A couple nights ago, I was watching one of my favorite TV series called Community. The show is silly, hysterical and always makes me laugh. Every now and then, the show also tosses in some “life lessons” to give it some heart. One particular quote that made me shiver was…
Death is what makes life worth living.
It’s true. Death gives life a deadline. It gives us a rough timeframe to accomplish whatever it is we want to accomplish. Death makes us want to do things. It makes us want to enjoy life because we know it will end eventually. If you are given a pill that makes you immortal, what would be the point of doing anything anymore?
Who cares if you stay in the house for a full year playing video games. Who cares if you work a job you hate for the next 5 years instead of focusing on improving your life. Who cares if you find someone who makes you happy or go on that dream trip you always wanted to go on.
You have forever to do it! Your never going to die or age so you can put if off for eternity and continue to be lazy.
But that’s not how it works. And that’s a good thing.
We’re here for a fixed amount of time. Some of us will reach the age of 100. Others might reach 50 and some may not make it to adulthood. Some are living but seem as though they are already dead.
That’s the other part of the equation. We don’t know how long we have. Our health is one of those things that helps keep us kickin’ but there are a ton of external forces that can take us down. And although this may sound scary at first, it’s really what makes life so valuable. Knowing that our “clock” is ticking, we need to act. We need to cherish the time we have.
We need to create our happiness now, not later.
We need to experience all that life has to offer. Excitement. Adventure. Love. Accomplishment. Taste. Smell. Vision. Nature.
We need to experience it now and not hold off for some unforeseen time in the future.
Rather than be afraid of death or simply ignore it, why not use it as motivation to get the most out of our short time on Earth.
Pick a number.
The average life expectancy in Canada is around 80. It varies from male to female and from country to country. It also changes with technology and health improvements.
But to keep things simple, we can say that exceeding 80 years of age is a really good benchmark.
So lets pick the number 80.
Even if we are healthy and escape all the external forces, we can expect to be gone or diminished in some way by the time we reach 80. With that in mind, what do you want to look back on when you blow out 80 bright-colored candles on your birthday cake? What makes you smile and realize you really lived a purposeful life and the life that YOU really wanted?
- Becoming great in your career and rising to the top of a big company? Maybe.
- Finding someone who makes you happy and having beautiful children with them? Maybe.
- Using your own creativity and skills to create something? Maybe.
- Starting a business that helps others in some way…
- Traveling across the world to experience all the beauties of earth…
- Learning and living with different cultures all over the planet…
- Lending a hand, knowledge, or money to others who are less fortunate than yourself?
- All the above? Some of the above? None of the above?
Whatever it is, you need to figure it out NOW! Start developing an action plan that brings you closer to your goals and to your dreams.
Sure, these dreams and goals will change, as will your plans. Some things will stay, others will be replaced. That’s okay. That’s life and it means your changing, which also means your growing and really living.
The worst thing you can do is simply put them off and live in default mode for another day, another month, or another year.
Stop following the path that others have created and create your own. You may feel alone at first but trust me, there are tons of people ready to help and support you. To find ideas, you could always Steal Like an Artist. Find what inspires you, take from it what you need, and mould it into something unique for yourself.
A Friend of mine, Mike Hrostoski, put it this way:
Sometimes people tell me I’m overly optimistic. Sometimes people tell me I should be more realistic. Sometimes people tell me I’m a Pollyanna. Sometimes people tell me that I’m forgetting that the glass is also half empty. Really? Here’s some life experiences I likely have waiting ahead:
- My dad’s going to die.
- At some point, my brother or I will become an only child again.
- I’ll become an old man. I’ll be flabby, wrinkly, slow-moving, and my dick won’t work.
- The woman who I choose to spend my life with will either leave me or die. Or I’ll leave her a widow.
- My kids will get sick. My kids will get hurt. And I’ll feel totally helpless.
- I’ll get hurt dozens of times. I’ll cry hundreds of times. I’ll fail thousands of times. And then I’ll die.
Trust me, I have plenty of suffering ahead. I’m not interesting in looking for, focusing on, or creating any more.
Rainbows and unicorns for life baby.
Another guy you may have heard of put it this way:
“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. Almost everything – 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.“ – Steve Jobs
You really have nothing to lose. The clock is ticking.
It’s time to LIVE.
lovely..,, really grateful for this article…
I completely disagree.
If this were true, then an immortal being’s life would be worthless.
Anyway, I find death makes life not worth living. It’s a cheat. Once I found out about death, already as a child, I regretted being brought into existence.
But there is no immortal being – only in the movies. Knowing that life ends doesn’t make you want to live it to the fullesT?
No, mortality makes me want to give up, and erase my life. Only my obligations to others, and the possibility that I am wrong (that is, maybe we are actually immortal), keep me going.
Otherwise, I’m with Silenus: Better to have never been born.
Interesting. But why “never be born”, if you can enjoy life as it is. When futurists talk about the chance that people may live to be 200 or 300, or maybe immortal in some way, they all say the same thing: that life will be significantly worse because these people will have extreme anxiety and won’t want to do anything. After all, do you want to take a risk sky-diving, if you can live “forever” by doing nothing? After all, we’ll never be truly immortal.
Read the book scythe and look at the perspectives in it
I looked for it, but which one is it?
I to wish i had never been born because death makes life not worth living it ..at least for me. my wife wanted our kids because she enjoys life.she sais she wants me to be happy but her bringing children into this world has caused me to never feel happiness anymore..she new i did not want children..having them makes me sad and disgusted with myself .I feel woman having children is the most selfish thing they can do.they are forcing life onto someone who may not like it much, as is in my case..i have sex because orgasms feel good that is all,i never wanted my life ruined by kids..i feel whoever created life should have made orgasms hurt terribly that way the only people to have kids would be totally dedicated to reproduction, not just accidentally get pregnant like my mom did with me..
Hey Eric, thanks for writing. In all honesty, I really feel like you should seek some professional help. I don’t mean that in any bad way… it just sounds like you would benefit from talking to someone with deep knowledge in this field and can provide some ways for you to move forward. It’s awful that you were “forced” into having kids. Anyone who doesn’t want kids shouldn’t have them. For me, I’m the opposite. I can’t imagine not having kids and giving life and loving them and assisting them with enjoying their life. But many people don’t want that and thus, shouldn’t have them. It sounds like you’re bothered by your own birth. I think many of us are “accidents” but that doesn’t mean we’re not wanted. Things just happen sometimes. I don’t think I was planned, and yet, my parents have been the most loving people in the world. I do feel for you, and I really do think it would be best for you to seek out some professional advice and help. I am just a blogger and although I love to inspire people, I do not have the professional expertise to assist in issues like what you talk about. Please do find help though. Despite being in this position now, I think there’s always a way to find a love for life and to find more fulfillment and joy. I truly wish you the best, Eric.
Val wafai says
Life is ultimately meaningless
“Death is what makes life worth living.”
I see this as the exact opposite; death makes life not worth living.
Why is that? Everything comes and goes and it’s quite the miracle that you are here. If we developed a pill that made us live forever (people are trying), it would actually make life worse because people would be far more anxious then they are now. If you have 1000 years vs 100 years, why bother doing something? You have all the time in the world. On the other hand, if age can’t kill you, why leave the house. You may die in some sort of accident. It’s an inevitable part of life for all living things, so might as well use it to your advantage and take joy in all the small things that happen day in and day out, and the sheer miracle that you made it here. 🙂
Thank you for the reply.
My view on this is that death negates everything of my life in this world. All I do , all I love, everyone and everything I care about will be gone, forgotten, obliterated. That leads me to a sense of futility. I still want to act out of compassion and reduce the suffering of those here, but really, I sense it would be better to never have been born, and maybe the universe would be better overall with no life in it at all. In my case, it feels like no miracle to be alive, but a burden and curse, a punishment perhaps. And I know that my life is fortunate compared to many which are far worse.
As for whether we would do nothing given 1000 years vs 100 years, I don’t see that either. If there are compelling reasons to act now (e.g. wanting to right injustices in the world, reduce suffering of creatures, etc.), that motivation exists no matter how long I live. Even a 1000 years is only a tiny fraction of the time required to do all that I would want to do in this world: help every suffering creature, read every book worth reading, think every possible thought, evolve to higher and higher levels, etc. The length of my life is not a reason to procrastinate attending to the urgent matters of the world, such as the suffering of animals and obliteration of the natural world.
Interesting thoughts. There was another person who felt the opposite with death (as in, why live at all), but that typically leans more towards depression, which should be treated. I’ve had many family members fall deep into depression. I guess in this case, perhaps it comes down to allowing yourself to think one of two ways. Positive or negative. You’re already alive, so I think it would be better to think of it as a miracle and as a way to use that life for something good. It’s true that you can in no way solve all the problems, read all the books, do all the things. But you could pick one or two and launch yourself into it with all the passion you can muster. We met a couple in Bolivia who started an animal refuge and now house 800+ animals. The husband has become the “alpha” to more than 150 different monkeys. He can’t leave every because they would go ballistic. It was very inspiring to see though, that they have dedicated their lives to creatures brought out of the jungle for animal trafficking. I do understand though how the injustices of the world can really bring a person down. When I think about it deeply, it depresses me as well. The only thing that lights me up is knowing that it does seem to be getting better overall.
I turned 22 in December and I’m now spiraling thinking about how I have reached full adulthood and its “all down hill from here”. I do have anxiety, and I attribute much of my feelings to that, but it cuts me so deep that I really don’t want to exist. There is no difference in dying then and now, right? I mostly confide in my mother, but she is so mentally stable that she is completely okay with all tenets of life. She believes everything happens for a reason and therefore doesn’t fear death, so she doesn’t understand my fear. But I wonder why I would do anything if it ultimatley doesnt matter. It makes me want to hurry up and have kids because caring for the people and the animals I love is the only thing that makes me feel like I need to go on, if only to help them be happy. But then I worry about not experiencing youth and regretting it. I don’t know. . . I’m rambling, I’m just afraid.
Only 22!? Wow, I’m 34 and I still feel like I have ages left. Technically, life is getting shorter but I love being able to look back on everything I’ve done, even it’s as simple as travel. You may want to talk to a professional therapist on this matter, as they are equipped with better ways to assist. I am, after all, just a writer. I believe partially in “things happen for a reason” only because a good 50% of life is luck-based. However, 50% is based on the individual in my opinion. If you believe too much in “luck”, then you might drift into doing “nothing” so it’s good to have a balance. Maybe think of life as a miracle. The sheer fact that you made it here, to this day, is fascinating. Biologically speaking, of all the sperm, only you made it. This had to happen to every generation before you to make that happen. Now you’re 22 and breathing. Perhaps I’m being philosophical but if you really think about it, it is quite a miracle. So, with that, I feel like I need to make the most of it. Obviously, some days and some years are harder than others, but on the same token, it’s the hard years that make the good years good. We can’t have happiness without sadness. It’s the contrast that makes it work. Maybe try to think of the “nothing matters” in a different way. Perhaps use that thought to liberate yourself. You should still strive to be better and to think better and to know more things and to try things so that you enhance your life. But maybe don’t take it so seriously? Just enjoy the process. No, I’m rambling haha. IMO, I would never rush into having kids. That’s also a big life step and I would think it would be good to take care of yourself first and get yourself in the right frame of mind. And then take the step and help them grow and be happy. You may like the book Curious? by Todd Kashdan, or stumbling on happiness by Daniel Gilbert. Again, I am just a writer. A guy who likes to experience life as much as I can and try to inspire others to find more enjoyment in theirs. I am not a professional therapist or doctor or phycologist. There are a lot of great books out there, and podcasts, and blog posts. Do stay away from the negative ones though. There will always be negative people, but these days, it’s much easier to find positive ones if you look. I got rid of toxic friends in my life a long time ago. Life is too short to surround myself with people who bring others down. Good luck!
Life sucks, and then you die.
If it wasn’t for my kids (because I know they will never get another father like me) I would end it now.
Death for me holds no fear, but only the thought of release.
And Yes I am a depression sufferer. And I am on medication. And no – Life still holds very little joy for me.
ahh man, sorry to hear about the depression. While I can certainly suffer from it time to time, especially if I turn on the news, I am for the most part an optimist. I wish I could have even longer to explore both the world and myself. I’m glad your kids give you meaning. I look forward to having my own one day. Besides your kids, do your or have you ever had a passionate hobby or job?