“When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a manner that when you die the world cries and you rejoice.” – Indian Proverb
In 2009, the author Robert D. Smith had a paradigm shift about his life on his 54th birthday; he realized that he has been alive for nearly 20,000 days, 480,000 hours, 28,800,000 minutes, and 1,728,000,000 seconds. 20,000 Days and Counting by Robert D. Smith is a short and precise book on the art of living life to the fullest. Robert shed light on the need to use our time efficiently, live a legacy in the world, and become better every waking day of our life.
The Basic premise of the 20,000 Days and Counting book: Live every day like it could be your last, and do not take any moment for granted because life is very transient and temporary. We overestimate what we can achieve in a year but underestimate what we can achieve in a day.
“One of the illusions [of life] is that the present hour is not the critical, decisive hour. Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. No man has learned anything rightly until he knows that every day is Doomsday. – RALPH WALDO EMERSON AMERICAN ESSAYIST, LECTURER, POET B. MAY 25, 1803, D. APRIL 27, 1882 (HE LIVED EXACTLY 28,827 DAYS
Here are my favourite take-aways from reading, 20,000 Days and Counting by Robert D. Smith:
Ask yourself these two questions:
- What is important now?
- What is next?
“To this day, those same two questions keep me up late, get me up early, and create a never-ending quest of enormous possibilities and accomplishments.“
Knowing that the quality of my life will never exceed the quality of my questions, I must ask outstanding questions. What am I doing that will count two hundred years from now? For eternity?
Present success or failure does not measure the true value of your life’s work. You still have now.
Time is merely the measure of passing events. Time is inflexible. You cannot manage it. It cannot be compressed or expanded. Bottom line: don’t focus on time, but on events themselves. When you control the event, you control your life. Fill these events with people you love. Relationships will be enhanced and memories created.
LIVING EACH DAY AS IF IT WERE YOUR LAST
“I know that “live this day as if it were your last” is an old and tired cliché that is often written or spoken with little thought to it. But there’s a reason why it is used so much. Let me explain.“
The reality of that statement is this: if you were actually told that today was your last day, you’d waste hours trying to figure out exactly how you should be spending your final moments.
That’s why “live this day as if it were your last” isn’t about action. If it were about action, most people would blow off work and ignore 99 percent of their daily responsibilities, just trying to decide what to do. You wouldn’t accomplish much for the long term. So it’s not about actions. It’s about mind-set. It is a thought process.
it’s not about actions. It’s about mind-set. It is a thought process.
Three things you can do to make getting into this mind-set a little bit easier on yourself.
1. CREATE A LIFE STATEMENT
From The Power of Positive Thinking by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, which was first published in 1952, and it’s still completely relevant and applicable today.
I BELIEVE I AM ALWAYS DIVINELY GUIDED.
I BELIEVE I WILL ALWAYS TAKE THE RIGHT TURN IN THE ROAD.
AND I BELIEVE GOD WILL ALWAYS MAKE A WAY WHERE THERE IS NO WAY.3”
2. CONTACT IMPORTANT PEOPLE
Which people matter most to you in life? Are there things you need to share with them? How can you express gratitude to them today? You can call or do something as simple as writing a letter or an e-mail.
Never forget the people who count in your life—not just parents but the other important people as well: teachers, mentors, spouses, friends, and more. Never forget what they’ve done for you. Honor them visibly. Let them know they matter and are critical to your life. Always.
“Applaud everyone you can today. Step up and stand up! Yell loud and long. Celebrate who they are and who they are becoming.”
3. NUMBER YOUR DAYS, DAILY
. Stop counting days down. Instead, count them up! Marvel at how many you’ve been allowed to spend on this planet. And never forget that each one could be your last.
There is no thought that will purge your priorities of worthless and worldly tastes like that of your impending death. Ponder the kind of life you would like to look back on when you come to die. There is enormous wisdom in such thoughts and meditation. Think often of your death. It is essential to understand that you have been dying since the day you were born.
“Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today. – JAMES DEAN AMERICAN FILM ACTOR FEBRUARY 8, 1931, D. SEPTEMBER 30, 1955 (HE LIVED EXACTLY 9,000 DAY
IF WE CAN LEARN HOW TO DIE, WE’LL KNOW HOW TO LIVE
“The best preparation for living well is to be prepared to die at any time.”
Imminent death inspires clarity of purpose, a rearranging of what really matters. How many times have you heard of people having near-death experiences and then making radical changes in their lives? From where they live and work, to whom they spend time with, to what takes priority, it all suddenly has a different meaning.
Whether it is a health scare or a terrifying plane ride, if you’ve ever waited for those test results to come back or for that turbulence to even out, those moments in between can feel like eternity. You question everything. And when you get the good news and the plane safely touches down, you are grateful and swear to live differently. Why not pledge to live better right now? Choose to be fully alive, purposeful, and loving today.
If we learn how to die, we’ll know how to live; if we learn how to live, we’ll know how to die.
How long does it take to discover your purpose in life? Believe it or not, twenty minutes! Remember, we are short on time, so we have to hurry. So be open to this. You must expect it to work; then it will.
1. Get a blank sheet of paper. Title it, “My Purpose in Life.
2. Start writing. Right now. Write. Write all you can. Words, phrases, complete sentences. Just write. Don’t stop. Write some more.
3. Repeat step two until you get the answer that makes you either cry or jump up and down with excitement. Condense it into one sentence. This is your purpose.
THE STATE OF INTENSITY
MANY PEOPLE MAY THINK THAT INTENSITY IS A STATE OF mind. But it is not. Intensity is a state of emotion. Intensity goes from the heart to the head. Intensity is enthusiasm. Intensity is passion. Intensity is being in love. You have to be emotionally connected to what you are doing in order to pursue it with intensity.
In order to make every day count, you must have that emotional connection—the fanatical commitment to follow through. Most likely, you have already created that desire, the intensity, the passion that will pull you forward. Now it’s just a matter of tapping into it on a consistent basis. Deep down, you know what counts in life. Simply focus on it.
EAT DESSERT FIRST
YOU KNOW WHEN YOU’RE OUT TO DINNER AND THAT REALLY amazing, decadent dessert on the menu catches your eye? You file it away in your mind and think, I’ll get that after the meal. Then, by the time you’re done and it’s time for dessert, you’re too full to eat anything else! Sound familiar?
Celebrating your life is kind of like that. We always think, Now’s not the time to stop and celebrate. I’ll do that once I’ve (insert lofty goal you want to accomplish here).
Here’s the problem with that philosophy: if you don’t stop to celebrate the little steps along the way, you get burned out! You get “too full,” just like when you put off dessert.
Order the dessert before you have time to fill up, before you have time to think about the calories. You can work those off! These are similar to the excuses we try to use for not celebrating: “I don’t have time; I’m too tired; I haven’t accomplished anything major yet. Forget about those excuses. The little steps must be recognized and honored. The main goal would be unreachable without them.
When you form a clear plan for your life, every day becomes part of something bigger: the process. It’s up to you, however, to determine who you are in the process of becoming.
You are the pebble that has been dropped into this gorgeous, beautiful, incredible, God-made, awe-inspiring pool of life. The pebble knows not of the ripples it creates. But there are always incalculable numbers of ripples that go to the edge of eternity. And you simply float to the bottom of the pool. But it’s not just the bottom; it’s the foundation. It is the foundation of everything you are. It is everything you are to become. It is everything you are creating.
“Winning is defined by the legacy you create, and legacies always take time to build.”
THREE STEPS TO CATAPULT YOUR LIFE
Sit down with a notebook or a laptop, and do this for yourself:
Step 1: Determine how many days you have been alive. Are you shocked? Amazed?
Step 2: Determine immediately the answer to these two critical, ongoing questions. (I know you can’t be sure about these things, but IF you were, what might they be?)
1. What is important right now to you?
2. What is next for you?
Having trouble? Here are some thoughts to prompt your answers:
• What have I not thought of yet?
• What is one immediate need I can fill for someone I know?
• What is a huge dream I have? How can I think bigger?
Step 3: Draft your life’s story, then live it!
SEVEN QUESTIONS TO SEIZE THE ESSENCE OF TODAY
WANT TO GUARANTEE THAT YOU WILL CREATE INTENSITY every day of your life? Then review these questions, as if for the first time, every single morning you are blessed with another day.
1. Whose life am I going to brighten today?
2. What three things am I most grateful for today?
3. What memories am I going to create today?
4. What challenge am I going to overcome today?
5. What value am I going to create today?
6. How much joy can I create for others and myself today?”
“or others and myself today?
7. What life-changing decision(s) am I going to make today?
Bonus Question (just to cover all the bases): What question am I not asking yet today?
“Never be misled by the number of hours in a day. This number simply represents the time that is potentially available to you. Each of these moments is but a dab of paint you can apply to the canvas of your life. Somewhere between sunrise and sunset, let it not be said that you lost an hour. No reward can be offered to find lost hours, for they are gone forever. The present moment is the only moment you totally control.”
You do not choose to be born. You do not choose your parents. You do not choose the time period in which you live. You do not choose the country of your birth. You do not choose the circumstances of your upbringing. In most cases, you do not choose to die. You do not choose the time or conditions of your death.
Despite all the realms of this choicelessness, we do choose how we will live.
All the Best in your quest to get Better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.