We’ve all heard the expression, ‘Live Today like it’s your last’ and it’s probably the most common phrase we hear or say but we really don’t know what it means. Living every day like your last is actually a great way to live if we actually knew how. Does it mean you drop whatever you hate doing, like work, and binge on earth’s most exotic destinations or binge on your favorite food or activity, like jumping off a plane? Usually, the ideas about living your last day on earth aren’t very practical to actually do every day, especially when most of us have a life expectancy of at least 70 years of age. So, I’d like to share some practical principles (five to be exact) on how to actually live every day like it’s your last. I’ll give an example at the end that will hopefully demonstrate clearly all 5 principles.
1. Be Happy Now
Often, happiness is confused as fulfilling one’s desires, so the idea of always being happy, particularly if it’s suppose to be the last day you live, is almost impossible (there’s just too many desires out there). Being happy now is not a matter of achieving or changing things around you so your desires are accomplished. An easier way to be happy now, and constantly, is to always check yourself if you’re feeling anything but happy, like feeling anxious, angry, or empty. Anytime you notice that you’re not feeling happy – take that moment to check what is not aligning internally.
The basis for this is that happiness comes from within, and if the emotion coming up is anything but happiness, then it’s a point of learning something about yourself, realigning and growing. Some lessons many of us can learn to bring about our happiness in every moment are lessons in humility, tolerance, compassion, and a big lesson is of loving oneself. So being happy now is not about fulfilling your desires, but about realigning yourself, learning and growing, and ultimately, getting to the core of who you truly are, which is a being of constant happiness even in the midst of obstacles.
2. No regrets
If today was your last day on earth, it would be very nice if you can live it without any regrets and that means not looking at the past. If you followed along with me on point #1, then being able to live today with no regrets means you’re able apply the lessons you’ve learned and live happily in the present. If you’re constantly looking at the past, then there’s something you haven’t been able to let go of.
One way to let go of the past and transform your feelings that keep you tied to the past is to be able to say, ‘Thank you, good-bye, I’m moving on’. ‘Thank you’ because you’re grateful, even for the hardest lessons learned when they’re not the most obvious at first. ‘Good bye’ because you’re able cut away the subtle attachments you had and grow as a person. ‘I’m moving on’ because you’re living in the moment and looking forward to the future with faith and hope.
3. No waste
By waste I mean waste thoughts and/or waste feelings. If you’re stuck in the past, if you have regrets, and if you’re unhappy, you bet you’re wasting away your time, worse if it’s supposed to be the last day you live. If it’s your last day on earth, you better be benefitting yourself at the very least, and ideally, benefitting others as well. Why else would you care if you were dying or not? If death intimidates you at all, then wasting away your time, thoughts, and words are not an option. Valuing yourself and the limited time you’re given means always checking whether you’ve accumulated any waste. This is also a remarkably Eco-friendly way to live by- being mindful of one’s waste on a physical level as well.
4. Leave a positive mark
This fourth principle now takes into account one’s surroundings. After all, if you were to drop dead tomorrow, even if you were the biggest loner, you can bet that you would affect your surroundings one way or another. So yes, this means that even in death we somehow connect to others. With that said, if you’re living your last day, the best way to affect those around you even after death is to positively affect others. Leaving a negative effect is not the ideal way to go, but can you leave a neutral effect? Not really. Think about it, do you really want to live your last day being negative or neutral?? It’s neither poetic nor heroic, in other words, it’s a sad way to go.
Live today like it’s your last and leave a positively, memorable effect on those around you. It’s a natural, subconscious hope for us to aspire leaving some sort of legacy, whether it’s through our children or work, but what if those aren’t an option? The most practical legacies we can leave behind is through those we encounter. Treat every person, especially those closest to you who can get under your skin at times, like it’s your last day. Living your last day by being an example of happiness and inspiration is the best legacy you can leave behind – believe me, no one will be giving a eulogy on the amount of inheritance you set aside or how big your house is or what car you drove.
5. Faith in heaven
This last point ties all the first four points together. Faith in heaven means that we acknowledge that it doesn’t all end with us and that death isn’t the end all be all of one’s existence. Death is mysterious and generally feared of, likely because we don’t want to think that it all ends there. But if there was faith in heaven, then this implies that all our current actions and how we define ourselves carry over into an unknown territory of what would be nice to think of as paradise. Having faith in heaven means that we believe it’s worth the effort to bring it forth right now, not that we should dictate our actions based on a fear of going to hell. Every day is an opportunity to bring about heaven right here, right now. If we want heaven so much, then maybe we’re living at a time when it’s already hell, and bringing about heaven is all up to each and everyone of us.
Lastly, an example: Let’s say it’s your last day to live but no one else knows it and someone close to you insults you, how do you respond? The best way to respond is in silence. Only in silence can you check what’s going on inside: ‘insults’ are usually words coming from another person whom you can’t understand at the moment but all you feel is hurt or anger. To transform those feelings, have the consciousness that my happiness comes from within and does not depend on anything external. If you still can’t shake those feelings then work needs to be done on learning what that moment is teaching you and how you can benefit (point #1). By doing so, you’ll set yourself up for not having regrets or waste (points #2, 3). On the other hand, if you react and engage with the person, whom at the moment seems to be senseless, then you’re moving along with their own lack of sense, which is regrettably very wasteful. Also, only in silence can you cultivate a deep understanding for the other person where you can have good wishes for them, and when the moment passes, you would have all the inner strength to communicate clearly and lovingly (point #4). Lastly, only in silence can we learn to wield superpowers like humility, tolerance, and compassion, hence, bringing forth heaven (point #5). After all, paradise needs no words, so let’s start with silence!
In case you’re wondering if I actually practice any of this, yes I most certainly do! Of course, I’m not perfect, but definitely, responding in silence, especially to loved ones who can be the MOST insulting has been a tremendous tool I learned to keep relationships smooth. With that said, I’m also not the most compassionate, humble or loving person out there, but I do try. Personally, regular meditation has helped so much in finding inner strength to apply all this.