Category Archives: Self Help

A Year to Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last

A Year to Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last

I just finished a book called A Year to Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last–a very straightforward name and such a simple concept, but it really brought about a new way of thinking for me. What would you do if you were diagnosed with one year to live?

We always think we have our whole life planned out and we live according to that map, but we rarely, if ever, think about if it were not to go to plan. We ignore death, but no one’s exempt from it–it’s actually quite a practical practice.

As a result of this book, every situation I’ve been in lately has led me to at least think about this concept. I’ve been less inclined to do things that I feel are a distraction to what I need to do and I’ve been less inclined to cater to people’s needs that aren’t in line with my own. It’s led me to shift theory into action, I’ve been writing lists of things that need to change and changing them–I even launched this blog “before I was ready” as a result of the book.

There are so many things we feel we need to do, but we don’t because we “don’t have the time” or whatever the case may be, but if we were given a year to live, we would make the time. There are things that were lingering in my mind (one of which was writing this blog) that I hadn’t explored, but this book gave me a sense of urgency.

It talks a lot about meditation practices, which, whether you “believe” in or not, help to bring you back to the basics. It also helps to get clarity and oversee what’s important if we were in this “urgent” situation. We need to learn to come back to the breath and soften all the hardness we’ve implemented in our lives.

I’m planning on exploring this book through this blog and open a discussion for anyone who would like to. The date I was introduced to this concept and set as a “death” is November 28th, 2013.

Getting past the distraction of modern life

distraction of modern life

My grandmother, Mom and Aunt (twins) in the Bronx circa 1940′s. One of my favorite pictures ever.

Looking through old photographs of my mom and grandparents living in New York City in the 1950’s and beyond, I always become mesmerized by them. I like to imagine a time when life was so much more raw, simple and in-the-moment. Their neighborhood was clean, brick walls, with maybe a tasteful hand-painted advertisement on the side of one building per block–you wouldn’t even recognize that it was a city according to today’s standards.

I try to imagine being in those photographs; things were very hard then in a lot of ways, but they weren’t as complicated. People were so much more engaged, with family and friends integrated into their lives, they didn’t have therapists to talk to, they were surrounded by a support system–the way things really should be. Now, as I live in a building where I don’t even know any of my neighbors, it’s such a strange new dynamic.

distraction of modern life

Grandpa with pet horses (In the Bronx!)

The older generation left the house knowing where to go and when to meet someone, there was a commitment to be upfront. Today you leave the house with your head half screwed on and realizing that it’s ok, you can figure out where you’re going on your phone and text the person with up-to-the-minute details of how late you’re going to be.

Our lives now are all distraction from the life in front of us, we’re rarely in the moment; it’s actually difficult to be in the moment. Even if you were to take a day off of technology, the distraction finds a way. Notice the advertisements in front of you–visual pollution–everything is competing for your attention. I’ve noticed there are advertisements even on the bars of subway turnstiles.

distraction of modern life

My mom and aunt (twins). Who would know that they’re in NYC?

Now a simple walk in the street is even a distraction, we’re updating our Facebooks and Twitters with our findings, if we have people over the house, we’re sure to broadcast it onto the internet instead of just enjoying our company.

It’s so easy to become distracted, our whole lives can easily be given up to distraction if we let them. The challenge is to catch yourself in the act and keep life in moderation.

The Prescription Pill Epidemic: Why we are taking pills for everything and anything

“These days, you need a pill for everything: a pill to sleep, a pill to wake, a pill to eat, a pill to crap. What the hell is it all about!?”
– My 93 year old Grandma (who’s been saying this for years)

prescription pillsRight on, Grandma! Let me take a stab at why I believe this to be true. Society is in a state where we have never been so far removed from nature. If 95% of us were just dropped off into the wilderness, there’s no chance in hell we would live a week. We know how to sit at a desk and work and make money to keep living, but our raw survival skills are completely diminished.

Although what’s in front of us seems normal–or it’s become what’s normal to us–it’s not normal. We rarely know where our food comes from, most of it’s ridden with chemicals, pesticides, processed beyond the point of recognition and then served in plastic–a hideous material as well as a carcinogenic. Lets break down Grandma’s colorful words a bit more, shall we?

A pill to sleep
We’re on technology all day long, whether it be the TV, computer, tablet, smart phone, etc, etc, etc, we don’t even realize how casually we’re on these things. We’re bombarded with bad news, visual stimulation, violence, we’re having rough days at work, and interacting less with other people, staying up late and not getting enough sleep.

These machines are stimulating our eyes and minds and we’re using them right up to the point we sleep. How are you going to get a good night sleep after cramming all that into a day? And don’t get me started on energy drinks and caffeine!

A pill to wake
After a bad night’s sleep (as noted above), we’re then setting our alarm clock to make sure we don’t sleep in (when that’s all we need is sleep), we force ourselves awake, we’re groggy from not getting enough sleep OR ALSO from taking a pill to sleep, we get up, don’t eat when our body’s starving, start loading up the caffeine to amounts that aren’t normal for human consumption and wonder why we’re constantly in a state of tired and over-stimulated. Now, what’s easier? Adjusting all the mal-aligned patterns? Or taking a pill?

A pill to eat
Although under-eating is seemingly not much of an epidemic in this country, as a society, we’re overworked, don’t have time to eat and stressed out beyond comprehension. Our bodies are very resilient, they really adjust to a lot of torture we put them through. Sometimes we don’t even realize we’re hungry when our bodies are, we get in the habit of depriving ourselves of food and then do end up needing supplements to resume basic living functions.

A pill to crap
People don’t understand what a well-balanced diet means. We always hear “eat your veggies” growing up, but we never learned the incentive. Well, there are a ton of diseases and disorders that come from complications of not eating a well balanced diet. I know plenty of people that simply eat meat and potatoes, some are lucky enough to be thin (which may be prone to stroke) and most I would say are overweight (prone to heart attack). I know there are a lot of people who have conditions intestinal disorders, but I feel like it’s a change of intake or lifestyle that has to at least be tried before reaching for that pill box.

Other pills (which Grandma has brought up in other quotes):
Antidepressants
Again, we’re severely over stimulated and overstressed. Times are not simple, we’re constantly on the go and watching our lives so-casually pass us by. We’re on Facebook watching other people living the lives we think we want and our heads are spinning. What we need to do is figure out what is and isn’t working for us and adjust our lives accordingly instead of numbing ourselves up to not deal with anything.

In all these cases, instead of dealing with the problems, we’re just medicating. Quick fixes never work, they just hold the problems at bay, so although times aren’t easy right now, we need to work on what’s not working for us rather than sweep it under the carpet and hope we don’t trip over it.