Thursday, 15 April 2010

How to "Live Each Day as Your Last"

You'll remember from last time that we said the biggest advantages to living each day as your last are:

1. If you live each day as your last, you'll never succumb to petty emotional reactions

2. You'll do nothing carelessly ever again - your actions will be increasingly filled with power

3. And because you're increasingly conscious of the eternal consequences of your choices, you'll stop wasting this precious life and start making spiritual progress

You may have noticed there's a big difference between "remembering your death" and "living each day as if it were your last".  It's easy to remember intellectually that your time in this world is limited.  Everyone of us 6+ billion people is aware of that fact.  But that's a far cry from the power that comes from living each day as your last.

To harvest the benefits of "living each day as your last", you have to commit to training yourself to do just that.  There are no short-cuts here.  This means focusing all your efforts on living deliberately, on disengaging the autopilot of habit and taking full responsibility for even the smallest decision you make. 

Spiritual traditions, like Orthodox Christianity or Tibetan Buddhism teach this principle so that people will avoid self-destructive actions and use their limited time for spiritual advancement.  Martial traditions, like the Samurai, promoted it because this practice gives you greatly heightened situational awareness, and in the Samurai's world, situational awareness was just about the only thing standing between you and your last day. 

The bottom line, though, is this practice is central to developing your resilience.  Back in 1982, a certain British soldier on the remote Falkland Islands watched in horror as a massive  Argentinian force invaded.  As he tells the story, his initial reaction was sheer terror.  Then, for some reason, he experienced a sudden inner shift.  He accepted the fact he was about to die, and from that moment on he was able to take positive action.  Of course, he ended up surviving the war, but having learned a priceless lesson that no classroon could ever teach.

Some lessons in life can't be taught; they can only be learned.  And living each day as your last is just such a lesson.  For more information, go have a look at pages 247-8 of The 5 Pillars of Life.  Great info?  Yes.  However it's nothing more than an interesting read unless you put it into practice. 

So go try it out and have some fun.  Fun??  Yes, fun!  Make a game out of it.  The same way you change your physical diet to see if your stomach feels better, you can change your mental diet to see how adopting a different focus, like "living each day as your last", makes you feel.  At first it'll be hard to stay focused, of course, so don't beat yourself up.  Just have fun with it and see what happens. 

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

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