I read an article last week that charted changes in Canadian life expectancy since 1921. If I had been born in that year, the odds are good that I would already be dead. The average life expectancy of a person born in 1921 was 57, a milestone I reached last year.
By the time I was born, in 1960, life expectancy had grown to 70 years, and now, a child born in Canada can expect to live to be in their mid-eighties. What a fantastic gift that is.
Treating Time Like a Gift
What would you do with an extra 24 years? How can you maintain a high quality of life, so those years are not wasted?
The days you have should be treated like a bag of precious stones that can be spent on experience. Or tokens that you use at an arcade or amusement park. Take the rides you want, spend time doing the things you love, focus on making each one count.
There are a couple of ways to get a few more (eat right, stop smoking, all that “preachy” stuff), but the biggest thing you can do is appreciate how valuable each one can be. When I look at my days like that, I ask myself how I can get the most from each one. I try to live each day as if it were the most valuable day I have left in the bag. It does not always work; sometimes I get distracted and “waste” one. I guess we can’t all be perfect all the time, but I like to think of those wasted days as being spent on mental or emotional health.
None of us are alone; we are surrounded by people all on their own journey with their own valuable days to spend. When I remember that everyone I know is one day closer to death, it becomes easier to think of ways I can make the time I have left with them count.
Spend it Wisely
My favorite way to spend those precious hours and days is being with my partner. Now that I’m not constrained in the time I can spend with her I find it easy to chat, plan, laugh, or just “be” with her. No time I spend with her is ever considered “wasted” or better spent elsewhere.
The trick I find is to try and be continually aware of where my time is spent. It is easy (for me at least) to slowly forget that time is truly fleeting. I need to constantly remind myself that I should never take it for granted.
Ask yourself the tough questions like “What would I do if I only had a month to live?” and “Am I spending this day doing something that matters to me?”
I hope I am on the right track, especially since none of us know just how many of those precious stones are left in the bag.
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