Someday, you will die. How does reading that sentence make you feel?

Maybe you think it's incredibly depressing, that the thought makes life meaningless.

Or maybe you think it's incredibly liberating. Maybe it inspires you to make the best of every day: not in a heedless pursuit of instant gratification, but to live as purposefully and meaningfully as possible.

Either way, you get to choose how you will react to that sentence--because how you react is a choice.

In simple terms, that's an underlying premise of Stoicism. Stoicism has nothing to do with being stone-faced and not showing emotion; Stoicism is a practical philosophy that says while we can't control everything that happens, we can control how we respond.

Fortunately, how you decide to respond--to whatever happens around you and to you--can actually be very simple.

That's why Ryan Holiday, the author of The Obstacle Is the Way and The Daily Stoic, created the Memento Mori medallion, a coin I now carry with me everywhere that serves as a physical reminder that "You could leave life right now." (The idea comes from Marcus Aurelius, who wrote, "You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.")

For me it's a tangible reminder that I can never control all the things around me, but I can always control how I think, and respond, and act. 

It's easy to live mindlessly when you think you'll live forever. When you not only face, but actually embrace, the fact your days are numbered...that changes your perspective. 

Today could be the last day you get to make a difference in another person's life. Today could be the last day you get to tell the people close to you that you love them. 

And of course it goes beyond that. Want to start a business? Do it now. Don't wait five years. You may not have five years. Want to change careers? Wait too long and you may never get the chance. Want to learn something, accomplish something, become something? Start doing it now.

While you're unlikely to leave life right now, someday you will. That's a fact, but it's an easy fact to forget.

So get a coin and keep it in your pocket.

Then, whenever something happens and you need to decide how to respond...or whenever you need to make a decision about the best course of action...take a moment and close your hand around your coin.

That's all it will take to remind you to refuse to ever have to look back and wish you had lived today differently.

Or any other day.

Time is the most precious asset we have. Don't waste yours.

Published on: Oct 26, 2017
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