Player One: You are about to die.

Are you wasting your most valuable resource? 

Imagine I told you today that you had a wallet with $1,000 in it. You could spend it on whatever or whoever you want. But you wake up again tomorrow with a new $1,000, whether you spend none or all of it.

What would you choose to do?

I’d guess you’ll spend it! You might spend it on an experience, something you’ve always wanted to buy, or maybe you’d spend it on others.

Right? After all, if it’s gonna disappear tomorrow might as well spend it.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m not really talking bout money. I’m talking about the resource that’s infinitely more valuable, non-refundable, and non-renewable:

I’m talking bout, TIME, sucka!

Every day, if we’re not careful, we can spend our most valuable non-renewable resource on things that just don’t freaking matter:

  • In a job that we hate, or one that doesn’t fulfill us.
  • With people that don’t bring us happiness instead of with those that do
  • Being angry or mad at things that don’t matter
  • Not doing the things we actually want to accomplish.

Over the past few years, after losing many friends at young ages, I’ve started to remember death daily. It’s a bit morbid, but also a bit inspiring and hopeful.

One thing is for sure: it’s changed how I attack each day, remembering that time is not infinite, so I might as well focus on the important.

Memento MorI

dominoes

Back in the day (which was a Wednesday), remembering death was a crucial part of life in the Roman Empire.

As pointed out by Brett over on Art of Manliness:

“The phrase “Memento Mori” (aka “Remember death”) is believed to originate from an ancient Roman tradition in which a servant would be tasked with standing behind a victorious general as he paraded though town.

As the general basked in the glory of the cheering crowds, the servant would whisper in the general’s ear: “Respice post te! Hominem te esse memento! Memento mori!” = “Look behind you! Remember that you are but a man! Remember that you will die!”

In other words, no matter what you do or how you choose to spend your time, one day you will die. Regardless of what you accomplish or don’t accomplish, regardless of what you think happens after you die, at some point your world will get shut down.

We’re all the same, whether we die with a billion dollars or zero bucks, once our clock stops ticking. I think we can all agree that we are interested in living the best life on this planet we can, and happiness and meaning are more important than anything else.

Keeping death in the forefront of our mind can be a powerful tool. So can remembering World of Warcraft.

The end of the World (of Warcraft)

wowserver

Did you hear the news last week?

World of Warcraft, the world’s most famous persistently online video game, shut down a rogue server, meaning that characters who had been created on that server would cease to exist, after years and years of playtime. If you’ve ever played an online game that you’ve invested significant hours into, you know how devastating this can feel, even if you haven’t played in a while: a character that you have dumped THOUSANDS of hours into will no longer be playable. It can feel, oddly, like quite a loss.

In fact, it can even feel like an “end of world” scenario.

In fitting nerdy behavior, hundreds upon hundreds of players logged in to say goodbye to each other, to reminisce, and to say goodbye to their virtual lives on this server. Somebody even made a video to commemorate the occasion, with fitting music:

I have to imagine a significant number of people logged back in for the first time in a long time once they found out their server was being shut down – they realized they were “down to the last quarter” in the arcade, so to speak – and wanted to join and take a few final meaningful steps to memorialize their time there. (Note: if you are about to debate how this was not an official server, you’re missing the point. The point is about realizing loss.)

It’s funny how being more aware of our time can spur us into action:

In games, it’s the constant threat of a “game over” screen, a timer counting down, or a blinking single heart container letting you know you’re one hit away from death. Like hearing “Yellow Wizard is about to die!” in Gauntlet or Gauntlet Legends

In movies, it’s the moment in disaster movies when characters who know they’re going to die, come together for some philosophical pinnings about life and what they’ve done, explaining regrets and reflecting honestly.

In life, its those that are diagnosed with terminal illness and who finally decide to start doing what they really want in life – perhaps for the first time ever. The trivial crap is immediately forgotten and the important jumps to the front of the line.

When these time limitations are thrust upon us, we cut through the layers upon layers of things that just don’t matter, and start to see our lives and ourselves with more clarity.

Because most of us in life don’t have a finish line that we can see, we don’t have an end of days movie event or end of game server reset on the horizon, we live our lives as if our time is infinite. We say “I’ll get to it eventually.” Or “When things settle down.” Or “Someday I’m going to do blah blah blah.”

And then we don’t.

That’s why starting today, I want you to remember death.

Remember Death Today.

contemplate death

We have to remember death, because it can come for us at any moment. The server shut down can happen without any advance notice.

My goal for you with Nerd Fitness is to help you wake up excited and go to bed proud. Surprisingly, remembering and contemplating death is a profoundly optimistic practice – not the morbid thing it sounds like.

Time is the most valuable (and non-renewable) resource on the planet, infinitely more valuable than money. However, because we feel like we have infinite time, we readily throw it away, wish it moved faster, or waste it on things that don’t bring us challenge, growth, or happiness.

When we get stuck in the muck, it’s hard to see the big picture:

  • Getting a promotion at a job you hate will not make you suddenly start to like it.
  • Buying a bigger house or faster car will not bring you true joy if the rest of your life is unhappy.
  • It might feel tempting to postpone time with your family/kids for work or the pursuit of more money or something seemingly urgent but ultimately unimportant.

We are going to die, and we far too often get lost in the details or the rat race because we forget to remember death.

Ask anybody on their deathbed what they would give to spend more time alive on this planet, and the answer is always “everything.” They don’t give a shit about the job they had or the money they spent. They care about their memories, time with loved ones, and living true to themselves.

Today, I want you to remember death.

It’s a touchy subject, and one that’s easier to block out in place of any other challenges we’re faced with on a day to day. I find it helpful to keep the big picture in perspective. Tim Ferriss’s most recent podcast with B.J. Miller, a palliative care physician at Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco, discusses how studying death and spending time with those on their death bed can teach us how to actually enjoy life.

I find it helps to have four things daily:

  1. I spend my work hours on something meaningful that challenges me. We all have to pay bills and have responsibilities, but we don’t have to be miserable doing it.
  2. I spend some of my spare time on a hobby that is fun for me: learning a language, playing an instrument, dancing, exercise, etc.
  3. I spend quality time with people who are important to me. Significant others, family, or friends.
  4. I spend some time being grateful for the things I DO have. Just five minutes at the end of the day recalling the things I’m thankful for.

We can all practice 2-4 starting today, and I encourage you to do so.

However, if you’re somebody who struggles with #1, finding meaningful work and not hating Mondays, it’s going to take a bit more work.

Waking up dreading the day you’re about to have sucks, and far too many live their lives in a countdown to “the weekend” or some arbitrary date in the future when things “should be better” instead of actively working towards meaningful work.

Contrary to popular belief and what other miserable people might tell you, it doesn’t make you entitled to want/expect more out of your career. It just means you want more. You don’t need to “suck it up” and do something you hate until you retire/die – but it does mean you’re going to need to dig deep and make tough decisions about what’s important to you:

  • Moving to a new city or smaller apartment, or eating out less. Cutting your expenses to nothing and opting-out of the rat race.
  • Learning a new skill or changing careers and starting at the bottom of the ladder.
  • Doing what you want for YOU, not what others expect of you.

If tomorrow isn’t a guarantee, why would you spend most of today being miserable and wishing it was over? This is purposely throwing away our most valuable resource!

To borrow a quote from my favorite movie, Shawshank Redemption, “Get busy livin’, or get busy dying.” Which one are you doing right now?

Remember death, my dear Rebel friend. This game doesn’t last forever. Let’s live lives we’re proud of, dancing in the graveyards to celebrate our lives once they’re over.

See you at the end; I’ll be the one in dancing shoes.

-Steve

###

photo: Thomas Hawk: Game Over, Guiseppe Milo: Man by the sea

Get The Rebel Starter Kit

Enter your email and we’ll send it right over.

  • The 15 mistakes you don’t want to make.
  • The most effective diet and why it works.
  • Complete your first workout today, no gym required.
  • These are the tools you need to start your quest.
Woman
Man
  • Hasteur

    Urm Steve, that hyperbole about a World of Warcraft server is so far out in the sticks that the mountain men are looking at you funny.

    Nostarilias was trying to being back the concept of the original World of Warcraft experience. This was not an official server hosted by Blizzard, but a private copyright infringing fan creation server. The sword of Damocles was hanging over each players head every single day because of the copyright infringment.

  • Michael

    Blizzard (parent co of World of Warcraft) was defending their intellectual property rights against criminals. Whether you agree with copyright, registered trademark, intellectual property law is beside the point. You cannot steal someone else’s intellectual property and use it however you want.

    Other than that point. This was an awesome article. Thanks

  • You said “Time is the most valuable (and non-renewable) resource on the planet” – this being Nerd Fitness, maybe you should say “non-renewable (for now)” 😉

  • kdizz

    Steve jobs said:
    “Remembering you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There’s no reason not to follow your heart.”

    If you haven’t read his commencement speech at Stanford, do it immediately. I read it once every year or so, whenever I need a kick in the pants. It will make you want to live.

  • Sam Ashen

    Regarding the World of Warcraft reference: /played

  • Victoria Clemmons

    “Imagine I told you today that you had a wallet with $1,000 in it. You could spend it on whatever or whoever you want. But you wake up again tomorrow with a new $1,000, whether you spend none or all of it.

    What would you choose to do?

    I’d guess you’ll spend it! You might spend it on an experience, something you’ve always wanted to buy, or maybe you’d spend it on others.”

    This seems a bit misleading if the topic is time; it implies that the wallet with the cash is a renewable resource and the cash can be spent or banked at will, the person possessing said wallet knowing that the cash will be renewed every day, whereas time is a (presumed) nonrenewable resource (unless one day science proves otherwise). Other than that, the article is spot on.

  • Dana Myles

    I think about death entirely too much if you ask me but I get what you’re saying here. I’ve gone for the dream job on numerous occasions and each time, I get the “we’ve decided to go with someone else, but thanks.” Okay, in the meantime I’m working to turn my passion into a lucrative business so I can ditch the soul draining gig. Guess what, no sales means no money to invest in building business to attract more sales so that’s going SLOWLY (the clock is ticking, eh) which means if I wish to maintain my habit of living indoors, enjoying food on a regular basis, and covering the other basic needs I have (mind you, I cut cable and internet; I don’t shop on the regular, cut how often I eat out by 50% and more…I’m living pretty frugally), I have to keep some income coming in.

    When I read articles like this, I get frustrated. Am I a chicken for not being willing to live in my truck while I make a go at building my passion into a life sustaining business I love? Will I die before I can make the changes I want to make in my life? Everything takes money it seems – the coaching, books, programs, etc. people say will propel me to the “next level” – no one’s giving that away for free; the tools I need in order to effectively do it myself (website hosting for starters, let’s not even talk about software or gadgets needed to do a video; thrift stores may be cheap but they don’t take good intentions when it’s time to check out). Oh, and let’s not get started talking about the dream trips I want to take (and thankfully have taken) So, I need money right? Then I gotta keep the soul draining gig which feels like a cop out at the end of the day and then I’m right back to the beginning of this rant.

    I think you’re spot on – people shouldn’t wait to do what they really want to do, YOLO and all that, but realistically, I don’t see how to “live a life I’m proud of” without having to make some major compromises (which I’m not so proud of) along the way.

  • gson1192

    Excellent article!!! And, much needed – for me at least!

  • run_brown_wolf

    Dude, you guys. If anyone here hasn’t logged into Netflix and searched for World of Tomorrow, stop what you’re doing right now and do that. Or wait until you’re somewhere you don’t mind having FEELZ, ’cause this little sixteen minute animated film will make you have them; all of them.

    I thought of this film while reading this article for reasons that will become apparent when you see it. Make a coffee and give sixteen minutes of your finite lifetime to this experience. At the fourteen minute mark, I was reminded of the importance of staying awake and the fugacious nature of consciousness.
    OMG, so good.

  • mhage049

    Hey Steve. I have not yet posted on your blogs, but today I felt the need to say something. Whether you see this or not, is not important. It’s more for me.

    There seem to be a few naysayers, but I loved this article! I’m pretty much bawling right now thinking about this! I have the opportunity to take a job that could be something amazing, leaving my soul draining job behind. It would allow me to spend more time doing the important things…like spending quality time with my family. Quite literally in this sense as it is my mom’s business. She recently became CEO of a company she has been working at for years. She made several big changes over recent years…she lost 150 pounds, left my dad (which should have happened years ago), and climbed her way to a position which she excels in and is just loving life. I want that and am reminded I can do it everyday by her. I have been very scared about leaving my comfy job as everyone knows…CHANGE IS SCARY AS F*CK! I read this article and it has perfectly expressed how I have been feeling! Perfect timing Steve! Thank you so much. This may have just given me the courage I need. 🙂

  • mhage049

    Hey Steve. I have not yet posted on your blogs, but today I felt the need to say something. Whether you see this or not, is not important. It’s more for me.

    There seem to be a few naysayers, but I loved this article! I’m pretty much bawling right now thinking about this! I have the opportunity to take a job that could be something amazing, leaving my soul draining job behind. It would allow me to spend more time doing the important things…like spending quality time with my family. Quite literally in this sense as it is my mom’s business. She recently became CEO of a company she has been working at for years. She made several big changes over recent years…she lost 150 pounds, left my dad (which should have happened years ago), and climbed her way to a position which she excels in and is just loving life. I want that and am reminded I can do it everyday by her. I have been very scared about leaving my comfy job as everyone knows…CHANGE IS SCARY AS F*CK! I read this article and it has perfectly expressed how I have been feeling! Perfect timing Steve! Thank you so much. This may have just given me the courage I need to level up my life 🙂

  • Alicia

    weird timing of the article with the news about Prince’s death! And he seemed to live a pretty great life, not just the rich & famous aspect, but the playing and writing music all the time aspect.

  • Kira Blaski

    Steve,

    I’ve been a subscriber for quite some time but this is the first time I’ve ever felt compelled to post a comment.

    You couldn’t be more right. Thinking about the frailty of life every day urges us to live. After the birth of my son, I remember every day that everything in my life that is wonderful could be taken away from me at any moment, and it forces me to worry less about things that don’t matter and focus instead on what does. Like spending quality time with my family.

    Not morbid at all.

  • Michael Leonard

    Time isn’t really non-renewable is it? I mean, time is perpetual: YOU cease to exist.

    “Save the planet? The planet has been here for billions of years, the planet will be fine. WE’RE f**ked!” – George Carlin

  • Rachel Ralston

    This punched me right in the feels.

  • DocRuth

    The part about not staying in a career that’s making you miserable really spoke to me. I practiced medicine until about 5 years ago, but doing so was burning me out and turning me into a person that I hated. I was having panic attacks in the parking lot trying to convince myself to get out of my car and go into the office. I had a moment one evening when I just idly wondered to myself what would happen if I drove off of a bridge. Coupled with a co-worker telling me about how he needed antidepressants to get through the day? That made things super clear for me.

    My parents and siblings thought I was nuts – all of that time, money, and energy invested in getting through med school and residency and I was going to ‘throw it away?’

    But I made a switch to working in the electronic medical record industry, where I use that education and knowledge in more of a data-nerdy way, because I enjoy doing that. It’s fun, and there are nifty logic puzzles I get to puzzle through with developers.

    You’re right, life is too short to be miserable.

  • Jamie

    I like your four daily recommendations, and I wrote them down, as I frequently do with your posts. 🙂 At the end of the list, I wrote, “5. Don’t have it all together (and don’t try to)” — because so often I’m trying to follow lists of what to do to have a good life, and I forget that it’s okay to not have it all together — and that I never will be in control of everything, nor do I need to in order to live a good life!

  • “Significant others”? Damn Steve, it sounds like you get around.

  • Like several other commenters, I’ve been reading the blog for a while, but this is my first comment (I think). This was a really good post, though I’m sure the water in my eyes is just from these damn allergies…
    I feel like my whole life is spent waiting. Waiting for the right moment for things to be ready… But, I don’t know what exactly I’m waiting for. What will mean I’m ready? Nothing really, I guess it’s just waiting on ME to be ready. But, part of my problem to is that I don’t know really know what I want. So, I just keep going to my crappy (though well paying) job, expecting to just know one morning what it is that I really want to be doing. But, I don’t think it works that way. I need to start doing things – I’ll never know what it is that I enjoy if I don’t just start trying new stuff.
    I’ll wait until tomorrow though…

  • Zathras1

    “Run out of time? Cannot run out of time, there is infinite time. YOU are finite, Zathras is finite, THIS is wrong tool…..no, no, not good, never use this.”

    That fine philosopher, Zathras, from the Babylon 5 episode, “War without End, pt 2”

  • Harvey

    I would really like to make a big change. I’m an office clerk, lowest in the typical office hierarchy. I feel like a complete failure and this job is a reminder of how pathetic I am. Has anyone else been in this position? I’d like to quit and start leveling up. Financially, I’m pretty solid for my age.

  • Jake Jordan

    I got to say, with regards to the World of Warcraft mention. Those players knew exactly what they were signing up for, they knew that putting hundreds of hours into something, could potentially be a COMPLETE WASTE, and now they have to suffer the consequences. Although it probably wasn’t a total waste, after you consider the vast amount of fun these guys would of had making new friends and interacting, something the current WoW doesn’t really give to you anymore.

    Me personally, I won’t be giving my money to Blizzard anymore, why? Because they don’t deserve it, they don’t care that we have to put up with absolute noobs in our BG groups, that have instant character boosted just so Blizzard can have their flash cars and flash houses. I’m not putting up with it.

    I am still playing the game without a subscription too, I’ve just been farming 10 minutes a day with this: http://gamesinfun.com/hayden-hawkes-secret-gold-guide. And that pays for my WoW Tokens lol GG Blizzard no more money for you.

  • Captain Chubby

    Hm, think I’m gonna have to disagree with you o this one, Steve. Love the idea of living life with death at the forefront of your thoughts! But as for the job part of it, I don’t think that applies to a lot of different groups of people (those supporting a family for example). I don’t have a family yet to support, but I do stay at a junky job. I support adults with disabilities directly in their homes with daily living skills. I’ve left work covered in bruises, I’ve worked an 18 hour shift followed by a 10 hour not 6 hours later, a 50+ week is not uncommon, I’m always mad at staff and management, I’m always looking forward to my next day off, and I get paid just barely more than minimum wage. There are others in this field who definitely have it worse than I do, but the point is I would not call it a job I look forward to. It’s not even like I feel like I’m that good at it or “born to do it.” And I would never trade it for a fun job. I think it’s an underappreciated, thankless job, but its importance cannot be overstated. Not enough people do it or do it with heart. I’ve tried to base my life and career off Mother Teresa’s teachings, especially the idea of giving until it hurts. Not everyone should apply this specific teaching to his job, but for me, that teaching trumps any reason you have for why I should I get a job that I enjoy. To be overly clear: getting a fun job could be a great idea for many, but for some it’s unnecessary to pursue one.

  • Mark

    Love that.

  • Mark

    I love this, Steve. Thank you. I suggested you write about Momento Mori last week when you asked for ideas on Facebook and here we are…! Bonus that you added a discussion from Tim Ferriss’s podcast. That episode was fantastic.

    Keep up the good work and thanks again.

  • KariVery

    Some thoughts: Is it a nice place to work, are people respectful of you, and do you feel like you can do the job? If so, don’t feel pathetic! Try office-clerking the sh^t out of that job and then after you feel like you’ve mastered all of the skills necessary to do your job as WELL as you possibly can, start looking for something better. The reason we older folks say things like “you have to start somewhere,” is because you do. Not many start out at the top, most have to put their time in and climb that ladder. You willl get there! Have faith in your self and your abilities, and keep doing your best every day.

    If, on the other hand, it’s a bad place to work, co-workers take advantage and disrespect you, or you dont have the skills or get necessary training to do the job, get out of there as soon as you can. There’s no point in working for people like that – you will find something better. And, you will have earned job skills in your present position that willl help you get a better job. 🙂

  • JLR

    Amazing article Steve! Right now I’m having a tough time with my career because I reached to the conclusion that I don’t want to spend my whole life doing what I had being doing for years. Reflect about my time, my life and my future make me ponder the options and keep searching what I love

  • James Dengel

    He is simply saying that you get an amount of time each day tomorrow you get another day weather you wanted to spend today’s time or not.

  • VR

    Well, for what it’s worth, I just walked out halfway through a theatre performance I wasn’t enjoying. It had been expensive, but I figured I needn’t waste my time as well as my money!

  • Amanda

    This article is exactly what I needed to hear right now. I have been living in fear of what might happen if I change my own status quo, even though I KNOW that I would be happier with the changes. Sometimes you can’t see past the idea of “What if I fail?” It’s especially difficult when you feel you have no support system to build you up when you start to slip back into that abyss of mediocrity – the one that whispers insidious little doubts to you like “You’re doing just fine, why make the changes? You’re caring for your kids as best you can, so what if you’re not happy right now?” Too many of my family members were lost too soon, and a lot of days death is a spectre nearby in my mind. Perhaps it’s time to do something positive with that. Thank you, Steve.

  • Pingback: Civil War Week: Stick To Your Guns Like Cap | Nerd Fitness()

  • Jess

    Good article, Steve. An important concept in video games is being able to adapt, change, and take risks to enjoy your time within the game, yet no one seems to want to apply that to real life! I’m only in my early 20s and already people think I’m done changing, and I’m not. Just because I’m changing in a way that may seem like a decline from others doesn’t mean it’s a decline for me. It’s more like an improvement.

  • ToGusDS

    Such a nice post.
    It’s a very nice zen perspective, you only live once, whether you like it or not, so make it worth it!
    The Born for this book is really cool! A lot of advices to improve the way you do the things
    Thanks for sharing

  • Pingback: The Matrix Has You Prisoner! Take The 2-Week Break Free Challenge. | Nerd Fitness()

  • thank you

    Have you been concerned about how they can possibly keep your motivation to lose weight and just work on the body that has been waiting for?
    http://www.fitnessmic.net/2016/06/how-to-lose-weight-in-only-week.html

  • Ann McNally

    I’m just now coming back to this article to post some thoughts – this article REALLY spoke to me. So much so that I printed it, highlighted the line “Time is the most valuable (and non-renewable) resource on the planet, infinitely more valuable than money.” and look at it every day.
    My brother-in-law, at 60 years old, just passed away in May unexpectedly. It left his wife, sons, mother & dad, siblings and countless friends, co-workers etc shocked and forever saddened.
    Our time here is so limited and short, we have to remember to make the most of every day, every opportunity and live life!
    Thank you, Steve, for the reminder to think about death everyday!

  • Pingback: videos()

  • Pingback: zdporn.com()

  • Pingback: TS Escorts()

  • Pingback: other()