Its 1:11 a.m.- I’m sitting in bed, thinking. I think about London and if it’s the best move for me. I think about my relationship and where it could lead or if it will go nowhere. I think the gloomy and joyful events as of late and how they will affect the holidays.
But mostly I think about death: my death, your death, the death of my dog, recent deaths. I can’t seem to shake these dead thoughts. I wish they would just die.
Then I began to think once more, “but why do I have these thoughts? What are they for?”
As I sat this weekend at a wake, I realized life is so precious. Death, thought provoking yes, can also teach you and I something vital.
I found an article, tilted “How Thinking About Death Can Lead to a Good Life,” from the Society for Professional and Social Psychology.
It said: “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. Even non-conscious thinking about death – say walking by a cemetery – could prompt positive changes and promote helping others.”
“Thinking about death can also promote better health. Recent studies have shown that when reminded of death people may opt for better health choices, such as using more sunscreen, smoking less, or increasing levels of exercise.”
I recall when my step-father had a heart attack. My mother was faced with the prospect of her husband’s death, which prompted her to alter their healthy behaviors. My mother, nearly within hours, decided to make serious life changes for the two of them. They started walking together, eating better, and either quit or substantially cut down on smoking.
I almost feel like I’m avoiding a touchy topic, but can’t seem to place what it is. I crave to talk about my death, but I don’t want to come across crazy or suicidal- just… philosophical. But perhaps I’ll save that for another time.
Meanwhile, here are five Buddhism-inspired insights about death that can transform the way you live your life.
1. Life and death are part of a single whole.
2. Disease and death are not shameful.
3. A distracted life is not a full life.
4. Accepting what cannot be changed reduces suffering.
5. Death reveals the importance of love.