Scary title for a blog post, isn’t it?
I hope so.
In reality, we should all fear death, but not in the way that you may think.
What I’m referring to is dying before we’re dead.
Sadly, many people die thousands of little deaths before they finally make it official.
Without any doubt, experiencing those tiny deaths on a daily basis is not only extremely painful, but those tiny deaths also make it so much harder for us to live our best lives before we reach the grave for good.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, those tiny deaths could also cause us to reach the grave much sooner than necessary too.
This path doesn’t have to be for us.
If you’ve ever experienced that sickening feeling when a tiny piece of you dies by not fully honoring yourself, this post is for you.
Below are 7 ways that many people experience death before reaching the grave.
If you’re experiencing any of these, commit to making today the day where you fully reclaim your life.
The man/woman staring back at you in your bathroom mirror will thank you immensely for it.
1. Keeping Toxic People in Your Life
The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.” -Maya Angelou
This silent killer is listed first because it can wreak havoc in so many areas of our lives if we don’t handle it quickly and with ruthless precision.
This might sound harsh, but toxic people are like a disease.
Seriously, there’s no need to sugarcoat this for a minute longer. If there has ever been a topic in this world’s history that needs realness, it’s this one.
Speaking of keeping it real–no sane person would ever allow cancer, or any other toxic illness, to roam through their bodies untreated, right?
We must view toxic people in the exact same way.
Just like cancer, the best solution and hope for recovery with toxic people is complete removal.
If you have determined that a person in your life is toxic and deeply harming your life, we have to accept that it doesn’t matter who it is—your mom, your spouse, your boss, your childhood friend, or anyone else—they need to be removed from your life without apologies or hesitation.
Failure to do so could cause you to slowly die inside long before it’s your time.
Simply put, some people need to be loved from a distance.
2. Believing the Naysayers
Someone’s opinion of you does not have to be your reality.” –Les Brown
Haters, Dream Stealers, Naysayers—it doesn’t matter what we choose to call them, their deadly effect is still the same.
As most of you know by now, dealing with haters is fairly simple process. But it’s much more challenging if the naysayers are “well-meaning” people who we actually like or love.
Perhaps it’s time to look at this “well-meaning” stuff a little deeper than we have before.
What if you could have left your dysfunctional relationship and found true love, but you believed your well-meaning friends who told you that all of the good men/women are already taken?
What if you could have reclaimed your health and fitness, but you believed your well-meaning family members who reminded you of your many past failures losing weight, so you quit before you even started?
What if you could have left your horrendous job that is causing you numerous sleepless nights, but you didn’t leave because you believed the well-meaning experts who advised you not to quit your job in this economy?
Here’s the truth of the matter: Advice from anyone (yes, including our loved ones) that would drive us in the opposite direction of our dreams isn’t “well-meaning,” it’s dangerous.
Your dreams are here for a reason. They are your life blood. They don’t belong to your spouse, your parents, your kids, your friends, your pastor, or your coworkers—they belong to you.
You don’t have justify your life dreams to anyone.
If nothing else, please believe this: Trying to silence that persistent voice inside of all of us that is nudging us to go after our best lives, will not work.
It will never work.
Doing so will only cause us to die a little bit inside each time we try to smother its impassioned cry to choose more for our lives.
3. Being Happy Later
Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.” –Jim Rohn
Few things are more effective at slowly sucking away our life force than making the devastating choice to delay our happiness.
Unfortunately, many people make this choice on a daily basis.
They wait until they leave their loveless relationship and find true love before they give themselves permission to be happy.
They wait until their bathroom scale, bank account, or amount of Twitter followers displays a certain number before they give themselves permission to be happy.
They wait until their bully boss either gets fired or quits before they give themselves permission to be happy.
Sadly, that is not how happiness works. Not even close, actually.
Chasing happiness outside of ourselves is like eating cotton candy for energy.
Sure, it might make us feel energized or happy temporarily, but it will never nourish us as deeply or for as long as we thought it would.
So, we keep chasing happiness, and if so, just like stuffing our faces with cotton candy for a temporary high, we’ll keep slowing dying in the process.
There is a much better way.
We can reject the fairy tale of being “happy later,” and make the life-affirming choice to be happy now.
It may not always be easy, but the effort will always be more than worth it.
True, long-lasting happiness will never be found outside of ourselves.
That’s because real happiness is, and always will be, an inside job.
The good news is that for this job, you’ll always be the boss.
4. Chronically Complaining
You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.” –Shirley Chisholm
There is no habit in the world that is more useless and destructive to our overall health and well-being than the life-destroying act of chronically complaining.
Not only is it bad for our health (mental and otherwise), it negatively affects our ability to creatively solve the problems in our lives, it makes us dumber (yes, for real), and maybe worst of all, it is also damaging to the health of the people who are stuck listening to our complaints on a daily basis.
If you are addicted to the life-stealing habit of chronically complaining, there may be no better gift that you can give yourself (and to the poor folks who are stuck listening to your complaining) right now than the gift of “Complaining Detox.”
Seriously, try it.
Challenge yourself after you’re done reading this to go 24-hours, a full weekend, or even an entire week without complaining.
Trust me, you’ll be shocked by the results if you commit to it.
As a former chronic complainer myself, I can say with confidence that not only can a “Complaining Detox” completely change your life, but it could even save it too.
5. Not Valuing Time
What you do today is important because you’re exchanging a day of your life for it.” –Anonymous
This life-stealer isn’t nearly as obvious as the other points listed above, but left unchecked, it can deeply affect your life in a very negative way.
Time is unlike any resource in the world.
It can’t be multiplied, borrowed, or recovered after you lose it. Time can only be spent. That’s it. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.
This has to be done now.
Unfortunately, I used to be the guy who believed that everything could be done later.
I could always manage my finances later. I could always go the the gym and eat healthier later. I could always tell my loved ones how much I cared about them later. I could always be happier later. I could always take control of my life later.
It was the insane and misguided idea of “later” that kept me broke, out of shape, unhealthy (emotionally, mentally, and physically), and totally unhappy.
In other words, all that “later” did for me was keep me miserable now and slowly dying inside.
Speaking of dying, have you ever spoken to someone who is on their deathbed?
If you haven’t, trust me on this: One thing that a dying person will never tell you is to put off your dreams, happiness, and best life until “later.”
Our lives are meant to be lived now.
Please don’t wait until you’re on your deathbed to realize this. At that point it truly is too late.
There is no “Rewind” button in life.
We cannot get those hours or those years back once they’re gone. That’s why it is critical that we make them count while we’re here.
If we choose to waste our money, we’re only temporarily out of cash—sure, that sucks, but we can recover from that.
But if we choose to waste our time, then we’re actually losing a precious part of our lives.
Sadly, there’s no recovering from that.
6. Living in Fear
A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once.” –William Shakespeare
There is no need to sugarcoat this at all: fear is an absolutely life-destroying force.
More than any force in the universe, it has caused millions of people to die millions of tiny and needless deaths on a daily basis.
When I say “fear,” I’m not talking about healthy fears, like the ones that will stop you from doing something stupid like swallowing a lit firecracker or jumping into shark-infested waters while holding a raw steak.
This is solely about the unhealthy fears that speak to you in a way that arouses intense self-doubt.
“You’re really going to give a presentation at the next all-staff meeting? If you fail, you’ll look like a complete idiot in front of the entire company. Don’t do it.”
“Remember the last time when you tried to ask a girl for a date and you got completely shot down in a horrifically embarrassing fashion? Don’t do it.”
“You want to start your own business/blog/insert awesome project here? People far more talented than you are have failed miserably when they tried. Don’t do it.”
I wish that I could tell you that I could make the voices go away. I wish that I could tell you that it’s possible to eradicate fear from your life forever.
Unfortunately, fear isn’t going anywhere, and that’s okay.
Being “fearless” is a hot, steaming pile of B.S. There is not one person walking the face of this earth who is fearless.
As I’ve said many times before, courage is not the absence of fear, it’s about feeling the fear and doing the damn thing anyway.
It’s cool to feel fear. What’s not cool is allowing that fear to control you.
Believe me, living our best lives is going to require us to do some scary stuff.
Count on it.
That’s because inside of the cave that we fear, lies the treasure that we seek .
7. Failing to Take Personal Responsibility
The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. The gift of life is yours. It’s an amazing journey, and you alone are responsible for the quality of it.” –Dan Zadra
The most important point of all, and quite possibly the hardest one to master, has been left for last.
There is little to no hope of avoiding a slow death at the hands of the previous 6 points above if you fail to master this one.
We can all agree that none of our lives are flawless, right?
I’m confident that in less than 5 minutes, we could all list at least 20 issues that we would like to improve, change, or remove from our daily lives–I know that I could.
Truthfully, that’s okay.
What’s not okay though, is choosing to make excuses or blame others for why those issues are in our lives in the first place.
Doing so is basically stating that those things and/or other people have power over the quality of our lives.
Simply put, we’re either giving our power away by making excuses, or we’re keeping our power by stating confidently that we are in full control of our lives.
One option is life-affirming. However, the other option will kill our lives and our dreams faster than we have ever imagined.
Accepting 100% responsibility for the awesomeness (or lack of it) in our lives is what true heroes do every single day. We may not be able to control the events in our lives, but we can always choose our response.
Just like Andy Dufresne said so brilliantly in the epic movie, The Shawshank Redemption, we can either, “Get busy living or get busy dying. ”
As always, the choice is ours.
Luckily in this case, the choice is a very simple one.
Choose to live.
How are you choosing to live while you’re alive?
This post was written by Shola Richards, a corporate trainer, incurable optimist and writer who is committed to changing the world by helping as many people as possible to live and work with more positivity. You can find him on his blog, The Positivity Solution, Facebook, and Twitter working passionately to rid the world of all of the things that make your life less than epic.