Death: The Greatest Inspiration To Live

Befriend This Notion To Finally Start Living The Life You Want

Hey everyone,

This week, I return to the usual theme of intentional living.

The exact topic of this issue might be a bit tough to swallow, but it’s definitely worth it.

Please share your thoughts on this week’s issue in the comment section below.

This week’s piece is a 5 min read.

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🧠 This week’s favorite thought 🧠

“You only live twice;

Once when you’re born,
And once when you look death in the face.”

Matsuo Basho

Imagine that you are dead tomorrow.

Scary, right?

Of course, it scares the shit out of you that today would be your last day alive.

Even if you are religious and believe in the afterlife, you don’t want to die soon.

As Steve Jobs said: “No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there.”

The notion of your death is frightening for two main reasons:

  1. you think that there are so many things you still haven’t done in life

  2. you don’t want to leave your loved ones.

These two join in one single feeling: regret.

As the well-known quote says: “People on their deathbed don’t regret the things they did but the things they didn’t do.”

If you think about dying tomorrow, the one question you should ask is:

“If I was dead tomorrow, would I be happy the way I lived my life?”

Memento Mori - The Mirror of Your Life

As you read this article, think about the day you are spending now.

Are you satisfied with the way you spend it? Do you enjoy your everyday life, the mornings, and the working hours?

If you are overall satisfied with your everyday life, then you are among the minority of people who feel the same way.

But if you feel a general dissatisfaction, this contemplation should act as a catalyst to start changing the life aspects that drive this feeling in you.

Imagine that you are on your deathbed, and you remember how much time you wasted on shit:

  • scrolling endlessly on your phone through social media and news that smelled like a big dump

  • spending time with people whose company you didn’t enjoy

  • spending time in boring, energy-draining and useless meetings throughout your career

  • doing things out of pure ego because you cared too much about what others think of you

We spend most of our time in a rush in our civilized and urban environment.

Rushing to work in the morning, rushing through back-to-back meetings, perhaps rushing to do a workout, and finally spending some time alone or with friends and loved ones.

We rush while driving around just to reach our destination 2 minutes earlier.

We rush from one bus to another to get through our commute to the office before the 9 am meeting starts.

Then we rush into the weekend to finally have time for ourselves and for experiences that give us some joy and energy, but those two days pass by so fast that we suddenly realize it’s Monday morning again.

We live in a rush that eventually makes us run toward our death faster.

Meditating on our death is a tough thing to do.

Meditating on the death of our loved ones is even more brutal and painful.

Many can’t even do it.

I know people who get furious and outraged when mentioning that they and their loved ones will die sooner or later.

Their anger mostly comes from the fact that they did not befriend this notion.

The only notion that all humankind shares and will get to. Maybe tomorrow, maybe 50 years from now.

We can keep living our life by ignoring the idea of death, but one day, it will come as a shock.

A loved one will die. And besides the general grief, regret will erupt from us like a volcano.

We will regret not spending enough time with them.

We will regret focusing too much on our work or other things that eventually don’t matter.

But you know what? Once they are dead, there’s no going back.

How To Use The Notion of Death As The Inspiration To Change

When I was 18, I came across Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement speech from 2005.

His 15-minute speech gave me goosebumps and a drive that led me to make an important decision not to pursue a university degree that I didn’t profoundly want.

Since then, from time to time, I have come back to his speech to rewatch it.

For me, the following is the most powerful part of it:

“Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.

Almost everything--all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure--these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Steve Jobs

Honestly, even after ten years, it still gives me the same goosebumps.

Because no matter what you think of Jobs, his words are powerful and strongly applicable to all of us.

The sooner you start befriending the notion of death, the sooner you can start living a life that is true to yourself.

So how should we move toward a more intentional life?

First, accept that change won’t happen overnight.

You cannot ditch your unhealthy habits or change your stressful career within a day.

But the realization is the first step.

Making small steps is the second.

So if you get anxious about realizing what life aspects you don’t enjoy, just take a deep breath and calm down.

“Though the physicality of death destroys us, the idea of death may save us.”

Irvin D. Yalom

Jot down all the things you wish to change in your life so you can live more intentionally. Examples:

  • Spending more time with your love

  • Creating new experiences

  • Trying that new hobby you’ve been postponing for a while

  • Taking that scary step toward one of your goals

  • Getting your ass up and start getting fit

  • Starting to move from a career you hate to finally do fulfilling work

Choose a priority item from the list you create that you will focus on changing step-by-step.

And then take action.


Is that easy? Is that your advice?

Yes, because if the idea of your death and the scarce time alive doesn’t motivate you enough to live how you want, I don’t know what will.

But no, because this meditation is not an overnight action. Getting clarity about the intentional life we desire takes way more time.

The most crucial thing is to realize and accept your immortality and keep it always in your mind.

Therefore, it remains with you an inspiration to take ownership of your life that will eventually lead to less regret and more contentment in your alive days.

Watching The Sunrise In Athens (Photo by my friend)

For me, this photo always reminds me what it feels like to truly live. (Photo: me)

Simply put: remembering that you will be dead one day will help you to realize how, where and with whom you want to spend your time.

And while the realization will be one small step on the journey, creating your true life will take more small steps and, thus, one giant leap.

No matter how old you are, there’s still time to make this change.

So stop whining about death and start living the way you deeply want.

Máté - The Mindful Guerilla

💡 My Weekly Recommendations 💡

🔥 Stuff I Recommend You This Week 🔥

📹 Video: A few years ago, Yes Theory made a video where they pushed a stranger to experiment with how they would want to spend their last 24 hours alive. Inspiring, entertaining and well-related to this week’s issue.

🗞️ Article: Sinem has a great article that presents 11 strange questions that might change how you live. Also greatly related to my topic, so check it out and answer those questions yourself.

🐥 Tweet: Balance, the famous meditation app, posted an “April Productivity Bingo” with 25 fun activities you should do this month for yourself. How many of these would you want to tick?

👓 Newsletters I Read Every Week 👓

🪷 Overthoughts by Akta: Lately, Akta’s newsletter has been my go-to weekly source of notions on how to feel less overwhelmed in the world of constant noise, social pressures, and overthinking. The perfect complement to my newsletter.

💵 Young Money: Jack writes inspirational & insightful posts on finance, career, and life. I learned a lot from his work, which motivated me to start my newsletter.

🌍 International Intrigue: The best source to get quick & quality updates on recent global affairs. A 5-minute read delivered every weekday. Read this, rather than all those shitty clickbait articles on mainstream media.

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