“The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.”
If you don’t know someone personally who experienced this, I’m sure you’ve heard tales of people who were given a medical prognosis suggesting they have only three months to live. Oddly enough, many of these tales include some element of surprising joy and appreciation of life.
None of us would wish such a prognosis on someone, yet many of us have learned a valuable lesson from the experiences described by those who have walked this path. They speak of joy that seems to emanate from a sudden increase in their appreciation of the simple things in life that we typically ignore because of our constant pursuit of what’s coming next.
Humans are driven by the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. All of our motivation comes from those polarized drives. We want more pleasure, and we want to escape from pain.
Our efforts to get more pleasure and avoid pain drive our minds to dwell in the future. Oddly enough, the experiences of those with a short time to live suggest we are looking in the wrong place. Rather than looking to the future, their experiences suggest we can find the greatest joy by bringing our attention fully to what we have .
It is not easy to turn off the longing for other circumstances, or some moment in the future when we will finally be relieved of some gnawing emotional or physical pain. Being told you have only a short time to live makes it easier though. Near-death experiences also make it easier.
Sometimes the feeling that we have hit the bottom of the barrel can evoke a release, a change in perspective that allows us to stop the insane pursuit of some future moment and instead fully embrace life as we find it right now, unfolding around us with all of its mystery.
A woman who stands bleeding beside the car that was thrown into a ditch may not be focused on the inconvenience of having several lacerations and blood all over her favorite shirt. Instead, she may find herself marveling at the chance to live, the chance that was given to her to escape from death. Those who are faced with the possibility of losing everything are able to love life more deeply and richly because they are faced with that possibility.
Fully appreciating life means you see it more clearly. The foggy visions of the future and past generated in your mind’s eye are no longer the focus of your attention. Instead, you see and experience the joyful miracle of life unfolding. If you bring this kind of awareness, this special attention to the art of loving life, you will not regret it.
If you want to be a fantastic lover, love your man by fully appreciating each moment with him the way you would if he was going to be pulled away from you in a few short days. Love him the way your instincts would tell you to love him if there was no chance the relationship could become anything short of true-love in the moments you have left with him.
Living life tomorrow is not guaranteed, and highly valuing the present moment, brings a special quality to your presence. Others will sense it. You will seem less distracted, more alive. When others experience you as “full of life,” they will naturally be more attracted to you.
Am I being naive? I don’t think so. I understand the suffering and pain people face in this life, and I do not think we are turning a blind eye by embracing joy that can be found in the present moment. The more horrendous things are, the more we need to embrace the luminous beauty of joy that can be found shining in the hearts of those who choose to love without fear.
If you know what I’m talking about, leave a comment or a story below. Your story might “click” in someone’s mind in a way my article did not.
A few months ago my BF & I began a relationship with the understanding that this could lead to marriage. We are both marriage-minded. We had gotten to know each other over the past 5 months & spending hours and hours talking after the our gym workouts. He was so open and we talked for hours at time about everything and anything. A week after we began as GF/BF he was given a medical diagnosis that he may only have a few yrs to live,
It was & is devastating… he soon thereafter shut down and went into a cocoon. He was shut me out.. and his daily text msgs were less and less and his calls less and less. He apologized and admitted he when he get very depressed this is what he does. I’ve clearly and calmly explained to him that I cannot connect with him with his lack of communication and if we cannot connect then how can we have a relationship? He thanked me for being patient with him. My patience is wearing thin and yet I don’t want to dissert him either yet I feel he doesn’t need me and asked him if he wants space or if he doesnt want this relationship and the answer is he wants us.. he devastated that all his dreams and plans have no future and even told me dreamed of proposing to me. It’s killing me and I’ve gotten to the point where Im Angry at him for not talking to me.. for not letting me help him.. and for not getting the antidepressants he said he was going to get.
I want to tell him it’s time to do all the traveling and all the things he wants to do Now while he still has time. I don’t know what to do. I need my partner .. he is MIA. It’s making me angry and my first instinct is to forget him and move on otherwise this will continue to torture me. Will this book help me or him ?
Don’t give up, if he has that long to live there are treatments available. Just search and pray. He just needs hood and reassurance that you won’t desert him. Tell him how you’re feeling and let him know you will fight for his life together.
He just needs “hope”
Yes I too lived and loved in the moment. I knew it was not going to last, not because we were unequally made for each other, but he belongs to someone else. The time together was precious and even through we knew it was wrong, it felt so right.
Live like it’s your last moments on earth…love like there’s no tomorrow…no fear just faith….love is never wasted as its what brings value to life.
So timely! Live as if someone could be taken away from you, in any form… I just had a very wonderful potential relationship slip away. I need to learn to express my feelings, share often what I am thinking about ‘us’, (usually positive and lovely things) and take risks and ask “heartfelt” questions about what or where one stands with these feelings.
Allow answers to not have to be what you want to hear at the moment, but share that you can give it more thought and understanding. What happened is that another, very lovely lady and long term friend of my friend, did and loving feelings were suddenly reciprocated for each other, and a surprise to both.
Nice for them, sad for me.
Yep, I know what you’re talking about. 17 years ago I was told I needed a hysterectomy because of an ovarian cyst. Bad enough but they said I might have ovarian cancer. Talk about terrifying!
Had to wait 2 months for an operation and in that time I spent my free time walking. I walk a lot anyway but wanted to get as fit as possible and knew that after the op I wouldn’t be able to walk very well for quite a few weeks.
I was so scared and my wonderful husband supported me and helped me get through each day.
It was weird, then, when after a while I started to enjoy each moment. Each walk was full of interesting things to see, and everything appeared in greater clarity. In the 3 weeks before the operation I was living life like I’d never lived it before. It was an astonishing time and one in which I lived in the present (partly because I wanted to ignore what was coming in the future!).
Since then I’ve trained, qualified and worked as a psychotherapist which has helped me focus on the present, but I’ve never lived as much, as concentratedly in the moment as back when I was waiting to go into hospital.
I didn’t have cancer. I recovered quickly and got on with life although that shadow of the possibility of cancer remained with me for many years.
Sadly my husband caught pneumonia, got complications and eventually died 8 years ago. Again I had to live in the present because the past was gone and there seemed to be no future. What was different here was focusing on all the positives in the day, just to try to give me something nice to think about when life seemed no longer worth living.
At first I challenged myself, when in bed at the end of the day, to think of 3 nice things. Didn’t have to be big – maybe smelling a rose, or listening to a blackbird sing. Sometimes I’d go to sleep while struggling with the first nice thing. I’m sure it’s the trying to think of them which matters and not the actual things one thinks about.
Again, it was rather surprising what happened. After doing this every day, after 18 months I noticed that positive observations/realisations popped into my head during the day without me seeming to have made the effort! I’ve become a much more positive thinker than before (this at the age of 59) and I feel much happier than before – but I guess that looking for positive things in the present is about living in and noticing what is going on right now.
So yes, living in the moment is something that works well and has a lot of positive benefits. I’ve become much more confident about being me, and much more confident with other people. How they perceive me I don’t know but my friends seem to enjoy hanging out with me. You’d have to ask them 🙂
You have achieved something quite wonderful that many never will experience. You give inspiration to be thankful for the good things in life.
We’re both in situations that would have repercussions if we make changes; however, I live my life like tomorrow may not be! He sees my “full of life” persona and has chosen to retract for fear of falling and attachment with the motto of “its not going anywhere “ keeping a close mind and thinking about the future when we know it’s not guaranteed. This pandemic with losing his friend he has come to realize he will miss out on the possibilities of enjoying what’s real and in front of him to be open and to take in life with someone he adores before it’s too late! We may have a future, but without the present, one will never know!
This concept helps me a lot. I am in a long distance relationship. We love each other so much but we also have awesome careers in both of our respective locations. It is tough that we do not have any plans yet who will move to where, yet we also understand that we do not want to pressure each other. We are just on the same boat to live day by day. Most of the time, distance is really tough. Sometimes I do not know if not having plans of being together is still healthy. But when we’re together we’re just living each day like it’s our last.
I too am in the exact situation as yours. Long-distance, just doing each other’s lives and not putting any pressure for future plans. Because it is true, tomorrow is never guaranteed. Some friends of mine may think otherwise about my situation, but it works for the both of us. At the moment, we are both busy with our careers elsewhere but we are constant in letting each other know what our days have been. Simple things that brings me joy or find interesting, I snap a picture of or send a message to him. And he does the same, which totally makes my day since he mostly sends me either the most beautiful of sceneries, a very eye-catching and mouth-watering dish in front of him or just the silliest of stuff he buys in the store. Even if far apart, sharing each others’ joys and moments are truly special (Thank you, 21st century gadgets and technology! Long-distance is hard to manage without you). It is far less stressful than thinking of “what will be” because that question will never be truly answered. It’s okay to feel like not having plans of being together is unhealthy, there really is always that thought, but take a look at the both of you now and maybe ask, “am I happy?” If you are, then you’re okay. And James is right, trust your instincts, just love him the way you know how. I say, do what makes you happy (live YOUR life first) and be with who makes you smile. In my experience, as I live the life doing the things I loved (and still love to do), I worried less what lies ahead, and I myself am not pressured to make plans since I’m happy where I am now with him. I actually never thought to be with him for almost 3 years to date, and as I look back, and the fact that we are far apart, I could never imagine how much our relationship has grown. I wish you well in your relationship and thank you James for all your thoughts and advise. They have truly guided me in so many ways.