I started this blog because I’m trying to turn my life around and get it pointed in the right direction. A really difficult question to answer is “what is the right direction?”and “how do I know it’s the right direction?”. Well, in this post I’m going to discuss a thought process (or thought experiment) about a different way to look at today that’s helping me with these questions.
By the way, the reason I like writing about these things is because it helps me more deeply understand my thoughts. Writing about it is actually a way of teaching myself. I’m also hoping that you will help me further by sharing some of your wisdom with me.
What if today is our last day?
I’m not talking about dying here. And I’m not talking about complete end-of-the-world scenarios. Just what if we were told that today will be our last day experiencing this reality we’re part of here on Earth?
Ok, that thought brings up lots confusing questions (like “where would we go?”), so let me explain.
Just for the sake of this thought process, let’s assume that we come from some sort of super-being that has the characteristics of being (a) completely good, (b) all powerful and (c) eternal. I don’t want to go into this part too deeply, but such a super-being wouldn’t be able to experience the things we go through on Earth because its world doesn’t contain (for example) the potential for evil and constraints of time that we have to deal with. So, let’s say our world has been created by this all-powerful super-being so that it can experience these things through us.
I’m not saying this is true, it’s just for the purpose of a thought experiment. It could well be true, but we could never know or prove it.
Now, back to the question “What if today is our last day?”.
Imagine that we’re told in the morning that today would be our last day on Earth and, after that, we’re returning to the super-being. We don’t have to die as such. We don’t have to get ill or have an accident. It’s just that our time in this reality of Earth is finishing and we’re being called back to the super-being.
What wouldn’t matter any more?
If we knew that today was our last day, it’s fairly easy to consider what wouldn’t matter any more. Here are some of the things that have come to my mind;
- all the things I’m planning on doing after today
- the fear I have about that presentation coming up next week
- worries about whether I’ll have enough money in retirement
- worries about getting cancer
- worries about my health in general
- concerns over how people view me because of mistakes I’ve made in the past
- grudges that I’ve built up with some people
- the material things that I have (none of them are leaving Earth)
What would still matter?
We’re on Earth for one more day and there must be some Earth specific things that are still important to take care of. Here are some of my ideas;
- The overall health of the people left behind (health of body, mind and spirit)
- The quality of the Earth environment (for all the people left behind)
- The amount of goodness pervading Earth
- The amount of beauty in this world
What would I really want to do?
The important thing here is to remember how this thought experiment was set up. We’re assuming that the Earth environment we live in was prepared by a super-being specifically so that we could experience things that the super-being can’t experience, except through us. With just one day left in such a world, it’s quickly apparent that it would be time to gather the last few experiences that we can in this world.
Here are some of the things I’d like to do on my last day;
- make sure I tell my friends and family how much I love and appreciate them
- be kind, respectful and compassionate to everyone
- really feel the sun on my face
- gaze at the beauty of nature
- feel the wind blow across my skin
- when someone does something bad to me, really feel the reaction and pain that wells up inside me (this doesn’t exist in the world of the super-being) – “enjoy” the experience
- enjoy the taste of food
- enjoy the movement of my body
- feel my breath entering and leaving my body
- enjoy playing games with other people
- enjoy laughter
- enjoy good times with friends and family
- soak up all the experiences I have – absorb them – really feel them – don’t miss them because of thoughts about something else
A different way to look at today – a better way to approach life!
This thought experiment has really prompted me to adjust my outlook on life. It doesn’t matter if the thought experiment is true or not, the conclusions I can draw from it seem good in any case.
I feel that my life will be better if I concentrate more on the things that would still matter and the things I would really want to do (see above) and less on the things that wouldn’t matter any more.
Looking at the last two lists above, they can be summarized with words like gratitude, respect, compassion, mindfulness and enjoyment. Maybe these are the key to life.
What could I get wrong?
There would also be some traps in a situation like this. I imagine the things that I could get stuck on are like these;
- trying to fit too much into the day and stressing over that
- worrying about leaving problems for my loved ones
- gorging food because there will be no consequences
I’d love to hear your reaction to all this. I find this an interesting thought experiment. Although it’s not perfect, it’s useful to me. I’m sure that hearing your reactions will make it more useful and interesting.
You’ve probably done thought experiments like this before. A common thought experiment people go through is “I wonder what it would be like to be a man/woman for a day?”. Even when we do this thought experiment, we find that we’re drawn to what it would be like to experience life from the perspective of a man/woman. It seems that the real essence of life is linked to the experiences we gather along the way, not things or status. Every moment we have is another chance to gather a new experience.