4 harsh truths that will make you a better person

4 harsh truths that will make you a better person

via Eric Barker

Why is it that whenever someone says, “face the facts” you know you’re about to hear something you don’t want to hear? Probably because of a second cliche: “The truth hurts.”

Nobody recommends denial — but nobody recommends procrastination, either. And we’re all prone to both. Denial is existential procrastination.

But issues aren’t scary when we know there are solutions. It’s much easier to face harsh truths when we know there’s a roadmap, and that we’ll come out the other side stronger.

So let’s look at some difficult realities and learn how we can leverage research to turn what looks like a pit of despair into a trampoline that will bounce us to greater heights. Sound cool? Cool.

Let’s get to it…

Guess What? You’re Going To Die.

Cheery, right? You’re going to die. We all know it but we sure don’t live like we know it. We act like there will always be another day, another year, and then we wonder where the time went. Because thinking about death is scary.

But many great thinkers including the Stoics (and even the samurai) strongly believed we live better lives when we stay aware of death. And science agrees too:

Thinking about death can actually be a good thing. An awareness of mortality can improve physical health and help us re-prioritize our goals and values, according to a new analysis of recent scientific studies.

Face facts (there’s that expression again) — how much do you get done without a deadline? Well, we have one. The date’s a little fuzzy but, rest assured, there is one. If we didn’t have death we’d all be procrastinating like, “I’ll get to that next century.”

You get about 30,000 days and then you’re done. And you’ve already used up a good portion of them. Death puts life into focus.

But we ignore death, so we lose track of what’s important. Of priorities. Of the big picture. Of what’s meaningful. We even lose track of what’s fun. Friends don’t get seen and vacation days don’t get used. We don’t acknowledge that there’s an end and so we don’t prioritize and we waste time — and not even in ways that are truly enjoyable. Well, I think that’s scarier than death.

When Karl Pillemer of Cornell University studied 1200 people age 70 to 100+, what was the main lesson the older folks wanted to convey to all of us whippersnappers?

I would say lesson number one, endorsed by almost all of these 1,200 people, and one in which people tended to be rather vehement, is “Life is short.” …They want to pound this awareness into young people, not to depress them, but to encourage them to make better choices. In the field of gerontology, there is a whole theory called “socioemotional selectivity theory.” What they argue is that the one thing that makes people different at 70 and beyond, from younger people, developmentally, is a sense of limited time horizon. You become really aware that your days are numbered. Rather than that being so depressing, people start to make better choices.

When we’re aware of the quantity, we improve the quality. Now the Stoic philosopher Seneca didn’t feel life was short — but he came to a conclusion that still jibes with what Karl found:

It’s not that we have too short a time to live, but that we squander a great deal of it. Life is long enough, and it’s given in sufficient measure to do many great things if we spend it well. But when it’s poured down the drain of luxury and neglect, when it’s employed to no good end, we’re finally driven to see that it has passed by before we even recognized it passing. And so it is – we don’t receive a short life, we make it so.

So what should we do? Live a month like it’s your last. That’s what happiness researcher Sonja Lyubomirskythinks might be the solution. Don’t imagine you have terminal cancer — imagine you’re going to move far away from your job, your friends, your family, your life as you know it now. When an end is in sight, we appreciate things more:

Previous research hints that this exercise should prompt us to appreciate in a profound way what we are preparing to give up. When we believe that we are seeing (or hearing, doing, or experiencing) things for the last time, we will see (or hear, do, or experience) them as though it’s the first time.

Far from being painful, knowing there’s an end makes life richer.

(To learn more about the science of a successful life, check out my bestselling book here.)

Okay, fellow mortal, we’re doing the right things because we don’t have limitless time. But what harsh truth do we need to face about those things and that time?

…keep reading the full & original article HERE