Maxalonestage

Contemplate Death

Disclaimer: This document is in raw form as I process and distill 4 years-worth of my personal development notes. Expect some typos and cryptic language for now. I will be updating frequently and polishing up.

Prescription: Contemplate death.

What is Contemplate Death?

Why is it Important?

Having a sense that you life is short will give you direction and drive. If you take it for granted, as a logical fact, then your life will be aimless.

Fear of death is natural and you will face it many times in your life. You will inevitably fear regretting how you lived your life, and aging, and the loneliness of death. Better to prepare yourself, so you can die at peace. If you could live out your life so that you die happy on your deathbed, without any regrets, would you?

 Contemplate Death: Key Points

It’s one thing to know that you are going to die logically. You already know this. But consider right now how close you are to death. You can die in 5 minutes by just closing your nose and mouth. The world could be destroyed by a meteor impact or a nuclear war tomorrow. Or you can die in a car accident or get diagnosed with terminal cancer. When you die, in effect, all your experiences, memories, friends, family, and achievements die with you. In a sense, the universe will end with your death. There will be nothing more and you will never get another chance. You won’t even know you are dead. Just blackness and void.

When you take a moment to soak this in, you realize that you need to get your priorities straight and stop slacking off. Start living a virtuous life. Live your life with integrity. Define the morals by which you will live. Not someone else’s morals, but your own morals:

  • Don’t do harm to others
  • Don’t do thing thoughtlessly
  • Don’t be moved by pain or pleasure
  • Don’t fear death
  • Don’t concern yourself with the thoughts of others
  • Don’t lie
  • Don’t be lazy

Accept that your life is short. You will be dead very soon, and so will everyone you know and everyone they know. That means that what they think of you isn’t too important. What matters is what you think about your own life before you die.

There is no inherent meaningfulness to life. You exist for a split cosmological second, and then you don’t. What you did or thought really didn’t matter. Stop looking for meaning out in the external world via fame, recognition, love, money, success, or friends. You can have those things, but be honest with yourself: these things will not give you lasting peace. There really is no meaning out there. And the closest thing to it is the pride of living your life virtuously, with integrity.

Even though life is very short, death is not to be feared. Death is natural. Death is not bad. Death is not evil.

  • “Death should not be feared because in the final analysis it is an operation of nature no different than any other.” 1 — Marcus Aurelius

When you look at the fact that you will be dead soon, consider what isn’t important:

  • Any sort of fame you’ve developed
  • The amount of money in your bank account
  • Any petty arguments or debates you’re having with colleagues, friends, or family
  • Any sort of social status or external “success” you’ve built up
  • How much knowledge you’ve accumulated

When you look at the fact that you will be dead soon, consider what isn’t important:

  • How did you feel throughout your life?
  • Did you experience the richness of life?
  • Did you live your personal best? Did you give your all?
  • Did you contribute something meaningful to the world?
  • Did you appreciate and understand a piece of the world?

When you look at the fact that you will be dead soon, consider what isn’t important:

  • Did I live?
  • Did I love?
  • Did I matter?

The point is to live such a meaningful, exciting life that you have no regrets and your fear of death melts away. Does the fear really melt away? Not entirely, but it’s a lot better than living a small life and fearing death because you know you lived way short of your full potential.

What are you going to regret the most on your deathbed? You don’t regret the things you did, you regret the things you didn’t do. What in life do you want to experience?

Contemplate about your death every few months. Think about how soon you will die and how final death is. This is not morose, it is very healthy. It clears out the pettiness in your life and grounds you. It reminds you be your best self. It reminds you to appreciate experience for its own sake.

  • “A warrior thinks of his death when things become unclear. The idea of death is the only thing that tempers our spirit.” 3

References

  1. Meditations, Marcus Aurelius
  2. High Performance Academy, Brendon Burchard
  3. The Wheel of Time, Carlos Castaneda
  4. Leo Gura

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