Why “living each day like it’s your last” is bad advice
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Why “living each day like it’s your last” is bad advice

A vendor I frequent at the weekly farmer’s market was emphatically describing how healthy I looked, “amazing!” and recounting how frightened she was for me a few months back when I visited her booth while recovering from complications from major surgery, “like the walking dead!”. She espoused the advice she had once read, “live each day like it’s your last”. In the moment I considered each word and concluded after five years of chronic illness that “living each day like it’s your last” is a terrible way to go through life.

Our subconscious is recording everything.

Let’s play this out. You are informed that today is your last day on Earth—immediately you start making a checklist in your head of the things you have to do before the day ends: people to visit, bucket list items to check off, perhaps take up smoking, drinking or eating excessively. Cramming. The same mode you employed during school when realizing a paper was due or there was a big test the following day.

Treating something as finite immediately conjures a desire for more—time, tastes, orgasms, love, adventures—the subjects are endless and your last day becomes a crescendo of FOMO (fear of missing out). The worst part is no matter what you check off the list you weren’t present for any of it as you looked to the next thing and none of it has a material impact on tomorrow. If today is your last, what are you telling your subconscious? There is no hope, no tomorrow.

Words are powerful.

With social media and an endless barrage of marketing messages related to how we should be thinking about things, it can be so easy to adopt mantras without really thinking about their effect on our lives. This is particularly present in the marketing and slogans around chronic illness and life-threatening diseases. I have gone through the language game of “battling”, “beating”, “fighting” during my time with Crohn’s and only recently realized, while at times my process has felt like all of those words, my subconscious had created “winning” and “losing” scenarios and I was on one side or the other. Neither included thriving throughout the process and certainly didn’t encapsulate the wealth of gifts I have received along the way from the people in my life and the process itself.

“Live each day like it is your first”

I realized, in real-time, while standing in front of the vendor at the market that I didn’t want to live like today was my last—I’ve had moments where that feeling was all too real and it was filled with sadness, loss and fear for the future of the people I loved.

Living like today is your first day on Earth opens you up to all possibilities, has no pre-loaded expectations or desires to fill, with no framework for past regrets or anxiety about the future. Present.

If you woke up to your life as if it was your first you may even find that going to work is a grand adventure, discovering a wealth of skills you possess, puzzles to solve and personalities to experience and appreciate.

You may feel the full strength of the love and admiration of your partner or spouse and children and be smacked with the depth of your own feelings, no longer dulled by the cumulative worries and burdens of your obligations.

You may let yourself explore the latent creative impulses that stir deep inside or bathe in the endless well of inspiration offered by the natural world around you.

You may feel excitement and curiosity for what is to come as your energy starts to run low and you feel drawn to your bed, curling up and closing your eyes.

You will just be you.

Originally posted on Medium