I’ve often heard the advice to live life as if today was your last day. I’ve never liked this advice and recently when I heard it, I realized just how much this advice could lead to poor decisions.
When I was younger my philosophy on life was quite different. I drank and partied a bit much so if I were told I would die the next day I would probably choose to live that day partying and having fun. I would ignore any consequences to my actions and give in to any temptations that surface.
Now that I am a bit older and have a wife and family, my perspective would be different. Now I would probably spend the day going through all of my finances, plans for my family etc. to make sure I left them in the best position possible.
The fact that these different perspectives produce such drastic differences is part of the reason why I hate this advice. Most of us aren’t going to die tomorrow. Yes there is always the possibility, but there is also the possibility that we live for another 50 years.
Therefore, choosing to live life as if there are no consequences and give in to every urge is horrible. But so is planning so much that we don’t find peace and happiness in our day.
A better way for me has always been to be present. Living in the present moment is something that is difficult to master. Most of us are constantly thinking about the past or dreaming about the future. But neither of those exists in the moment and can easily lead to unhappiness.
But if we can start to live in the present we can start to feel our lives in a different way. We start to let go of worry about the future or regret over the past and simply enjoy each moment. That moment could be joyous, painful, or anything else but we simply experience the moment in a way where we acknowledge the feeling but relax into a calmness of spirit.
If this is new to you, there are tons of resources that address living in the moment. One resource I recommend is called The Present (written by Spencer Johnson). The book tells a story and is very easy to read but has a very powerful message about turning off the incessant part of our minds and relaxing into the moment to find beauty and peace.
Another fascinating book is Set Yourself Free by Reon Schutte. Reon was a prisonor of war and tortured while in prison. Despite the daily beatings he started to change his thoughts and was able to find peace and calmness in his mind by living in the present. His book outlines how he made the mental shift and how we all have the power to do the same.
The goal is to start eliminating the negative thoughts and subsequent feelings from worrying too much about the future or fretting the past. If we can start to live in the moment we can have a much clearer head that can help us determine what to do.
Living as if you are going to die tomorrow can have you cashing out your retirement savings and head to Vegas. Or it can have you paralyzed by the thoughts of what that means.
Instead of striving to live as if you are dying, start to live in the present moment. Learn to calm down the past and future thoughts and focus in on the present. Doing so can give you a much better perspective and can help you live a more full and happy life.