“My religion is to live and die without regret.” – Milarepa
Something that scares me more than anything else is dying with regret. I don’t want to look back on my younger years wishing I had done something differently or wishing that I hadn’t hurt this or that person. Regret scares me. And the only way to live and die without regret is to find a way to make your life truly meaningful. When your every action, thought and word has meaning you will find that your death (and indeed your life) will be a very peaceful process.
In this post I am going to give you some ideas about how you can discover the secret to making every minute of your life meaningful.
Is your life meaningful?
Take a second to do a little “meditation” with me. I want you to take your hands off the mouse and just spend two minutes imagining your death. Imagine you are laying on your bed with your family around you. Imagine you have only five or six breaths left before you depart to the next world. How do you feel? Do you have regrets? Are you afraid?
Some people get really angry when I talk about death. They send me emails asking me to stop talking about this terribly taboo subject. I find this attitude really sad because death is the one thing we can be sure of in this world. Nothing else is certain, but our death is. No one in the history of the planet has ever avoided death. Everyone has to go through it. So why, then, is everyone afraid of preparing for it?
Don’t be someone who is afraid of death. Do the meditation and really try to imagine what it is going to be like. How do you feel? If you find you are afraid, anxious or regretful then I can guarantee you aren’t living your life the way you intended. You aren’t making every minute meaningful. By looking at death we can get a great insight into our life.
How to make every minute of your life meaningful
You are probably like me. You want to live and die without regret. So how do we do that? How do we make every minute of our existence count? Here are some ideas.
1. Make your life about others
The most important thing you can ever do is make your life about other people. Our world is so self-centered. We are brought up to believe that we are more important than everyone else and that we need to take care of our own needs and wants before the needs and wants of others. But after a while we realize that we feel kind of empty. That’s when we have the midlife crisis. The crisis occurs because we realize that we have spent our whole lives working to make ourselves happy but we still feel crap.
The great Buddhist master Shantideva said:
“All the suffering in the world comes from wanting happiness for oneself. All the happiness in the world comes from wanting happiness for others.”
It is one of the truest quotes you will ever read. A life spent helping others is a life well spent. And when your time comes to an end there will be no regrets because you have used your time well. You have made a contribution.
2. Don’t procrastinate
A few months ago I wrote an article designed to help you stop procrastinating. I believe that procrastination is one of the worst things a human being can do. If you want to make every minute of your life meaningful you have no time to procrastinate.
Think about the last five years of your life. How fast have they zoomed by? I remember my first day of high school as if it were yesterday and it seems as though I have achieved very little since then. I have spent too much time procrastinating. And this is a cause for regret.
We hear it all the time but we never take it in. Life is short. It will be over in the blink of an eye. And to make matters worse, you have no idea when your life is going to end. You could die of a heart attack in your 80’s or you could die from cancer in a week. You could get hit by a bus. So now ask yourself this: if you knew you had only five years left would you change the way you are living? I bet most of us would.
3. Don’t get angry
Anger, it is said, is the worst of all the negative emotions. The Buddha once remarked that a single moment of anger can destroy 100 years of good deeds. I can see how this can be so. Lots of bad things happen because of anger – violence, rape, wars, etc. And the bad thing about anger is that you always end up regretting it.
Think about the last time you got angry and acted on it. You might have yelled at your partner or a coworker. How did you feel five minutes later? Did you feel vindicated and justified or did you feel heavy and burdened? I am betting it was the latter. Every time I have said or done something in anger I have come to regret it. Life is too short for anger.
Angry people don’t succeed in life. They sabotage their happiness and they end up living very lonely and shallow lives. Take a look at any friend you have that is constantly angry. They are never happy. They are always frowning and they get no joy from life’s simple pleasures. Anger is the worst thing you can do. Don’t become one of those people who finds the worst in every situation. Look for the best.
Life is so short and fleeting. You could die in your sleep tonight. Make sure you live your life in a way that will allow you to pass away with no regrets. Make compassion, love, patience and energy the main pillars of your existence. If you do you will leave behind a wonderful legacy.
So now the question is; are you making every minute of your life meaningful? What is holding you back? Leave a comment and let us know. I would be very interested to see what the main problems are.
Originally posted on May 8, 2009 @ 3:05 am