Using death to align our desired and actual behaviours (#050)

Small post about how death can be useful to think about in certain situations.

Day events:

  • Woke up feeling absolutely disoriented (probably lack of sleep + exerting a lot of energy + dehydrated yesterday).
  • Proceeded to watch 4 episodes of Paripi Koumei (first time in a month where I spend a few hours to do "nothing" - felt a bit guilty, but also felt good).
  • Pool party at Miss Mao's house (haven't seen these people in a while, it was nice to socialize a bit, it can get a bit lonely at the apartment - wonder when I'll get used to it).
  • Active listening mode for JB.

Thought of the day:

While being in the self-development community or even in general pop culture, there's always these general saying around death.

"You only live once"

"Live as if today is your last day"

"If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, what would you do?"

And all the similar sayings.

They all mean the same thing, most things, in front of death mean jack shit.

But I was never able to apply this to my own life. The main reason being that I didn't understand how to apply it.

I always thought to myself "well, this is stupid, if today was my last day or if I knew I'd die in a week, I'd probably just live purely for short term pleasure instead of something long lasting." and because I know that most worthwhile things require long-term commitments, I just decided to ignore all these sayings.

Until today.... kinda.

Bottom line is that we should only use death in particular situations (instead of all the time) where using death will align our thinking with our desired behaviour.

Let me explain more in details by giving the train of thought that led to this "breakthrough".

Today, around 5pm or so, I was on the highway, driving at 100km/h in my brother's car.

Now, one thing to know about my brother is that he's pretty fucking lazy. Or maybe just unbothered by a lot of things.

One of those things is the fact that his car makes a weird noise when it goes over ~90km/h.

He knows about this for a very longtime, but never bothered going to check it out at a garage. His logic being that it's been doing this for a year or so and nothing bad happened so it can't be that bad.

I kinda agree with him, but every time I drive above 90km/h and it starts making THE noise, I'm always a bit scared that something bad might happen.

Today was no exception. I'm driving at 100km/h and the car starts doing the weird noise again and then I think to myself "wouldn't it be absolutely fucked if the car suddenly goes haywire and I get into a freak accident just because we (mostly he) didn't want to get his car checked out?"

Thankfully, nothing happened (and nothing WILL happen because I'm definitely going to get it checked out ASAP), but it allowed me to think about how to use death to my advantage.

Every time you want a desired outcome, but current circumstances are blocking you from your desired behaviour, simply think about death.

In this case, as soon as the trade-off becomes "do I spend maybe 2-3hrs at the garage to make sure everything is a-ok with the car" or "do I ignore this and there might be a 0.5% chance that this is serious and might cause a freak accident". Seems like option 1 is suddenly so much more appealing.

It's the same thing with life decisions. I often debate whether I want to take path A or path B and I believe thinking about death can help you make the "right" decision. Especially when you know which path you want to take, but things are holding you back. It's like "when I die, do I want to be proud that I took path A instead of path B" or even "when I die, will I regret that I didn't take path A because all these people wanted me to take path B or I was afraid of what people might think of me if I took path A."

Another useful case is when I'm mad at something. This one, I don't even think you need to use DEATH. Just thinking very very long term can help. Like "will this even matter in 10 year?" for the more trivial matters. But also, "if I were to suddenly die, will I regret being mad over this or at this person? Do I really want this to be my last memory / words /actions? Obviously, this isn't a reason to NEVER get mad because you can also use death like this "if I were to die, would I regret letting myself be stepped on by this person".

So yeah, I feel there's thousands upon thousands of scenarios where death can be used to create alignment between our desired and actual behaviours in a situation.

We should just keep in mind to only use it when it has a positive impact on our lives and not use it to justify shitty / useless behaviours.

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