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Bill Bergeman


10 Lessons Death Can Teach Us

There is nothing that presses us into action better than a looming deadline, and the ultimate deadline for all of us is our impending doom. Like it or not, it's going to happen.

Does what we do in our lives matter? In the large scheme, probably not. I remember @JamesAltucher asking the question, "What century did Joan of Arc live?", or something like that, and most people couldn't answer the question (I couldn't either). And she was one of the most critical actors in European history.

Similarly, as an avid U.S. history buff, I like to ask people to name five U.S. Presidents - the most well-known people in the world when they are in office - from the 19th century. Most people get stuck after Abraham Lincoln.

All of this is to say that in terms of the course of human history, if what a U.S. President can be forgetten, then what we do does not matter much either.

However, everything we do DOES matters to US. No one else will care, but one person will - you.

So, what will your impending death teach you about your life? What will you do before you die that matters to you?

    1. There is almost nothing in this world with which to be afraid.

    Other than life and health-threatening events and activities, there is nothing to fear. The former fears are primal and rational, whereas everything else (about 98%) is irrational.

    Mostly, we're afriad to do things because of how we think others will judge us. One of Bronnie Ware's "Five Regrets of the Dying" is: "I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. " So, do it now!

    2. If you want to do it, and you have a chance to do it now, you have to do it. The opportunity may never return.

    You might think you can take that dream job another time, join friends on a trip to the mountains next year, or start that business when you think you'll have more time, but likely the opportunity will not come as you expect it. If you're waiting for the perfect time, you'll be waiting a long while. Ask yourself if you would do the thing if you knew you were going to die tomorrow.

    3. If you hate doing something, ask yourself why you're doing it.

    If you're doing it for a long-term gain that you know will benefit you or someone you love, that's one thing. But if you don't know why you're living day by day in drudgery, it might be time to pause and reflect.

    4. We have limited time with our loved ones. Say "I love you" as much as you can to them.

    Another one of Bronnie Ware's "Five Regrets of the Dying" is: "I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings."

    5. Lean more into action and less into planning.

    Planning is critical to ensure the proper tasks are taken to achieve an objective, but most of us (myself included) can get caught up in planning for planning's sake and struggle to get out of that comfort zone and actually start something. We need to have more of a bias toward action. A boat is built to sail the ocean; not to stay anchored in the harbor.

    6. If you have an opportunity for a "hell yeah!" experience, say yes.

    Hat tip to https://sive.rs/n.

    7. If it's not a "hell yeah" experience, say no.

    Again, courtesy of https://sive.rs/n.

    8. Do hard, trudging work now, as long as it leads to long-term rewards that you highly value.

    This one harkens to #3 above. Ask yourself if your rare and precious life is worth wasting doing something you hate lest you have a rock-solid reason. Again referencing the "Five Regrets of the Dying," one of them is: "I wish I hadn’t worked so hard."

    9. Stop taking things so seriously.

    Again, life is short. Nothing you are worked up about now will eventually matter at all to anyone, whether that's tomorrow, next week, or in five years. It just won't matter. So relax and enjoy life.

    10. Leave a legacy.

    While virtually nothing you do in life will matter in the long term, you can leave something of positive, lasting value behind. Write a book that changes someone's life. Have children that pass on positive, respectful values to the world. Solve a problem for someone. There are so many things we can give that will last beyond our short and precious lives.

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