Recently I have been captivated by the idea that I could die tomorrow. I came across this potent thought while listening to an audio rendition of Senecas letters, which are described as a practical, philosophical guide to living. In his writings, he discusses the idea of death, and that we should meditate on our deaths. By thinking about our deaths, we can reduce our fear and anxiety about death, and the future. Seneca juxtaposes his meditation of death with the possibility that death can strike at any moment for a myriad of reasons unknown to us.
As someone who has dealt with a formidable amount of anxiety throughout the last few years, I found meditating on my death liberating. My anxieties have primarily been derived from worrying about the future: I worry about financial success, dating, my health, and the health of some close family and friends. However, after reading, listening to, and embracing the idea that death could be immanent, I shifted my perspective. Instead of intensely worrying about future mistakes and problems, I am attempting to concern myself with things that I would find worthy of doing or pursuing if I was to die the next day. I am doing more things I want to try, such as writing this blog, and working on my podcast(Taylor Radio).
Another byproduct of meditating on death has been to enjoy the activities I engage in, because tomorrow I could lose my ability to do them. I could lose my ability to walk, see, or worse. This mindset shift has compelled me to talk with women in settings I was too cautious about previously, such as the gym. Before I approach someone I’m interested in and I get that nervous feeling, the thought of my certain yet unpredictable death buries the fear of rejection. This has drastically improved my mood, and I have made additional friends in the process.
While, meditating on death has pushed me to engage with my present more, I still believe it’s important to plan and prepare for the future, I am just worrying about it less. The future is opaque, us humans are incapable of knowing what lies ahead, or if anything does, so we can’t spend time and energy agonizing over future possibilities. Instead we should take care of business, and prepare for possible problems. For example, if you are nervous about the stock market, then take action to protect yourself, make a play, or stop thinking about. If you are nervous about losing a job make sure you have back-up savings, a resume that is ready-to-go, or another income stream. However, walking in and out of your job every day stressing about the possibility of losing your job is not going to effect the outcome of keeping or losing the job. The last point is critical, because worrying does not impact outcome, only action does. So if you’re worried about a potential problem, then do what is in your power today to prepare, but that is all that can be done.