Using the concept of mortality as a purely intellectual tool in achieving personal growth is something that is rare to be found in many books out there. It is a concept that pushes personal growth far above expectations and, truth be told, dramatically changes the game.
Outlining that we are all going to die, gradually makes us aware of the importance of things, or moreover the lack of it. Being naked in front of this realization we start perceiving things rather differently. The fear of failure, things that bug us on daily basis, people we interact with, problems we give too much attention to, they all fade away in front of this concept of mortality should we decide to embrace it.
You can make decisions easily
Reminiscing in retrospect, you will come to realize that a bigger part of our lives is spent on doing things we are not quite fond of. This applies to choosing the people we interact with, choosing our job, deciding to settle for something besides the apparent dream we have that dictates otherwise.
And looking back, you will notice that nine out of ten times we submissively comply. We decide things based on fear from the unknown, by relying on certainty and conformity more than anything else. We decide as to avoid or minimize the chance of failure, escape the embarrassment.
And here is where the intellectual concept of mortality dramatically helps. Understanding that we may lose everything, we start worrying more about the things that matter. We don’t settle for whatever, in short.
The fear is minimized
We all fear failure, embarrassment, regret. However, the fear of death washes away such trivial fears. It reminds us of the fact that our time is limited, and we shouldn’t waste it by being afraid.
Realizing and embracing the concept of mortality makes us all aware that we should live our live driven by our intrinsic need for happiness, not settling for whatever comes down the road. Fear makes us “play safe” in many of an occasion. Washing it away we are actually opening ourselves for the things we are most passionate about, not making compromises even a bit.
What if “sometimes” never comes?
When we think about our life in the future tense, all sorts of things are possible. Spending time with family and friends? Sure, there are plenty of tomorrows for that. Right?
The same goes for getting back into shape, starting that DIY project for the kids, going on a romantic date with your wife. But what if “sometimes” never comes? Things might happen, whether to you, or someone that you love, and all of the sudden there is no opportunity to materialize your neglected dreams.
I was hit with this realization a while ago. One year out of shape, I was giving myself a tap on the shoulder, with a reassurance that “one day” I’ll be back on track. But then another year went by, and all of the sudden my goal was starting to evaporate – the more I delayed the process, the more it became forgotten.
So I decided to act in the present – the “here and now” is all that we have! I’ve opened my old library of workout videos on Beachbody on Demand, chose an easier entry to the world of fitness, and started to sweat. And all sorts of wonderful things happened! Soon enough, I was back into shape, wrote a huge Beachbody on Demand review and dedicated myself to growing a readership that is passionate about fitness. Several reviews later, and was writing huge articles on topics like How to lose 10 pounds in seven days, an engaging community formed and we started to communicate – and it was this communication that led us to create our own fitness platform.
But all of this happened because I replaced “one day” with “this day”.
How to apply the concept of mortality in personal growth
Realizing what is not worth our attention
Some time ago I stumbled across an article with an interesting idea. It was written by Srinivas Rao, personal improvement blogger and entrepreneur and overall a nice guy. The article was about realizing which are the things that are not really important but we stress over them nonetheless. It was presented in an interesting fashion, titled “7 things that won’t be mentioned in your eulogy”.
And here is the thing; reading about it, all of the sudden we are getting a picture of how unimportant some things really are. Realizing that we pay too much attention to trivial matters, we understand which are the things worth pursuing.
Asking ourselves a simple question
Steve Jobs followed a simple concept of embracing mortality and by doing so developed a new level of personal growth. Every morning, right after getting up he would go to the mirror, look up and ask himself one simple question.
“If today were the last day of my life, would I wanna do what I’m about to do today?”
And whenever the answer was no for too many days in a row, he knew he needed to change something.
As simple as that. Ask yourself whether what you are about to do or what you are currently doing is worth the attention when put on the counter against the thought of this being your last day. If you find yourself answering negatively most of the time, then what’s the point? It means you are facing the wrong direction and you need to change course.
Embracing the concept of mortality as an intellectual tool in your pursuit for personal growth will make you aware of all the things that are just there for the purpose of creating an unnecessary clutter.
It will most definitely open your eyes for the things that matter and the things worth spending your time for. As a result of that your life will gradually transform in the sense of always being dedicated to what you love and what you are passionate about, thus being happy about it. You will also start appreciating those things more; develop an even more sincere relationship with the people that you care about.
So ask yourself, if tomorrow is your last day on Earth would you be doing what you usually do and pursue the same things like any other day? Think about it.