that they will always be alive, and their time is unlimited. They give away their youth for a potentially secure retirement. It really made me wonder why we do this to ourselves.
After a long, evening walk along the Western Canal here in Tempe, Arizona, it hit me.
It might be because we’ve never known what it was like to not be alive.We’ve always been alive- as far as we remember- so we tend to take things for granted that we get used to. Whether it’s a spouse, a career, a burrito at the local Mexican joint, or even our most precious resource- our life.
How can you explain muddling through a job you hate? How else do you explain not writing that book that you have thought about for years. When you are not longer alive, do you still think there will be time to write that book? How about spending time with your kids? Are you going to be able to do that dream cross country trip with your family, or that Paris trip that your daughter has always talked about, when you are no longer alive? If not, what are you waiting for?
Vaynerchuk said that we should all go to a nursing home and talk to the people there. The people who are 90 or 95 and it’s just about over. Talk to them about their lives, and what they did- or didn’t accomplish. And when you hear someone that knows that they no longer have the strength or energy, and that time has run out, you can see it in their eyes.
Regret for not taking that chance. Regret for not spending more time with their kids. Regret for not starting that business that they always talked about, or not standing up to that bully of a boss, or not spending more time on their art that lit them up when they were alive.
But now it’s over.
In Bronnie Ware’s book called the Top Five Regrets Of The Dying, she learned that the number one regret of the dying was that they wish they’d had the courage to live a life true to themselves, not the life others expected of them.
So I’ll ask you again. Do you realize that you really are going to die someday? Now you can look at this in fear. Or, you can view it as a gift. Because knowing that our time here is limited is what makes the excitement of life worth living. Because if people take their lives for granted when they know it will end, just imagine how much less they would value it if they actually knew it wouldn’t ever end.
We have been given a gift. And with that gift comes the obligation to live life to the fullest, so that if you are fortunate enough to get to the age where you can look back, you can look back with smiles, appreciation and gratitude for a life well lived.