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Memento Mori: Remember that you are mortal

Updated: Sep 11

If you have a chance to redo your life, what would it be like?

If you are still in your 20’s, there’s a slight chance you haven’t asked yourself this question yet. But perhaps when you reach your twilight years, you will reflect and look back on all the years that have passed. Then, you might wonder about all the “what ifs” in your life.


There was a study done in a hospital among elderly people. As they were lying on their deathbed, they were asked: “What is your biggest regret in life?”


Their biggest regret? All the things that they had been too afraid to do. The dreams they didn’t pursue. The chances they never took.


Most people avoid taking risks because they fear failure. They are afraid of what others might think when they fail or do something that does not conform to the standards of society. Then, when the opportunity has passed, they ask themselves the ifs and what-could-have-beens.

In life, most of us become caught up with the mundane details of everyday living. Day in and day out, we think of work, our bills to pay, our obligations, our relationships, and finances. We live in constant state of anxiety over the pressure of survival and how to make ends meet.


Because of this anxiety, we start living with the fear of exploring other opportunities. We don’t dare come out of our shells, and so we end up limiting ourselves. As a result, we fail to tap into our full potential. This continues on for years until one day, you realize that 40 years had already passed by and you have missed the opportunity to try and make a change in your life.


When that time comes and you are lying on your deathbed, will you be able to honestly tell yourself that you have lived your life to the full?

Steve Jobs once said in a speech:

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that 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 is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Avoid the trap of herd mentality and fear of failure. In the end, we will understand that pain is inevitable. We can avoid the pain of failure but we cannot avoid the pain of regret. Would you be willing to pay the price of success rather than regretting it in the end?

There’s a reason why a seed of a dream has been planted in our hearts. These dreams did not crop up without a reason. Your dreams may seem impossible to achieve but the very process of attaining it makes our existence meaningful. It gives us a sense of purpose and a new outlook in life.


We have what it takes to achieve what we want out of life. We are built to live out the dreams that we have. The desire for growth and aspiration for greatness are embedded in the very fiber of your being. Do not wait for the perfect situation to start. The journey is not meant to be perfect. It is meant to be hard and that’s the whole point. It is hard because the journey is designed to transform you to become the best version of yourself.

When you’re lying on your deathbed you will understand that the most important thing is to follow your heart in spite of the imperfections of your circumstances. To live life to the full is to live life without regrets. Carpe diem!

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by Lean Mulimbayan

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