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Let's talk about death

“It is death, and only death, that gives each moment beauty and horror. Only through death is time a living thing.”

About a month ago my brother’s childhood friend passed away after a long struggle with Lyme disease and cancer. He was 43 years old. Whenever I hear of a life cut short, I am reminded of how important it is to live fully every day.

Many of us don’t like to think about or talk about death. However, as stated in the quote at the beginning of this post, it is only through death that time is a living thing. Without death, moments would not have as much meaning. If time was infinite, we could not fully appreciate all that is beautiful. Days and experiences would not be as important if they were in endless supply.

I attended a roundtable discussion yesterday regarding Positive Psychology. Among the many lessons from the discussion, one of the most impactful for me was this video that breaks down the average American life in jellybeans (one bean for each day of life). The video uses jellybeans to show how many days on average each person will spend doing things like working, sleeping, eating and preparing food, and other typical activities. After removing all of those beans, the narrator asks what would you do with the remaining days, and what if you only had half of those days, and so on. He asks “how much time have you already spent worrying instead of doing something that you love?” The final questions are “What if you had just one more day? What are you going to do today?”

It was my own brush with death in 2009 that opened my eyes to the fact that I wasn’t living an inspired life and that I had some changes to make. My heart attack was a blessing in disguise by reminding me that every moment is precious. I became more intentional with how I spent my time and energy, and am grateful for my major health scare, as it has impacted the choices that I make.

The deaths of my grandmother and 18-year old godson in 2015 were powerful reminders that you never know when your time on Earth is up – you may have 85 years, or maybe only 18, and none of us know what that number will be for us. Rather than living in fear of death, make every moment count so that when the time comes for you, you can look back on your years and say with certainty that you spent them well.

While talking about death may be difficult, death is a reminder that time is limited and that what we choose to do with that time is the most important decision we can make. With this in mind, ask yourself – is there anything that you have put off doing until later; and what if later never comes? Live each day with purpose and intention. Prioritize happiness, love and joy; and always remember that time is a living thing.

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