Don’t Forget You Are Alive

Today I was watching a 2005 Stanford commencement speech given by Steve Jobs. He spoke about connecting the dots – how some gut instincts that might not make sense in the present will fit perfectly into place in the future. He talks about needing to find what you love to do. But what really caught me was what he had to say about death:

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool that I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life… Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking that you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

While making my decision, the topic of death did occur to me. I thought of looking back at my life on my deathbed, and my decision seemed plain and simple. Steve Jobs really puts it into words well. Life is too short to be unhappy. What’s interesting about life is that while we may not know what’s RIGHT for us, we definitely know what’s not right, and that serves as a very good guide. Finding yourself is like finding calm water in a storm. When thought of this way, one realizes change does not have to be resisted, but embraced.

“I have looked myself in the mirror every morning and asked myself ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

One of my journals from when I was 18 years old has the following written all over the first page: “Don’t forget you are alive”. Looking at adults, I decided there must be a moment in each person’s life when their youth vanishes. I decided to write this note to remind myself of who I used to be, who I truly was, who I could be – so as not to get lost like so many others. Of course, I burried the journal in a drawer and forgot about it. A few years later, my personal change came. I’m not going to get into the specifics of the event. Let’s just say, if I went back in time before this event and asked myself for advice, it would clearly be to follow my heart. If I went back to during this event, even more so. We fear death, we ignore it, we joke about it… but the fact is Steve Jobs is right when he says that “death is very likely the single best invention of life.” Let it help you make difficult decisions, and let is motivate you.

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One Response to Don’t Forget You Are Alive

  1. […] Jobs uses death to make difficult life decisions.  Jeff Bezos uses regret.  What’s key is both of these […]

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