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If You Want to Learn How to Live, Hang Out With People Who Are Dying

I have spent many years as a volunteer at veterans’ hospitals; often spending the final days with our brothers and sisters who have served. I must say, there is nobody as free as somebody who is dying. Conversations are usually pure uncensored truth from someone who has nothing to lose.

I am often asked how I have accomplished so much at a young age and how I continue to multi-task between businesses and working passionately towards my dreams. My answer is always that I have learned how to effectively live from the advice of those who are dying.

Even though the veterans I have sat with were different ages, from different walks of life, and of varying spiritual and religious backgrounds, they always gave a personal version of a common ideal; to live my life to the max.

They fervently insist that I pursue my dreams; that I love unapologetically; that I forgive mercifully; that I share with others; that I take chances; that I accept my faults; that I find humor in life; that I stress less; that I give hugs; that I chase the girl of my dreams; that I leave work at the office; that I watch what I eat; that I respect others; that I learn and explore; that I appreciate what I have; that I live each day to its fullest.

I remember one particular conversation that had a really deep impact on me. I was sitting with an older veteran; I had been visiting him for several months and had built a good rapport with him. The gentleman and I were speaking about life and the opportunities it gives us. He said, “When I was young, I thought I was invincible and that I would live forever. My ideas of living forever made me miss out on living in each day. I didn’t see or appreciate all of the opportunities I had. I kept postponing my own dreams because I felt I had an eternity to fulfill them. Now I realize that I’m not invincible and I can’t believe that I talked myself out of living; I talked myself out of chasing my dreams.”

I will never forget those words, “I talked myself out of living; I talked myself out of chasing my dreams.”

I realized then, that this man, this former soldier, this former business dynamo, this dad, this grandpa, this withered man, with his wrinkled hands and weathered face, is me; he is ALL of us. We do that to ourselves all the time.

How many times have you talked yourself out of living? How many times have you talked yourself out of taking a chance? How many times have you talked yourself out of chasing your dreams?

How would your life be different if you stopped talking yourself out of living the life you have dreamt of?

My life is a reflection of what I have learned from these transitioning souls.

I am aware that my time is limited. I am aware that my moment is now. My moment to love, my moment to give, my moment to achieve, my moment to forgive, my moment to endeavor, my moment to follow my dreams… my moment is NOW. I refuse to live with the regret of gambling for tomorrow. I will not lay on my deathbed wondering what might have been. I will ride the waves of purpose and chance towards the wonderful splendor of my dreams. At the end of my day, I will rest my head on the pillow of a day well-lived and a life well-ventured.

Steve Maraboli

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