Why The Death Bed Exercise
Do you feel like you’re just coasting through life? Is your life unfulfilling? Are you unclear about your purpose? Do you know your purpose but need some motivation to make a change in your life and pursue it? If your answer is yes to any of these questions, then maybe it might help to try the death bed exercise.
What Is the Death Bed Exercise?
Yes, you read correctly – the death bed exercise. The death bed exercise might sound a bit grave (no pun intended lol). But quite contrary to how it sounds, it is intended to improve and add to your life. It is a mental exercise to help clarify what you truly want in life and motivate you to start living a life without regrets. This exercise (as its name suggests) is done by visualizing yourself on your death bed.
The death bed exercise is nothing new. It has been practiced in psychology and self-improvement for some time. In his popular book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Stephen Covey invites readers to imagine their 80th birthday party. And even in one of the ancient religious & wisdom writings, a prayer is made in one place which says,
“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Too many people in the world simply go with the flow and go through the motions of life. Many of us waste precious time doing things that are of little value to us and others. So the hope of this exercise is to live a more meaningful, purposeful life NOW by thinking about the end of our life. Realize that our time here on earth is limited and that makes it valuable. So how exactly do we go about doing this exercise?
How To Do The Death Bed Exercise?
Find a quiet place, free from distraction. Imagine that you are at the end of your life, lying on your death bed with one hour left to live. If that image is a bit too depressing and somber for you, imagine instead that it’s your 90th birthday. Whatever scene you choose, you realize that you are nearing the end of your life here on earth. With you, in your presence, is someone you love and trust. You are talking with that person and reflecting on the life you lived – your life.
This life that you’re reflecting on is a projection of the kind of life you are currently living. The kind of life you will live and the type of person you will be if you continue doing things as you are now. So spend a few minutes really visualizing the end of your current life – who you become, your family, your career, how you spent your free time, what you built/created with your life. Then answer these questions:
- How do you feel about the life you lived?
- What legacy do you think you left?
- Do you have any regrets?
- How do your loved ones see you?
- Are you proud of the work (career and otherwise) that you did?
- What would have to be true in your life for you to feel peace and satisfaction?
Rules of The Death Bed Exercise
To get the most from this exercise, here are a few rules/guidelines to follow:
- Answer all questions honestly. Be honest with yourself.
- Have a pen and notepad close by to record your answers to the questions and also write down any other feelings or insights that you might gain from the exercise.
- Write down what changes you would have to make in you life to feel that peace and satisfaction you envisioned at the end of your life.
- From time to time, reflect on what you wrote down in the notepad.
The death bed exercise might seem a bit strange and harsh. But I think it’s the harshness of it that gives it meaning and value. Whatever your current life is like, hopefully this exercise helps to empower you to live a more meaningful life.
Note that a meaningful life doesn’t necessarily mean quitting your job tomorrow. Neither is it really about crossing items off some bucket list. It’s taking more control of your life and doing what truly matters to you. Living a life now that you will feel peace, satisfaction, and pride about at the end of your life.
Bonnie Ware, a palliative nurse, has recorded the top five regrets of the dying in her book “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying”. Click the link for a Review of Her Book.
I wish you every success in life and in the pursuit of your passions and purpose.
A fellow traveler on the road toward financial freedom and a more meaningful life. More About Me and My Blog.