There's a narrative in our culture that we find clarity when we face death. We come closer to our values and consider what's truly important to us. This narrative is evident in an article I read recently about the top 5 regrets of the dying. It was written by a palliative nurse who published a book of the same title a couple years ago — you might remember it.
But why can't we make space for these epiphanies before becoming palliative? Why didn't these folks consider these important questions earlier? Why do we ignore the reality that our human life is impermanent, only to have regrets when it's ending?
Well, because death is a scary topic. In fact, if you're reading this article, bravo. That takes courage. We live in a death-denying culture, where we don't like to talk or think about death. It makes us feel uneasy. We don't even like the word "die." We say things like "pass" or "expire," and get uncomfortable around others who are grieving.
But what if, by ignoring our mortality, we're doing ourselves a giant disservice? What if mindfully thinking about our own inevitable death — our finite existence, our impermanence — were healthy for living a good life? Well, it is. Here's why:
1. Thinking about death motivates us.