Super Habit #19: Live Like It’s Your Last Breath

In May of 2018, I was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder. It’s a slow-progressing blood cancer called polycythemia vera. Although my doctor and I had suspected a blood problem, a diagnosis is always hard to wrap your head around. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my diagnosis, it’s Super Habit #19: I’m going to live like it’s my last breath.

Part of my changing voice over the last year is due to my diagnosis. When you find out you basically have a terminal illness, (albeit a long prognosis), it makes you think. Who cares what people think about you? When you have a limited amount of time to express yourself, you’d better cut to the chase and say the things you really want to say.

Stop Holding Back and Live a Little

You’re holding something back. Aren’t you? I know you are. Because we all do it. Whether it’s out of fear or a lack of confidence, we tend to stop short of some of the things we really want to say and do. Stop doing that. Who gives a shit what others think? It’s your life, so live it!

There are some great advantages to throwing caution to the wind and living as if it you were taking your last breath:

  1. You live in the here and now: The past is past. There’s nothing you can do about the stupid things you did. Just learn and move on. The future is yet to come, so screw worrying. The truth is that bad shit will happen. Bad shit happens to everybody. But there’s nothing we can do about that now. Just live in the moment and be at peace.
  2. You learn to love yourself: Too often we hate our own guts. That’s usually connected to our past mistakes and our future fears. When you live in the present you can be kind to yourself. Give yourself credit for who you are at this exact moment. You’re not perfect, but neither is the person you see as perfect. In fact, behind closed doors, they might just hate their own frickin’ guts.
  3. You learn to appreciate others: When you live for the moment, you’ll begin to see the little things around you more clearly. You’ll see others for who they are. You’ll note the hardships that others are dealing with. You’ll see the kindness that others extend. This will make you more grateful.
  4. You overcome obstacles: When you live in the present moment, you’ll learn to think faster. You’ll find that you have more courage to deal with life’s little messes.

Your Next Breath Might Really Be Your Last

The chances that you’re going to have a heart attack or get hit by a bus in the next second are slim. But sooner or later you will take your last breath. Everything will expire. With this in mind, don’t hesitate to live the life you want to live. Now. Right. Fucking. Now!

I know as well as anybody else that we can’t just snap our fingers and live exactly how we want. If that were the case, I’d already be retired by the sea writing books and producing music to my heart’s content. But what we can do is to do our best to accept the place where we are, and make an effort each moment to work toward the place we want to be.

I recently sold my house and paid off all my debt so that I could be more free, ready to move at a moment’s notice. Then I traded my car in for something a little more luxurious and comfortable. (But it still gets 30-45 mpg.) I’ve gone back to a vintage stereo system and started buying vinyl again. I’ll be traveling more often. Heck, maybe I’ll even take a trip to Iceland, a place I’d really love to experience. I’m going to live life on my own terms.

Practice Super Habit #19 for Life

Success is not all about position and money. It’s also about being true to yourself. Of course, most of us want some kind of worldly success, something we can measure our lives by. But the greatest success is not measured, but lived each day, each moment, and with every blessed breath.

If there’s something you’d really like to do, but you’ve been afraid, or concerned what others might think, I encourage you to say screw it. Do what you want! Do it when you want! Just don’t do anything too dangerous or stupid. I don’t want your next breath to be your last.