Professor's House

If You Had a Year to Live

What if today, right now – you found out that you only had one year left to live? If you had a year to live, would you continue doing the same things that you are doing right now, or would you make some pretty massive changes to your life? Would you be worried about what the neighbors thought, or about the clothes you wear? Would you spend your time mindlessly watching television, or glued to Facebook trying to figure out what the rest of the world is doing? Would you be wasting time trying to think of the best tweets possible, playing video games all day, being angry about your job, worried about the bills and stressed that life is not going exactly as you want it to? Would you complain, bitch, and whine when you had to wait in a line at a restaurant, or when something that is rather easy in life didn’t go your way?

The sad news is that most people don’t get a warning that their time will be up soon. And when they do, they are normally too ill or the time left is too short to make many amendments to their lives. They found out too late, and then suddenly they are forced to reprioritize and rearrange their life so that it somehow makes sense and fits the purpose of life, which is to be happy. It seems rather silly that while most of us are caught up in the rat race, we are in actuality working against the clock of our lives, knowing somewhere deep inside that we are closer to the end than the beginning.

So many people talk about ‘when their time comes,’ or ‘the future’ or ‘what will happen when the kids are grown and out of the house,’ only to realize that they are spending more time planning for a future (that they might not even have) rather than living in the moments. People shouldn’t have to wait until they can ‘afford’ something to be happy. You shouldn’t be spending your present waiting for what the future will bring. Sadly, the future is not something that is guaranteed.

It can be rather frightening to live as if you were dying. You might start taking risks. You might finally book that Alaskan cruise that you have always wanted to go on. You might kiss your spouse more, spend more time with your children, find the silver lining in all the clouds of life, and start enjoying the simple things. Suddenly, the sun waking up every single morning seems like more of a gift than a routine occurrence. The accumulation of full moons viewed is worth more than your coin collection and the days that before often ebbed and flowed without rhyme and reason will find a lot of both. Chances are once you got over the sheer shock of realizing you only had one more round of seasons to experience, one more Christmas, one more family vacation to go on – you would spend more time truly enjoying your life and the people in it.

There is such a thing as the power of mortality. Even though you are aware that as a human being, your time on this planet is limited – too many of us feel invincible. So as you think about your own mortality, you will be faced with a lot of questions. If you were to make a list of all the things that you wanted to do before you died, what would be on that list? Go ahead and write it down. Write down 25 things you want to do or accomplish before you die. Once you have a list together, revisit it and ask yourself why you aren’t doing any of these things now? Is it money? The perception that you don’t have time? The thought that you don’t deserve to be happy – or that your life is designed right now to serve others? Or is it simply because you are afraid to try and extend yourself so that you can experience the things in life that you truly want.

Back in 2007, Reuters reported on man that found out he had a year to live, and decided to do all the things that would make him happy. He sold his possessions, lost his home because he stopped paying the mortgage, gave away the things that he had become so attached to and started spending all of his time and money on the things that were important to him. Unfortunately, for this fellow – the doctors were wrong and at the end of the year when he was still living and breathing, they reviewed his medical diagnosis and realized that they were wrong. Interestingly enough – this man didn’t want to change a thing. He had realized through his brush with mortality, that living authentically and following his own dreams and desires was much more fulfilling than being part of the rat race. Through his ordeal, he learned how to put himself first, and to rearrange his priorities and goals so that they matched what was in his heart.

It shouldn’t come down to this. It should take a close friend dying unexpectedly, or a family member passing away without realizing any of their own dreams to make you live your most fulfilling life possible. Especially since most of the time, you don’t get the chance to do things differently. And your Facebook status updates, usually aren’t important enough to be included on a headstone.

Bottom line is this. Spend some time thinking about your own expiration date. Take a few moments to think about what you would do differently if you knew you only had a year left to live. Then, turn your thoughts into action. If you have a list of 25 things that you want to do or accomplish before you die – then spring into action! Start realizing today just how important your life is, and taking flight to live without regret! After all, you have much more to gain than you do to lose!

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