We say that the hour of death cannot be forecast, but when we say this we imagine that hour as placed in an obscure and distant future. It never occurs to us that it has any connection with the day already begun or that death could arrive this same afternoon, this afternoon which is so certain and which has every hour filled in advance. ~ Marcel Proust
How many of us can honestly say that we are ready to die? To live a full and authentic life—to consciously choose life—you must prepare for death; the preparation to die is inseparable from the preparation to live; and do not delay this preparation because death may come to you much sooner than you think; now is the time to choose life.
The exterior world of money, material wealth and social status are powerful and persistent distractions that place your mind somewhere other than today, where life resides. Almost every message you see or hear suggests that you be somebody else or to be somewhere else other than who and where you are now: To be happy, you need the clothes, the car, the house, the body and the life that the messages communicate.
Unfortunately, most people require an extreme event, such as a natural disaster, the birth of a loved one, the death of a loved one, or their own near-death experience to remove the outer layers of the physical world to arrive at who and what they really are—the authentic Self.
Imagining your death and thinking of what you may have missed or which goals you may not have accomplished is commonly used in meditation techniques, motivational books, on personal development blogs, and in my profession of financial advice. This reflection on life through the lens of death is based upon a method of psychology called existential therapy, which originates from a branch of philosophy called existentialism.
How might I change my plans if I knew I would die in 5 years? If I learned today that I had cancer, would I have the same anxieties and frustrations of everyday life?
By asking and answering questions related to death—by existential reflection—the highest priorities and values you possess will rise to the surface of your mind and will be given clarity; the answers to life questions may be found by asking death questions.
The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time. ~ Mark Twain
If you have not had a near-death experience, do your best to imagine it; and do it often. This a form of meditation. After your brush with death, would you worry about money, career, or traffic? Or might you find that every day is a gift—it is life—an opportunity to be amazed by the little things that you transform into large pleasures, such as the sight of a bird in flight, the sound of a child laughing, the smell of an ocean breeze, or the awareness of air flowing in and out of your lungs?
The more you reflect upon how to prepare for death, the more you reflect upon life; and because of this proximity to death, your fear of it diminishes as the quality and clarity of life increases. Do not fear that you will die; instead fear that you did not live.
About the Author
Kent Thune is the blog author of The Financial Philosopher, where he shares 2500 years of universal truths to help readers find their own path to meaning, purpose and authenticity by removing the physical world covers of money, materiality and social status. You can follow Kent’s musings on Twitter @ThinkersQuill.
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