It’s no secret that people who have near death experiences often survive with a renewed appreciation for life. Now they say life is short. They now appreciate many things most of us take for granted like good health or good friends. But most people are under the impression that they’re almost guaranteed to live to a ripe old age of somewhere between 80-100 years today. And that they should live their lives as though this is the case and as though anything else would be a tragic anomaly and not worth planning for. They understand that everything could stop at any moment and that they’ll disappear forever but never really dig their teeth into that thought well enough to take it seriously.
I think one of the best possible ways to automatically increase your quality of life is to really understand your impermanence as a human being and what it means. When you learn the only true inevitability in life is death, you automatically realise it’s unwise to take anything too seriously.
The main point I have with this article is the idea of planning for the future. I think it was Alan Watts who once said, “making plans for the future is of use only to people who are capable of living completely in the present.” I feel as though society has conditioned us to plan exclusively for the future and this causes us to underappreciate the only true reality which is the present.
It’s important to plan for your future, but it’s also important to realise you could die tomorrow. Therefore an optimal approach to the dilemma of living now or sacrificing now for the future is to do both. Happiness in the present moment should remain the number one priority at all times. This doesn’t mean you should spend all of your money right now and not have any aspirations in life. But what it means is that you should not sacrifice happiness, fulfillment, pleasure, or enjoyment for the next 10 years in order to achieve your dreams. You can certainly work hard every day to achieve your dreams, but this should not result in perpetual misery.
What happens is people get trapped in a loop. They set goals – aspirations for the future. They work tirelessly to achieve them and as soon as they do, they move their goals up a notch so they can achieve even more! Because of this, we never really “get there”. Our true desire is always evolving to be one step ahead of where we currently are. We become unable to achieve a goal and bask in our accomplishment for any extended period of time because we’re always looking to do better. Setting higher goals once you achieve them is perfectly fine but it is certainly not okay if your life turns into an enduring cycle of despondence.
So how can we ensure we’re not stuck living in the future? How can we be fully in touch with the present reality? I think one of the easiest ways is to reconsider the importance of your future. When you realise the fact that nothing really truly matters is actually a good thing instead of a bad thing, that’s when you’re truly able to live in the present moment. You have to come to the realisation that the most any of this can come to is death. I wrote much more about this in another article here.
I truly feel as though the cognizance of this is one of the most enlightening and spiritual experiences anyone can have in life. It really is a shame that some people despise the statement, “nothing really matters”, by interpreting it as me resenting life or the pursuit of success. This is so far from the truth. It’s a very powerful tool you can use at all times in life to remember your impermanence and bring yourself back to the here and now.