Living with awareness of your impending, inevitable death makes you live better

The truth is that we don’t have much time.    

This morning we attended the memorial service of a friend’s mother. She had passed away at a Senior Citizens’ Home where she lived the last few years of her Life. So the inmates at the Home had arranged this service to share their experiences of living with her and knowing her.

It was a dignified event. No one cried. Or delivered flashy eulogies. And despite the searing heat – the venue was non-air-conditioned – the energy in the room among the inmates of the Home was so compassionate; it was simple yet beautiful in a very unique way. One of the administrators of the Home, herself a senior citizen, made a significant point: “Ultimately each of us has to go join the Maker. So, the only prayer we must have is to be able to live well and depart, when our time comes, without suffering.”

I absolutely love this perspective. Even if we can’t really order a perfect – suffering-free and instantaneous – exit for ourselves, I think that we can experience equanimity in each moment when we start living with complete awareness of our impending, inevitable death.

your-time-is-limited-so-dont-waste-it-living-someones-life-steve-jobs-1-728As the Dalai Lama points out, the problem with all of us is that we think we have too much time. So because we don’t see our Life as a limited period, soon-to-expire, offer, we go on postponing living, loving and happiness. We seem to have time for everything else – for fighting, for grieving, for worrying, for working like zombies, for being angry, for feeling jealous, for investing and creating wealth (which we cannot take away with us) and for sitting on our fat egos, but we don’t have time for ourselves, for living fuller and happier lives? Think about it – how much more bizarre can it get?

Even so, I don’t think any of us consciously chooses to squander our lives. Often times a large portion of our Life remains unlived because we think we can be happier and live better when all our problems are solved. It’s a very faulty logic that we employ to kid ourselves. But bringing death into the picture can dramatically alter things for you. Consider this – How would you live your Life if you knew you only have until tomorrow morning to live? What would you do? Who all would you call? And what would you tell the people that you have hated, fought with or remain estranged from? Remember, death is not a distant eventuality. It is right here, around the corner. Living your Life well, your way, in the time you have left here is the best choice you can make for yourself!

 

It is only from feeling lost in Life that you can go figure what makes you come alive

Celebrate being clueless and not knowing where your Life is going!

20160415_164125There may be times in Life when you will begin to question why you made the choices that you made. There may be anger and grief in you for what has happened. And there may even be guilt over what you have done that led to what has happened. As you wallow in self-pity and self-doubt, everything about your Life will appear listless, uninteresting and meaningless. You just begin to hate the Life you have and don’t know where to begin. Or how to snap out of such a state.

Relax. You are perfectly normal if you feel that way about your Life just now. It is only from feeling lost in Life can you find yourself, find focus and learn to appreciate the value of being happy despite your circumstances. I too have been there and felt exactly that way. So whatever I tell you now, I share from personal experience.

We must first understand that Life by itself has no meaning. You came with nothing. And you will go, when your time is up, with nothing. So all this drama of achieving, possessing, losing, reclaiming, all this is just a waste of an entire lifetime, really. But this doesn’t mean that there’s no point in living. Obviously a Higher, Intelligent (that’s certainly more intelligent that everyone around here) Energy has created you and given you the gift of this lifetime. Now if you are spending this lifetime brooding, grieving and feeling miserable, then you are clearly squandering this opportunity, this gift. Recognize that the opportunity to utilize the gift of this lifetime is with you. Nobody but you can live your Life for you. No matter who you are with, you have to act, you have to take charge, you have to get moving to create the Life that you will enjoy living. Simply, you must get down to work to bring meaning to your Life by doing all – and only – that which makes you happy.

Now, it’s quite possible that you are feeling lost in Life because you are where you are because of the choices you have made so far. It is always your past that creates your present. And it is your present that seeds the future. Since no one can undo the past, the only way you can move into the future is by living in the now. When you are clinging to the dead past, you are missing the now. Your brooding over what was is not going to change it for you. As you go along in Life you will discover that no experience is ever a waste – clearly, as Steve Jobs said, you can only connect the dots backward. So, let go of the past but learn from your past choices. Understand which of those choices made you happy. And which are the choices that you would never want to make again?  Then ask yourself what is it that will make you happy? And begin to work in that direction. You must remember here that from where you are you may not be able to immediately transition to where you want to be. But unless you start making choices relating to your happiness, you will not move in the direction of where you want to be. Also know that sometimes the future you want to create for yourself may seem hopelessly distant. Or that you may struggle with getting started on the journey. This is when you must be patient and start learning to live in the now. Trust the process of Life. Things happen in their own time and at their own pace. Your job is to keep working on being happy celebrating and savoring each moment.

Knowing your ikigai helps here. Ikigai in Japanese means reason for being. But, colloquially, it also means what do you wake up for each morning? What gets you excited to get out of bed and going? Find your ikigai. And this takes some time and effort. So, you begin with a long list of things you like doing. And keep doing most of them. Soon you will realize that you love doing somethings more than the others. The list now gets shortened. And soon again you will discover that when doing a thing, or a couple of things, you just feel blissful. That then is your ikigai. Start focusing on it. Do it again, and again, and again. Become a master at your ikigai. When you become world-class and attain mastery at it, you not only are happy doing it, you are also profiting from your happiness because the world likes to pay a premium to engage with masters!

So, stop ruing the fact that you are lost. Instead celebrate being clueless. And get down to working on your Life. An exciting journey awaits you that will help you understand who you really are and what makes you really come alive and be happy.