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Unlocking 3 Keys to a Full Life: Insights from a Near-Death Experience
Life lessons from a man who confronted death and now leads a more fulfilling life because of it.
Read time: 3 minutes, 30 seconds
After hitting a flock of birds on that gloomy January morning, everyone on US Airways Flight 1549 should have died.
But thanks to the heroic efforts of pilots Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and Jeffrey Skiles, who skillfully landed the plane on the Hudson River, all 155 people on board were saved.
Ric Elias, CEO and co-founder of Red Ventures, was one of those survivors.
Near-death experiences often provide clarity that eludes us in the hustle of everyday life.
In that fateful 90 seconds before impact, when death seemed certain, Ric realized that he had three major regrets in how he had lived his life.
From these regrets, three keys to living a fulfilling and regret-free life emerged.
Don’t wait until you face death to learn these lessons.
Weave them into your mindset now and live a more full, purposeful, and rich life because of it.
The 3 Keys to Living a Full Life
Key #1: Everything can change in an instant; so time really, really matters.
You can always make more money.
You can quit now and come back to your job in five years.
You can sell your house and buy a new one when the time is right.
But you cannot come back to the present moment you are in. Ever.
You cannot come back to the age you are now.
And don’t forget, you will never be younger than you are right at this very moment.
Once time has passed us, it is in the grip of death.
Life is urgent. Act as such. Do not postpone the important things and, when necessary, choose to be uncomfortable rather than unhappy.
Time is truly your most valuable possession.
Key #2: Relationships are at the core of the richness of life.
The most joyous moments in our lives, the slideshow of memories playing in our minds as we lay on our deathbeds, will come from time spent with those we love.
This is mistakenly forgotten in the Western world.
We are an individualistic society to the core. Collectively, we value work ethic and productivity over balance and quality time with family and friends.
And when life gets busy and something has to go, relationships are often the first thing we eliminate.
I’m guilty of prioritizing work, exercise, or alone time over my relationships.
There is a time and place for everything and I’m not saying that relationships should be your number one priority.
But family, friends, loved ones, and a community or group to which you contribute and feel strongly attached are all critical pieces to a fulfilling life.
Do not discount their value and kick them to the curb when life gets busy. There is a time to be productive and a time to build and enjoy relationships.
It’s your job to find a balance that works for you and to have the awareness and assertiveness to protect relationship time despite the endless strain from our never-ending task lists.
Key #3: Failing to live true to your main purpose will be your biggest regret.
No one can tell you what your purpose is.
You must tune in to yourself and your environment to discover what brings you to life. What calls you? What makes you feel alive?
As one of my favourite authors and storytellers, Boyd Varty put it in The Lion Tracker’s Guide to Life:
“Don’t try to be someone, rather find the thing that is so engaging that it makes you forget yourself.”
Listen to yourself then have the courage to act. Choose uncertainty over unhappiness. Have the boldness to do what feels right to you, regardless of what those around you think or say.
It’s not easy, but the alternative is a life filled with regret.
And no one wants to lie on their deathbed wishing they chose a different life path.
The Hard Part: Applying What You Know To Be True
These lessons aren’t new information.
Deep in our gut and heart, we know them to be true.
But in the busyness of life, we fall into the rut of a daily routine and allow small problems in reality to swell into huge issues in our minds.
We allow social pressures to dictate our choices and we replace our own desires and passions with those of our friends, parents, or even social media strangers posting perfectly curated highlight reels of their life.
To combat the negative forces of society, here are a few practical strategies to get off autopilot and tune in to the wild part of yourself that knows what you are meant to do and be:
Meditate 5-10 minutes per day
Spend more time in nature forest bathing
Create silence and listen to your own thoughts
Think about your own impermanence (aka death) often
That’s all for this week!
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Much love to you and yours,