10 Ways Death Can Make Your Life Better (Okay, 12)

Tue, Apr 15, 2014

The world is your oyster.

Success is reserved for those who really want it.

Do it. Grab the brass ring. Win, baby just win.

Oh, the places you will go, the things you will do…

And then you die.

It’s true. Last time I checked the rate of death is holding steady at 100%. So, while I can’t be sure how you’ll live, I am certain that you and I will die.

Ah, but what a negative thought that is…Right?

I’m convinced many people believe that contemplating the impermanence of life is pessimistic. As if an eternal life would be a more positive focus.

Actually, this is the opposite of the truth.

Turn away from death and you’ll spend your entire life running from it. For it is death which defines life by being it’s opposite. If not for an end, life would be without limits and value.

As life brings death, all good things do pass. Jobs, school, marriages and even football games; like life, all end.

I’m not suggesting that you hasten your imminent death but that you do as many of the spiritually evolved have for centuries and gaze directly at the reality, fearlessly and get the hell over it.

You can’t control death but you sure as hell can have a say in how you live. And step one for living a more fully engaged, awake life is to accept the impermanence of it all, with your eyes and heart wide open.

Stop acting like you’ve got forever and start acting like this moment matters. Gaze through the lens of your impending end, back upon your life, and consider what really matters—the stuff of legacy.

It Feels Like Dieing

Fortunately, I’ve not died yet but I have had my share of grief—which at it’s depth can leave one wishing for any end. Grief seems to blow the ego to smithereens. For me, I don’t care with whom or where the tears come. I’ll ask for support any time of day or night. And I want to accept any and all blame such that I can get the connection lost, back.

Cognitively, I get that grief is a necessary process and it has a lot to do with survival. We don’t like things to end, loss or change.

But the fact is things do end and change is both necessary and good for it awakens us, tossing us reluctantly out of our contracted slumber. By surrendering to the change process we can learn to trust the journey of life. We find that while life is often very challenging, we are ultimately in good hands. And while it may not feel like it at the time, all things are trending for our greater good.

Life is a precious gift. How you became so lucky who’s to say but upon reflection seems any semi-reasonable man should be overflowing with gratitude. And how best to honor this gift of life than to treat it with staggering reverence.

Life is fleeting. It’s too short to waste doing shit you hate. It’s too short to sacrifice your well-being for the illusion of security. It’s too short to live it in an unhealthy way. It’s too short not to live with less than the best strength and energy you can possibly enjoy.

10 Things Death Can Teach Us About Life

1. Life is best taken lightly—a laugh always beats a frown.

Control is the great human fantasy. Life has a huge momentum and the illusion we can control or even alter it is the source of much frustration and wasted time. The one thing we can “control” is our response and laughter is the highest energy vibration next to love. So if ever love is in short supply, laughter will do you well.

2. Nothing is as good or bad as we make it out to be.

Your emotions will most always amplify the situation. Know that in the moment and don’t feed it with more energy and emotion. With the benefit of time and distance, you’ll see the truth is always closer to center.

3. What you believe you see.

Life is the ultimate hologram—it reflects what you most expect to see. Hence, it offers you evidence of your beliefs. So, if you wonder what you beliefs are, consider what you see from the world. Want to change the world? Change your beliefs. That is all.

4. Fit people die too but life is better.

People who fail to recognize their responsibility to self-care and wellness often seem to revel in the death of a fitness icon. As if, “fit people die too,” is a good reason to live an unhealthy, painful, sick life. Fact is, life is short and few get or wish to choose the end. But a healthy, high-energy life of 20 years beats the hell out of 80 years of painful, slow death. Life is a gift and fitness is your daily expression of gratitude.

5. Dreams keep you young.

Goals can drive us, stress us, reward us, and push us. Dreams paint pictures on the canvas of the future that inspire our best selves. When you lose your dreams your future is bleak.

6. Time goes way too fast.

You hear this when you are young and it means nothing. Then in your late 20’s you feel a few years lost and can’t imagine what happened. Then shit gets real and each passing year feels a few months shorter. There is no way to stop it but the stronger your presence, the more fully you live in the present moment, mindfully aware, the longer the seconds will hold for you.

7. Kids are the best hardest thing you’ll ever fail perfectly at.

If you’ve got them, you don’t need anything from me. If you don’t, you don’t want to hear it.

8. Love is all that matters, even if you don’t want to admit it.

Okay, I admit, I get tired of the “love is all there is” crap. Okay, I get it but what about ketchup? There’s ketchup too and well, cars, and food and stuff. But in the moments of presence, of peace, of heartache and intolerable joy, when our hearts are blown wide open the truth of this statement is so blaringly obvious it seems pointless to say it.

9. Most of the shit you do every day is bullshit.

Sorry about the language but some things need to be said for effect. There’ll come a time when something so mindblowingly good, or it’s opposite, happens and your perception of what matters will shift dramatically in an instant and you’ll know this to be true. All this stuff you’ve been doing as if it matters will seems like the most insane waste of time. You may be pissed. But until this moment comes there’s nothing I or anyone can say you convince you of what you must experience to learn. But trust me, it’s mostly all BS.

10. The harder you work, the harder you’ll work.

I love to work hard. I like to do stuff better than anyone and every one else. I like to take on more than I can handle and you know what I have learned? Yep, the more you do, the more you’ll do. The more people will let you do and the less others will do. And really, doing more doesn’t get you more. It takes more time, more energy and leaves you more depleted but the most successful and productive people I know are those who know how to hand stuff to others and do less.

11. Experience trumps money.

Do more. Travel more. Experience life. I’ve had both gobs of money and great experiences and money comes and goes, experience is yours forever. It’s in your soul. It changes you. And plus, no one enjoys a gripping story about counting your stocks but everyone loves a great story of exotic places far away.

12. College is the best years of your life. Don’t miss them.

The point to college is to come through it having survived it reasonably well. I think too many kids take it way to serious and think it’s a life and death thing. For 99% of us, the future is not in getting straight A’s but in getting from one end to the other and while the grades will be forgotten, the experience will not be. With very few exceptions, people look back and realize what an amazing time in life college is and most wish they’d gotten this knowledge sooner, and more clearly. Carpe diem my friends… seize this day.

Facing the End Awakens Us Today

Consider your death, not in a gruesome, traumatic way but as you would any real deadline. Yes, dead-line…. It’s coming. What do you need to do—to be—to be happy with your life when you reach the end?

My hope is that by considering death, you will give your life with the importance it deserves. When the end is nearer the journey holds more meaning. Deadlines are useful tools. They focus us, remind us to be mindful, intentional and committed.

Enjoy this day to your fullest and may you tomorrow be more joy-full.


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- who has written 190 posts on Shawn Phillips | Start Strong Monday.

Author, speaker, sprinter, trainer, fitness guru and Integral philosopher...Shawn Phillips

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6 Responses to “10 Ways Death Can Make Your Life Better (Okay, 12)”

  1. Richard Latimer Says:

    Great post Shawn. It made me think of Jack LaLanne one of the great pioneers of the fitness movement. He lived to his mid 90’s before succumbing to Pneumonia. He stayed active and fit until the end, swimming and workout out daily and selling his juicers on TV in his 90’s. He was a great example of how our life should be like a candle. It should burn brightly, flicker a couple of times and go out. To often in our society life is like a smouldering ember, not giving off much heat and light until it finally goes out and no one notices.

    As the Bhagavad Gita an old Hindu text said
    ” Your most beautiful clothing is the silk of your skin, and your greatest protection is the armor of your muscles.”


  2. L RAE BROWN Says:

    This is some good shit! I mean really good stuff. I usually hate reading most of these “quick how too” articles. But tis was very well written. Thank you!

    – L RAE


  3. Christopher HAWKINS Says:

    The best thing on death ever written … even better than Tibetan book : no BS with the Bardo crap ! I believe , think and feel that life is now … There are no happy endings, just a dead body . That why I practice Stop Waiting . Easier said than done but I know where the truth lies ;-D

    Namaste ect …



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