"What man can you show me who places any value on his time, who reckons the worth of each day, who understands that he is dying daily?" - Seneca
In his book Mastery, Robert Greene describes how certain individuals become masters of their craft.
A major reason for their successes, he claims, was their sense of urgency.
How many of us live with a sense of urgency?
Do we pursue our passions with energy and zeal, or just go through the motions of everyday life?
The creator of Wait But Why had an excellent post on this topic here, where he talks about making a 'life calendar' so that people can visualize their lives in weeks.
When you see all of the weeks in an average human lifespan, your first reaction might be dejection. It's sobering to see how short life really looks when represented in this way.
But why should this cause grief? Can't we use our inevitable mortality as motivation to seize each and every day?
There is an interesting psychological phenomenon known as 'Parkinson's law', which holds that "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion". In other words, we are natural procrastinators. Sometimes we need strict deadlines in order to get things done. Without a deadline, our inclination to conserve energy takes hold. Why make an effort if we don't really have to?
But we all must face the impending deadline of death. So why aren't we more motivated to achieve our goals?
Our mortality doesn't feel real. We all know we're going to die, but it's hard to feel that when one average day blends into the next.
Sometimes it takes a near-death experience or the passing of a loved one for us to think about our own future deaths.
I think we should constantly remind ourselves of our morality. This isn't to be grim or morbid, but instead to help us appreciate the time we do have.
So maybe we should volunteer in a hospital, spend time with the elderly, and take long walks through cemeteries. The more connected we feel to death, the more gratitude we can feel for our own lives. And our deadline is clear, we will have a greater sense of urgency in the present.