“I intend to live forever. So far, so good.”
One of my favorite books is Chasing Daylight by Eugene O’Kelly. He was the CEO of a Fortune 100 company. He was wealthy. He had a penthouse in New York, vacation homes, a yacht and lots of money in his retirement account. He had power. He had influence. He knew lots of rich and famous people. He had a lovely wife and wonderful children.
But at age 54, he was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer and given about 100 days to live. He decided to make his last 100 days the best 100 days of his life. What did he do with that time? What would you do?
Right now there are forty days left in the year 2011. In forty-one days, the year will be over. Hopefully, you’ll still be alive, but the year will be gone forever. It will be history. Memory. You’ll be able to reflect on what you did with your time this past year. But you won’t be able to change what you did.
However, you can do that now!
If you consciously took up the challenge to make the last forty days of this year the best forty days of this year, you could do it. You would probably use your time differently. Your choices wouldn’t be the same compared to just remaining on autopilot for the next 1,000 hours.
There are three things you can do with the next forty days that would impact on your ability to make them the best days of the year.
First, there is the choice of what you do. Do you spend more time reading the newspaper or less? Do you spend more time on Facebook, or less? Do you spend more time taking walks with your loved ones, making love, feeding the birds, listening to Bach and writing haiku poetry . . . or less? So you can choose what you are going to do and not do. That will have some influence on your experience during these next forty days.
The other thing that will have a dramatic influence on the last forty days of the year is your presence.
If you can be present in everything you do, you will experience your life differently. You may be sending 100 Christmas cards, but can you write “this” card as if it was the only card you are writing? Can you avoid multitasking and just focus on one thing at a time? Can you be with whomever you are with – your spouse, your child, your friend, your colleague at work – as if this is the last time you will ever see them? If you want to give a wonderful gift to others this holiday season, give them your presence.
The third thing you can do to make these next forty days exceptional is to continuously reflect on how you are cared for and supported by others. Who’s part of your support team at this very moment? The furnace (heat)? A chair? Your eyeglasses? Warm socks? Electricity? A hot cup of coffee? Sunlight? Music? A computer? Can you stay aware of what you’re receiving even when you’re rushed? When you’re overwhelmed? When you’re depressed or upset? If you can, you will have a very different forty days. (See Naikan for more information on this kind of reflection.)
So what will you do with these remaining days? And how will you do it?
Is your life worth the price of a few minutes to ponder these questions?
Are you willing to go beyond figuring this out in your head and actually do something different?
Well, then, congratulations! A real adventure awaits you.Tags: Attention Mindfulness Purpose Taking Action
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I am towards the end of reading your very well-written, insightful, thought-provoking, and useful book, Naikan: Gratitude, Grace, and the Japanese Art of Self-Reflection. Thank you so much for writing and sharing this book!
I, too, read Chasing Daylight and found the experience moving and wise. I am trying to make a shift from the habitual way I have lived the last 49 years to what I would consider a more realistic and practical lifestyle, one that is focused on constructive living, on acting in the present moment with awareness and gratitude. Much of my life I have been driven by my emotions and intuition, an approach that has involved great suffering in relationship especially, for me and others. In making the above shift, I hope to become more grounded. Thank you for inviting my comments. Bill