Every decision is life or death

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Tyler Tervooren.

“Just pick something,” they say. “It’s not life or death.”

Well, actually it is. Every decision you make is life or death. Every single one leads to one result or the other – even the seemingly insignificant ones.

When you decide to do something you love, you choose to live. When you decide to do something you don’t, you choose to die. It really is that simple.

Life is filled with daily decisions and lots of them are tied to these things we call responsibilities. Nothing wrong with that, really, as long as those are things that actually bring you to life. It’s easy to see responsibilities as a kind of burden – something we agreed to do a long time ago and now we’re stuck with it – but they can be rejuvenating and life affirming as well.

Big little decisions

I’ve given myself the responsibility to publish a new article twice a week. I have a whole list of things I feel responsible to accomplish that give me plenty of joy. When I get an email from you, I feel a deep sense of responsibility to answer it the best I can. Doing that makes me really happy.

Every day I decide to keep up with those responsibilities and my life is drastically better because of it.

I know this because sometimes I slip up and pass on an opportunity to get closer to my dreams or an email goes unanswered. When that happens, I can feel a real tug in my heart like I’ve missed something valuable. Like I decided not to live in favor of doing something else that doesn’t bring me happiness.

On the other hand, life is also filled with unwanted responsibilities – things we accidentally agreed to that drain our energy and do nothing but take us one step closer to the grave.

I’ve committed to jobs I didn’t actually want to do. I’ve agreed to help people with things I have no business helping them with. I’ve even committed myself to stupid little things like reading books that I hated because I’d already bought them and didn’t want to “waste the money.”

The big secret

Here’s the thing. Life is filled with all kinds of stuff that’s available to you in limitless quantity, but time isn’t one of them.

Every time you decide to do something that drains your energy instead of brings you life, you’re choosing to die instead of live.

It may seem like an insignificant decision, but do it too many times and you end up with a lot of regrets at the end. These things compound.

So what if today, instead of choosing to die, you chose to live instead? What if you blew off that unnecessary responsibility and found a new one that actually made you happy?

What would happen?

  • Would you die?
  • Would you go to jail?
  • Would your family disown you?

If you can answer no to those three questions, it’s probably in your best interest to go ahead and do it.

All or Nothing?

Sure, we can’t get away from everything we dislike about life, but that’s okay; a little bit of tension is what makes it worth living. There is no sweet without the contrasting sour. The goal is to slowly tip the scale towards life instead of death.

I suppose if I wanted to be morbid, I could say that, yes, we’re all slowly dying, but wouldn’t you rather live a little on your way there?

I know my answer.

So what do you think? How can you start making more decisions to live?

(Photo courtesy of redwood)

Tyler Tervooren blogs at Advanced Riskology. He is a writer, musician, and risk taker on a quest to join the top 1% of the world. Tyler loves helping people do scary things that improve their lives.

Reacting to the news of a teacher dying

Post written by Suraj Shah.

If you heard that a teacher you admire has just died, how would you react?

When I was studying for my GCSEs, I was struggling with physics. Fortunately, mum had hired a private tutor to help me align with the subject better.

Mr Wynston, an admired physics tutor

Mr Wynston would come to our home every single Tuesday evening and would help me to understand the past week’s topic. He would only charge for an hour, but would leave only after he was positive that I clearly understood the topic that we had planned to work on that week.

Every week, the wide-built Mr Wynston would arrive in his tiny Nissan Micra, and would pop a mint into his mouth as soon as he stepped in the front door. During our sessions he would always write with a pencil and would press so hard that he almost engraved the dining table with physics formulae! I thought that was just his style, but it turns out that he was probably struggling to write. I really admired Mr Wynston for the way he taught and the care he took with me. He was firm, but kind.

Getting the news

Close to the date of my exams, mum got a call from Mrs Wynston. Now Mr Wynston’s wife would never normally call us. Once mum got off the phone, she shared the news with me that Mr Wynston had been battling with cancer for a long time, although we didn’t know it, and he had passed away.

Confused reaction

As soon as mum told me this, a smile shot across my face, compounded with a deep feeling of guilt (for smiling) and confusion about how to react to the news. I felt sad and frustrated at not knowing what I felt about it, and my inappropriate expression. Even mum looked shocked at the way I was reacting to it.

This was probably one of my earliest memories of learning about someone I knew personally being alive one moment and dead the next.

I recall there have been other times when I have received sad news in my life. Not knowing how to react, I have expressed an inappropriate smile. Has that ever happened to you?

Death becomes easier to deal with

As we grow up, death seems to be easier to react to. We hear about it more. We expect it more. We know that where there is birth and life, death is certainly inevitable. Somehow that makes it easier to deal with.

(Photo courtesy of kpwerker)

Would you notice?

Poem written by Suraj Shah.

Time to wake up from this slumber,
Time to put my mundane desires to the side…

If I were to go today, would you notice me missing?
If I were to stay today, would you notice me here?
Doing much to keep me happy,
Running far away from fear.

Working hard for temporary pleasures,
Forgetting to focus on the core,
Ignoring the needs of others,
Is it only me that I adore?

Time to wake up from this slumber,
Time to put my mundane desires to the side,
Got to be brave and fight my inner enemies,
Got to no longer choose to hide.

If I were to go today, would you notice me missing?
If I were to stay today, would you notice me here?
Turn my attention now towards my true self,
Turn my attention towards what’s near.

If I were to go today, would you notice me missing?

Listen to the poem "Would you notice?"

(Photo courtesy of DieselDemon)