Steve Jobs once said: “Live each day as if it was your last.”
I remember reading this quote for the very first time. Even though it felt very inspiring and powerful, I could never fully understand what he was really trying to say.
Today I am in a state of mind where I see what “the last day of life” means. Every day is the last day of your life. How?
We are all unable to know if we are going to be alive next minute or even next second. A lot of people argue asking, “Does it mean we will die next instant?” or “Does it mean we must fear death all the time?”
The answer is simple: we don’t know if we will die next moment but there is no guarantee if we will live. It definitely does not mean we have the only future, which is full of fear. There is absolutely nothing to fear.
Life was given to you without you making a choice to enter this World; it can be also taken without your choice. The only decision you make is how to live between the entry gate called birth and the exit gate called death. But there is an interesting catch: nobody knows how much time there is between the entry and the exit. This unknown causes life and all the fun and fear we experience living it.
Let’s pretend for a second that we are aware of how many years or days we are going to live. The matter of fact, that’s how we live every day.
To help you understand what I mean, l will use my conversation with my friend Tim as an ultimate example of life.
Tim is 32 years old and he works as a Project Manager in San Francisco based software company. Tim is married and has a beautiful, sweet and very loving daughter Alya. I asked Tim a few questions. Here is a part of my conversation with him:
Me: Tim, do you know how long are you going to live?
Tim: No, I don’t. No one knows.
Me: What if you knew the exact duration of your life? Have you ever thought about that?
Tim: No, I’ve never thought about that. But it would be very interesting to know.
Me: When was the last time you were unhappy with your wife about something? If you tell me, I’m able to tell you how long you will live.
Tim: There is no way you can tell me that, but I will answer your question. Last week when I shared with my wife my plans to quit my job and start working on my product idea, we had a long argument. She thinks I don’t care about my family’s financial stability. I only want to make myself happy even if my family will be in trouble with my decision.
Me: What happens to you if you don’t quit and what happens if you do quit?
Tim: If I don’t quit, I think I am wasting my life doing something small and insignificant. If I quit… (Tim, went silent for a few minutes)
Me: What happened, Tim?
Tim: I am thinking what would happen if I quit.
Me: You have just told me you had a long argument on this topic with your wife last week? You have never thought what would happen if you quit?
Tim: Hmm, I think I have never really thought about it. I was always focused on what happens if I don’t quit. But I can tell you that I am not very happy now. If I work on my idea and my product, I can make my life much better than what it is today. I can be happy again.
Me: (I smiled) Tim, I can now tell you, how long you are going to live.
Tim: Ha-ha! Tell me.
Me: Tim, today is your last day. That is all you are going to live. What will you do now? Will you quit?
Tim: If today were in fact the last day of my life, quitting or not quitting would not be what I would think about. I’d like to be with my wife and my daughter. I would care for them as much as I could and tell them how much I loved them.
Me: The choice you are making is not to quit and stay with your current job. The choice you are making is what you want to do with this moment of your life: live it with love or live it with fear. Most of us choose to live with fear. Look at what you were saying 5 minutes ago: you wanted to be happier in the future. You had an argument with your wife, because you feared you would not be happy if you quit your job.
Let’s focus on the same moment of today being the last day of your life. Now all you want is give more love to your wife and daughter. You are not fearful of the future anymore. It is so because the reality of the future stopped existing for you. You decided to live this only moment you have now with love and complete happiness.
In fact we all have the same challenge and we all have the same choice to make every day. Look through the decisions you have recently made. If you filter them through the thought of today being the last day of your life, see how those decisions change. If everything stays the same, you can congratulate yourself because you chose love and happiness. If something changes, find out what that fearful thought was that influenced you in the first place. Try not to let that fear make all the decisions for you.
Remember: “Life is a movie: you watch, you act and you direct.”