Yesterday I was made aware of the passing of a brother in my union. He was still young, not that that precludes anyone from death, but it always is more shocking when you find out someone "dies before their time". I heard a quote recently but can't find it to cite so I won't attribute it to anyone but it goes: "life is too short to really live but just long enough where we feel we will never die." By the time most of us have gained enough wisdom to be effective, our lives are nearing their end. Knowing you most likely have 80 years or so, death seems so far away that we think it will never get us. Some old people become extremely bitter but most older people mellow out because they realize that the stupid shit they stressed out about when they were younger is completely irrelevant. I suppose some of it is just due to lacking the energy to be angry, worried etc - they're all exhausting, but most of it is just perspective gained through time and experience.
Our lives are short and every day needs to be seized to make the best of it. A couple years ago I had an accident that I shouldn't have survived and it changed me. The knowledge that something can happen in the blink of an eye that can alter everything flipped a switch in my brain. I have been accused of changing due to brain trauma but I really think it's because I decided that I might as well be happy in whatever time I had left. There isn't enough time in life to hold grudges, be afraid of what people think of you, to hide you feelings. I don't care if people think I'm too open and frank in person or on the internet - I'll be gone soon enough and at least I said my peace.
Last week I was reading a book called The Happiness Advantage by a Harvard professor who has studied the effects of our outlook on life. Research has shown that people with positive outlooks and generally happier dispositions live longer and are more successful. Success can't really be quantified because it's a subjective concept however, the fact remains that it's all controlled by our outlook. A homeless guy can feel successful if he manages to acquire a shopping cart with 4 good wheels while a CEO may be miserable making 5 million a year. I only got through half the book because there was so much information my brain overloaded and I was simply reading words after that without anything sinking in. What I did read has convinced me of one thing- anyone can be happy, it's a choice, but it may take some individuals more work than others. Be grateful, don't worry - so much of the life is outside your control and as much as possible without being morbid, keep your fragility in mind. We all have to go sometime and the sooner you come to grips with that, the more you appreciate the day you have now.
*on the news now as I type this there is a story about the rise in death rates in lawyers. In the Happiness Advantage, the author states that lawyers are some of the unhappiest people because their job is to look for problems and exploit them. That outlook seeps into the other areas of their lives and shrouds everything in grey. Be careful what you focus on.*
RIP Roberto. You will be missed.