There are many times in life when we feel alive, we’re grateful for what we have, feel good, and even dare to dream bigger.
The rest of the time we prefer to take everything for granted, be unhappy with what we have and focus on what’s missing instead, complain about stuff, and basically wish things could be different and that we were more like someone else.
That brings disappointment, suffering, deep regret and depression into our days.
But that’s not the biggest problem.
After being on this planet for some time we come to a point where we realize that this will end some day.
We don’t know when or how. But there’s no if. We know it will happen.
And because of the other bad mental habits we’ve already developed – like being negative, not enjoying the moment, worrying about what might happen, not thinking long term, choosing instant gratification every time and then hating ourselves even more, losing hope, not knowing why we do what we do, not having a direction, and so on – this too becomes one of them.
And from this moment on there’s a new addition to our daily existence – the thought of dying.
And we start some of the following:
• thinking about death;
• analyzing it;
• imagining different scenarios of how our last day will look like;
• fearing this day;
• letting it prevent us from living the present moment;
• questioning happiness and the meaning of life;
• thinking it’s all unfair;
• losing point in doing anything big;
• referring to important things as meaningless.
…or the slightly better version:
• we want to leave a legacy;
• we fear there won’t be a mark left after us;
• we feel depressed about the possibility of a world in which we never existed;
• we turn our life into a quest to leave something behind;
• we’re anxious about not having enough time left;
And we start dying every day until it actually happens. And when it does, it’s a relief that saves us.
When did we get to that fatal end?
The big picture always does sound quite serious. But, in fact, it was something that our negativity, fear of uncertainty and decision to hold onto attachments and never let go caused things to go that way.
Have you ever thought about the fact that we’re the only beings that have the ability to imagine their own non-existence?
Then why do we keep doing it when we know it’s ruining our days and preventing us from feeling even remotely happy?
Maybe because we’ve turned the idea of death into another thing that gives us comfort.
We get attached to it, make it bigger every day by focusing our energy on it, and eventually it becomes more powerful than us and takes control.
Here’s what Mark Manson says in this post describing a thought-provoking book about death:
“Humans were given the gift of being able to imagine the future and who we want to be, but the price we pay for this gift is the realization that we will one day die.
This knowledge of our own inevitable death leads to a kind of ever-present “terror” that underlies everything we do. Becker argues that this terror inspires us all to take on what he calls a “hero project,” where we attempt to immortalize ourselves through our deeds and actions, to create something bigger than ourselves that will live beyond our own lives.
It’s when people’s hero projects contradict one another that we get conflict, violence, bigotry, and evil. It’s when hero projects fail that we fall into deep despair and depression because we’re once again confronted with the inevitability of our own death and meaninglessness of our lives.
“Man cannot endure his own littleness unless he can translate it into meaningfulness on the largest possible level.”
“The irony of man’s condition is that the deepest need is to be free of the anxiety of death and annihilation; but it is life itself which awakens it, and so we must shrink from being fully alive.”
So for those of you who didn’t find it too hard to read that and leave the blog, here’s what we need to do about all that.
Life is beautiful. And although pain and misery are inseparable parts of it, it has its own unique way of giving them to us in small doses and letting us choose what to focus on, how to deal with it and whether or not to let the thought of death make us lose our ability to enjoy life, or just the contrary – to become more active, enthusiased and curious, and to make each minute count.
Yes, humans are the only species that can think about what it would be when they are gone.
But we are also the only ones who can learn to let go.
To let go of attachment, of needing others in order to feel complete, of fake needs and desires, of expectations, ideals, comparison, judgment, fear of failure, worries, regrets, etc.
It’s a skill that can be practiced. And – in time – it becomes a habit.
Letting go is the magical process of freeing ourselves from the burden of the past and the worries for the future, of letting out all negative feelings and fears.
And instead, letting in emotional and spiritual freedom, pure joy and contentment, and peace.
And with peace comes happiness.
Not the one that depends on external sources – like objects, people, goals, plans, achievements, etc. But the happiness that’s within.
That’s been there all along. And just needed to be uncovered.
And by letting go of all these, we become okay with all that is. With who we are, what we’ve done and how things turn out.
And we can enjoy, appreciate and take action upon our future.
And with all that, the fear of death goes away. It vanishes, slowly making room for the desire to enjoy this moment that’s given to us.
And while still keeping in mind that it’s fleeting, we grab it, we fall in love with it, and spend it the best way possible.