June 3, 2015

Do we need near-death to appreciate life?

As I write this, I’m about 20 pages from finishing Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. If the tagline “Medicine and What Matters in the End” sparks your interest, I’d highly recommend reading or listening to it.

One section of the book explores why, as we get older, we gain more of an appreciation for everyday pleasures and our relationships. While we’re young, we’re much more focused on “getting to where we want to be” versus “treasuring the little things”. As Gawande writes “…if we find this [appreciating everyday pleasures] more fulfilling, then why do we take so long to do it? Why do we wait until we’re old?” It turns out, according to socioemotional selectivity theory, it has nothing to do with age but rather how much time we think we have left!

On MTNmeister, we’ve hosted dozens of people who have been close to death. They’ve survived 100 foot free-falls, battles with cancer, serious head injuries, and freak accidents. They’ve lost their vision, mobility, spouses, and best friends. These experiences can change what really matters. We hear it all the time! “Appreciate every day that you’re given.” “Don’t take life for granted!”

Do we need near-death to appreciate life?

Photo Credit:Trevor Thomas

After unexpectedly losing his vision, Trevor Thomas set out to reclaim his life by solo thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. We talked with Trevor in episode 68.

What about the rest of us? Can we get to that place of appreciation without facing near-death? I don’t know. I sure haven’t reached it. I find myself thinking about the future far more than appreciating the little things, and I certainly won’t be pursuing anything life-threatening in order to realize the latter. What about you?


Questions? Comments? Let's hear 'em.