in Life Lessons

How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Deal With Death

“Death smiles at us all, and all a man can do is smile back.” — from the movie, Gladiator

I was shivering and sweating profusely.

The slightest gush of wind felt like a hurricane. My head weighted so heavy my neck was on its last nerves.

“How much longer… till we… reach the hospital..”

This was the sickest I have ever been. Uncontrollable Niagara-fucking-Falls-level diarrhea and vomiting.

My insides were hurting, my head throbbing like shitty stereo between my ears.

Fetus position was my best friend. The smell of antiseptic made it worse when I was in the hospital hall. For what felt like an eternity… I waited till the cows strolled home.

Finally it was my turn and I was put on IV with specific instructions to be placed on the bed closest to the public lavatory. Fucking fantastic.

It was the first time in life where I thought to myself:

“God, if you’re there you can take away my beloved PlayStation 2… You can take away my phone… Everything! Just give me my fucking health back…”

Sure enough, in 8 hours time, I was back to normal. Turns out it was a severe case of food poisoning.

That moment that specific moment was my closest encounter with death and it’s responsible for my current view on life and death (and the two strips of activated charcoal in my room at all times).

Why We Shouldn’t Fear Death

“You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.” — Marcus Aurelius

I have a motto in life and it’s called the 3-D rule:

Don’t be in debt, don’t be a dick and don’t fear death.

Once internalized, you can be fucking invisible.

The thing about death is that it goes hand-in-hand with life.

There’s no reason to fear death other than to view it as a reason for living fully.

As the cliché goes, there’s only one certainty in life and that’s death.

The Stoics have a particularly special view of death and that is death is a natural part of life.

You are born, you live and you die.

It’s part of nature. The same way photosynthesis and fat ugly caterpillars turn into skinny supermodel butterflies — death is part of nature’s process as well.

280 Hours a Month

“The gods envy us. They envy us because we’re mortal, because any moment may be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.” – from the movie, Troy

As Red said in the movie The Shawshank Redemption:

“Get busy living or get busy dying.”

Nobody wants to die yet they are barely living.

Seneca wrote in The Shortness of Life that when you see an old man with grey hair, he could have lived long or he could have merely existed long. Big difference.

When was the last time you felt truly alive? When was the last time you were made truly aware of how you were spending your spare time?

Author Benjamin Hardy wrote a great article on how to achieve your 10-year plan in 6 months.

The skinny of it is we all have 280 hours each month within our control. How are you spending those hours? Where’s the urgency in your life?

What would you do if you only had 6 months left to live? Would you put your goals on hold? In most cases, you cross out all those you deem unnecessary or not true to you. And you will pursue with all your might the goals you actually want to accomplish and that are meaningful to you.

A real-life example of someone who lived his last years to the fullest — the late 25-year-old Tupac Shakur.

Spending Time Like the Wise

Time is all you have.

Whether you choose to spend it to work as much as you can, make as much money as you can, travel the world, experience the world, dress up in nice clothes, or spend time with loved ones — have your priorities in order so you don’t regret anything later on.

For the vast majority of people, spending time with loved ones would be their main concern.

Often times we get caught up on work that we neglect the very reason why and who we are doing this for.

So, how we typically spend our time is:

Time – Work = Loved Ones

We only use whatever time that’s leftover for our loved ones — often times, it can be too little.

Instead, to curb and quash the regret of spending less time with loved ones due to overwork, we can aim for:

Time – Loved Ones = Work

Like Warren Buffett’s rule of spending what’s left after you save, work the rest of time after you’ve spent your pre-allocated time with family.

Own The Day, Own Your Life

Dan Ariely was a third-degree burn victim.

He is the bestselling author of the book Predictably Irrational, where he talks about cognitive biases and behavioral economics.

In one of his talks, he spoke about helping quadriplegics years after his burning incident.

He recalled two clear cases of accident-caused quadriplegics. Both spiraled into depression after the accident — one eventually committed suicide, and the other continued to live to this day.

The difference he said was how one quadriplegic viewed life compared to the other.

The one who committed suicide, saw his life as worthless.

“What’s the point of living if I can’t move my body?” he thought.

The other took a different approach. He knew that if he looked at his life as a whole  it would be unbearable; an endless, meaningless struggle. Instead, he decided to take life one day at a time.

Every morning, he would set small goals for himself. He would have his nurse place his clothes on the floor and have him slither into it with a timer. If he did better than the day before, he was victorious. An ounce of progress made each day better.

Engineer your day, engineer your life.

Ask yourself, what would an ideal day look like for you. What would the perfect morning, afternoon, and evening look like? What activities would you be doing, whereabout and with who?

Feeling dead now because of your struggles and worries are not helpful, to you or anyone else.

And honestly, if you really think about it — most of our fears are not real fears, but just petty worries. How often did they really come to fruition? Time spent worrying without taking action is wasted time.

To look over the next 50+ years of your life and how to attain “success” can be overwhelming. Instead, take it one day at a time and you will feel each waking minute to be so much fun and totally under your control.

Being Mortal = Awesome

“A lot of people didn’t wake up this morning. Be grateful.” – Anonymous

The best and most popular meditation would be the late Steve Job’s Stanford commencement speech.

“Death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life’s change agent,” Jobs said.

For a fresh reminder, watch it in its entirety. Worth the 15 minutes.

“You are already naked,” he says. And I would add, “So streak! (figuratively)”

What Will You Do With Your Life?

It’s very easy for us to think about death as this painful & unimaginable event.

But it’s important to know that death isn’t as much hurtful for the dead as it is to the living. The ones who hurt the most are the ones who are left behind.

While we can do our best to ease their burdens and minimize their regrets, it’s ultimately up to us to start changing our view towards death and have the balls to live life the way we want to.

To have the courage to tell people you love them, even if it’s cheesy. To be honest, even if it hurts. To pursue something, even if you might fail or be judged by others.

All we need to remind ourselves is that death is part of life’s plan.

It’s up for us to see death as a natural process like the Stoics, to spend our 280 hours a month on our terms, to allocate time first for our loved ones, to take life one day at a time, to streak (figuratively) while we are already naked.

Like the wise man once said when a young chap asked him: “What should I do with my life?”

He replied:

“Enjoy it.