❝No matter how many times you do something, there will come a time when you do it for the last time.❞ -Sam Harris
I'm playing three-on-three football and I'm wide open. The quarterback tosses the ball up perfectly and hits me in stride. Right when I catch it, though, I get hit...hard. My best friend set a trap by letting me appear open so that he can get a running start at me. It hurts. I'm lying on the ground in pain, but in a matter of minutes, I'm back up. We had a good time, and we had some good laughs afterward, despite my pain.
I haven't played football in nearly 20 years. It turns out this was the last time I played football. I didn't know that was going to be my last time playing.
What would happen if you started viewing your life through the lens of "last-time" experiences? Would you cherish your time better? Would you be less likely to waste your time?
Last Times in the Future
With everything you do, you will do it for the last time. Certainly, upon death, everything will have happened for the last time. However, it doesn't take death for your experiences to happen for the last time.
If you have a young child, there will be a time you hold your child for the last time, as she will soon be a teenager. If you take vacations with your family, there will be a last time your children are with. There will be a last time to have dinner with your parents, go for a run, or sleep in late.
You don't know when the last time will be.
Last Times in the Past
You probably have things in your life that you've done for the last time, many of those you really enjoyed. And if you spend even five minutes thinking about it, you'll find you likely would have done things differently if you knew it was going to be the last time.
You can use these experiences as a springboard into appreciating your current experiences more. You know that there will be a last time, just like with those past experiences, and that last time might be this time.
The knowledge that you've had things you've enjoyed doing, helps you understand that you owe it to yourself to enjoy your life more now.
The Death Attitude Profile assesses your attitudes toward death and dying. It's based on the belief that people's attitudes toward death play an important role in their overall psychological well-being and quality of life. It measures five different dimensions of death attitudes: fear of death, death avoidance, neutral acceptance, approach acceptance, and escape acceptance.
Last Times Right Now
Take all of this knowledge and consider viewing your life through this lens. It is very possible that this may be your last time reading this newsletter, for a variety of reasons. Maybe tomorrow your email provider marks these as spam. Perhaps something happens to me and I'm unable to continue writing this. Or maybe I've written something in here that offends you and you unsubscribe.
So if there are so many reasons this may be your last time reading this newsletter, then how many reasons might there be for other experiences to end - dinner with your family, happy hour with your friend, creating lego creations with your children, hiking with your dog, or having a nap with your cat on your shoulder? Knowing this could be the last time will help you cherish these moments.
Knowledge of the Last Time is Powerful
This knowledge ought to change your perspective. Knowing that your experiences are limited helps you stop taking your experiences for granted. If this experience might be your last, or if you only have a few experiences left, you'll learn to appreciate it more.
We can take this a step further. You get to decide which experiences you want in your life. You only have so much time, energy, and money, so you can't do everything. And since you can't do everything, I urge you to be very intentional about the things you choose to do.
Give yourself permission to spend your life as you see fit, but make these decisions with intention. Do it consciously and try not to make automatic decisions. Design a life around the things you like, and the things you'd like to experience.
Since you never know when the last time will be, stay present with your experiences. Be grateful for your experiences. Look for the good in the frustrating moments. For example, you may not like arguing with your partner about where to go our for dinner, but you can be grateful for your ability to go out to dinner, to have a partner you love, and that you both feel safe enough to be honest with each other by voicing your opinions.
By taking in the good, you'll be better able to look back at your experiences and feel good about them...
...even if it was the last time.
Everything you do will be done for the last time. Even if you don't like your experiences, or if they bring some minor discomfort, you may miss them when they are gone.
This is your life, and you get to enjoy it. Have fun!
You only have one life. Live intentionally.
Related Money Health® Reading
References and Influences
Jonathan Haidt: The Happiness Hypothesis
Rick Hanson: Hardwiring Happiness
Happiness Lab Podcast: Rising to a Challenge
Sam Harris: Death and the Present Moment
Sam Harris: Waking Up
Ted Klontz: The Labyrinth: Birth and Death
James Lindsay: Life in Light of Death
Netflix: After Life
Wait But Why: Your Life in Weeks
Wait But Why: Putting Time In Perspective
Waking Up Course: The Last Time (subscription required)
Note: Above is a list of references that I intentionally looked at or thought about while writing this article. It is not meant to be a definitive list of everything that influenced my thinking and writing. It's very likely that I left something out. If you notice something that you think I left out, please let me know; I will be happy to update the list.