The way you write during your last few days as a human being with a heartbeat are radically different. I’m not there yet, but I have read some interesting blog posts from people who have been.
The advice is not quite the same as your typical listicle dressed up as a pig with bright red lipstick on its lips.
They are the final lessons. Last words. A meaning for one’s short vacation on Earth. As you read the final words before someone’s death, you’re inspired, not sad. The subject of death is the most motivating one in the self-help genre.
It’s the type of written essay that makes you think about your own life and puts it all into perspective.
I’ve been close to death three times: a near-miss with cancer, being attacked by a gang of twenty youths as a sixteen-year-old boy while watching my friend bleed from multiple knife wounds to the chest, and falling asleep at the wheel of a car going 100kmph down the highway.
If one of those incidents had been the unlucky ending to my life, these would be the final lessons I’d leave behind for the world. They might help you with whatever struggle you’re going through.
Stop worrying about every little thing
Here is a list of stuff you might worry about:
- What car you drive
- Whether you feel physically attractive
- What house you live in
- What your former idiot boss did to you
- The neighbor who never gives you peace and quiet
- The rude learner driver that cut you off
- Your lack of progress in life compared to others
You know what all these worries mean at the end of your life? Absolutely nothing. When you’re days away from taking your last breath or recovering from a baseball bat to the head after being viciously bashed and not knowing why, to within three millimetres of your death, you sure as hell won’t be worrying about all of this ‘small stuff.’
This is a list of first-world problems. The teenager in Africa who is days away from becoming an adult would love the option of choosing a car instead of the fifty-mile walk they make each day to get water. The guy that lost his wife to cancer a month ago would love to have an idiot boss to distract him from the loneliness he feels in his heart.
All those little things you worry about don’t matter in the end.
The four areas to focus on are family, friends, your partner (if you have one) and strangers. The last one might shock you a little.
Why the heck would you unconditionally love strangers? Well, you love them because they’re just like you — they have problems, disappointments and bad hair days. When you love strangers, you walk through the world just a tiny bit happier and that 1.5% change in happiness spreads to those people you encounter. We need more love, not more hate.
Love is what creates your human existence and it’s what will be around during your last days. When you are no longer alive, it’s love that carries the memory of who you are in the minds of those who love you.
Forgive those who wronged you
Chances are it wasn’t deliberate. Someone robbed you or lied to you for a good reason or they made a bad decision. We all make bad decisions because life is full of them.
Bad decisions are how we learn what good decisions look like.
Your bad boss fired you. Send them a text and say thank you.
Your ex-boyfriend/girlfriend cheated on you. At least you got to meet them and feel what heartbreak is like before you left Earth.
Your friend joined your startup and stole $50,000 off you before leaving the country and spending every dollar like they’re a king and you’re an idiot. Forgive them. They got your money and it won’t make them happy.
There’s always more money in the world because we create it out of thin air. The planet didn’t come equipped with barrels of money for us to find like hidden rainforests. Humans created money and it’s not the answer to any of life’s biggest problems.
Enjoy time, pursuits that give you meaning, and relationships with other people, and you’ll have all the wealth you can get without ever needing a single one-dollar bill (adjusted for inflation).
Thank your parents for their sacrifice
Do you ever think about your parents and what they gave up to raise you, and see you turn into an adult? I’ve ignored that sacrifice many times.
Your parents made the most difficult decision of their life to watch you be born. It took everything they had and every ounce of energy to raise you. Tell your parents before its too late, how much you love them and say thank you for all that they have done.
You can’t thank your parents in the after-life.
Experience the world through your eyes not a screen
The times I have learned the most have come from either failures or travel. You can view the world through the filtered lens of Instagram and never see the best bit: the people.
Travel allows you to meet people and experience their culture. You quickly realize that it’s not the places you go but the people you meet, which are the best. Seeing people in all sorts of environments helps bring you closer to humanity. It takes you from saying, “look at them” to “look at us.”
Admire the people that gave selflessly
Many people in your life give you gifts along the way and never ask for anything in return. They don’t explain it to you and you don’t know why. Even towards the end, appreciate those people. Hold them up as your heroes.
A hero is not a person that had a unicorn exit with their startup or bought a Ferrari for a million-dollars; a hero is a person that skipped all the material distractions and went straight to giving something away that they knew someone else needed.
What these selfless people give away is advice, introductions to awesome people, and small favors behind closed doors that they never tell you they did on your behalf.
It’s not the people who take in life that are remembered after they are gone; it’s the people who give for no reason at all and make a career out of it.
We are creatures of habit. We dislike change, whether we admit that or not.
Learn to love changes because that’s where the patterns your mind follows over and over are disrupted and replaced. A change can lead to new experiences, new love interests, amazing friendships, fun hobbies and paths you could never pre-plan yourself.
Through change, we discover who we are and our potential to be more than we previously were.
Choose work you enjoy, not slave labor
Much of your life is spent working. Despite your financial obligations, you do not need to work a job you hate. It’s amazing how creative and resourceful you can be when you have to.
A business is nothing more than a group of people. Choose a tribe of people who make you feel good when you come to work and inspire you to be more than you can be.
Quit the businesses who have forgotten about people in search of profits.
Don’t hold back emotion
For years I sheltered my emotions. It wasn’t seen as the manly thing to do. You don’t go on a platform like LinkedIn full of peeps in suits and talk about your feelings. That’s the ultimate sin even if you’re an atheist.
I made this critical mistake. A mentor told me to stop and I didn’t.
Holding back your emotions is holding back your potential.
People feel you and hear you when you express emotion. Emotion is what connects us and makes us understand the strangest ideas, like death, when words can’t explain it.
It’s okay to cry.
It’s okay *not* to be always winning.
It’s okay to miss someone.
It’s okay to say how you feel on social media.
To live without emotion is to live without a soul. Communicate through emotion and you’ll feel a difference.