I have woken up every day of the last 30 days, thinking it was my last day on Earth and this is what happened.
[If you’re already confused, go back and read my post “One Year to Live.”]
#1. My goals became very clear.
Follow your instincts. That’s where true wisdom manifests itself. — Oprah Winfrey
For the first time in my life, it was very easy to prioritize. I enjoy my work, so I kept doing that. I enjoy writing, so I kept doing that. There have been other things over the years that I have tried to be good at, but really only enjoy when the mood strikes and not necessarily in a daily and habitual manner. For example, cooking or playing guitar: I can do both — neither particularly well, but I enjoy them on an occasional basis — when it’s just me and just for the heck of it. So if I felt like it, I’d pick my guitar up and play a song I used to practice for 10 minutes or I’d whip up one of my made-up chickpea recipes. There is pretty much no such a thing as obligations when you have one day to live and nothing to prove to the world.
#2. I found myself felling lucky to be alive.
Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough. — Oprah Winfrey
The exercise became more of a practice in feeling lucky and therefore automatically having a calm sense of trust that everything was going to work out. All of a sudden, I had more patience for getting results. I was more grateful for everything that I had and every little thing that happened to me that I found myself unrelentingly happy.
#3. My efficiency doubled at work and in everything else I did.
What I know is, is that if you do work that you love, and the work fulfills you, the rest will come. — Oprah Winfrey
After all, if all I had left was one more day, then I wanted to squeeze every bit out of that time! I literally had no time to waste on inefficiency or dwelling in frustration. The goal was to do everything I needed to and wanted to, just in less time. I began to delegate some tasks. I also found a space away from distractions — as much as possible for a surgical resident.
#4. I talked to my parents every day.
I think people who have good parents come into the world with a strength, yes, and an advantage. — Oprah Winfrey
I love my parents and they know that. It used to be that when I got busy at school or with work, I would just go days without actually talking to them. We would use text messaging to make sure everyone was ok. But thinking I wasn’t going to live to the next day made me realize that just hearing their voices is an incredible part of my life.
#5. Gratitude is my prayer.
The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate. — Oprah Winfrey
I was in fourth grade when I first felt certain that there is a higher being that has power over the universe. I have prayed to that higher being since then. Usually, my prayer involved asking for something for myself or the people I loved or for the world. During this challenge, I realized that being grateful for everything that I have and everything that happens around me is a deeper connection to that higher power than any prayer I had done in the past.
The caveat/bonus lesson!
Being human means you will make mistakes. And you will make mistakes, because failure is God’s way of moving you in another direction. — Oprah Winfrey
Approximately half way through this month, I had to switch from working during the day to working at night. During the first two nights, I was miserable. I couldn’t sleep during the day. I couldn’t sleep during the night. All of a sudden, I wasn’t sure why I was doing what I was doing or what I wanted in my life. No matter how often I told myself that it was my last day/night on earth or that I should count myself lucky to be here, it simply had no effect. I functioned well at work, but it was really hard to get my brain to feel happy. After a couple of nights, I started being able to sleep during the day. And everything resumed as stated above. This little exercise proved how important it was for me to sleep! It can be hard to come by with the schedule of a surgical resident working on too many projects at once. I hadn’t really ever appreciated the value of sleep in my mental health and productivity, but I guess that appreciation is the other thing that happened!
Thank you for reading. And, as always,
stay unrelentingly grateful and patient,
and inspire happiness and productivity.
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