I look at ideas more as vessels than anything else—vehicles that take us where we need to be taken so as to further our development as individuals.
And one such vessel that came to me the other night was that I really only have one essential goal in life: to die happy.
What more could we ask for, really?
This thought came to me randomly, as do many of the thoughts I’ve had that have been of any use to me. I wasn’t really going out of my way to ponder the nature of existence; in fact, it was a rather mundane night spent watching UFC fights and “Californication“—if my memory serves me.
Anyhow, the idea arose, and it filled me with a kind of zest and simplicity: “To die happy…That’s really all there is to it.”
It’s funny how such a simple notion can have such a profound impact, and this one certainly hit me deep.
We are always so concerned with the most trivial things, I find: How the work day will go perhaps, or whether or not she’ll call us back, the weather. Ugh. I mean, sure, of course these things matter, but they don’t matter all that much in the context of our own death, in relation to the inevitability of our own demise.
There is only one thing that is certain, and that is that nothing lasts. The question that has always concerned me is how to be okay with this quintessential fact of existence, how to accept that all things fade, and I feel as though part of the answer to this question is learning how to live in such a way that will lead to us dying happy—that will guide us toward being fulfilled at the end of our lives.
Try to envision what we would be thinking about on our deathbeds, “What do I regret? What am I happy about? What am I proud of?” and then let’s live our lives in accordance with these thoughts.
Let us live in such a way that would satisfy our future selves. Let us live in such a way that would best serve our dying words.
I try to move through my life with the full understanding of the transitory nature of my own existence. It is presumed that this is a bleak mode of being, a deeply saddening and dejecting way of proceeding through one’s life, but this is far from the case. In acknowledging the fact that this “me,” this intimate sense of self that has been with us since we can remember, will indeed come to an end, it seems as though a subtle emanation of joy and deep sense of lightness comes to take over our beings.
So, we acknowledge the profundity and reality of our own deaths, and from there attempt to move through our lives in a way that will lead us toward facing it with as much dignity, poise, and confidence as possible.
Just imagine that: living in such a manner that makes our own deaths seem like the happy ending to a beautiful story. Isn’t this what we all most deeply crave?
The world would be such a better place if we all lived so as to serve our dying wishes.
I can’t imagine that too many people on their deathbeds regret not making enough money, not going far enough in whatever profession, or not having as much power as they perhaps could have. No. It’s the little things that have meaning, like telling our best friends that we love them, or pursuing our dreams rather than the safe route, or being kinder to our families.
These things have so much more value than money or power, for they strike at the very heart of our beings. They remind us that love is all, that compassion reigns supreme, and that care and affection are the essence of being human.
I try to imagine what my last thoughts would be as I exit this life, and in pursuing those sentiments in my daily life perhaps I will leave this place with a smile on my face. That is the most I could possibly ask for: to die happy. To depart from this beautiful planet knowing that I could not possibly have loved any more.
Author: Samuel Kronen
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Editor: Leah Sugerman