If We Know How To Face Death, We Know How To Live

Humans live in denial, it is a defense mechanism against the knowledge of our mortality; if not nobody would want to live. Please pardon my relatively morbid and dark topic, I always think that death is something we should talk more instead of avoiding it.

My father used to have a factory in Ipoh, guess what we produced? Coffin. Yes what an odd product! My mum always told us to share with others that our business was about producing wood products / furniture should anyone ask about it. Not a favorite topic for many people I guess.

I have seen enough coffins and funerals. In Ipoh there is a street called “Hym Gai (谦街)”, most coffin shops are situated there. Almost every night there would be some funerals hosted by different shops, most of the time they use white color to decorate the funerals, except for those who died at old age they would use red instead.

My family used to visit our customers at coffin shops during Chinese New Year. No, it’s not auspicious to do that but we were fine with it. To me coffins are just “furniture”, although I did see stretcher and urns around too. With exposure to death almost on a daily basis, since young I learned that our lives are not permanent. We all would die one day regardless of our social status and wealth. And that teaches me about living life to the fullest.

1) Between action and inaction, always choose action

I rather try something and fail at it, than fail to try. There are already more than enough researches show that we always regret for not taking actions. Not chasing the dreams we had, not dating the ones that we liked, not doing things that we loved.

2) Live in the presence

Yesterday was over, tomorrow is never guaranteed, live now. Treasure everything that we have now, we can find joy even in the smallest things. Sunrise, a good run, great music, warm shower in cold weather, rainbow, fragrant flowers… these are just a small fraction of things that I treasure and find joy.

3) Accept what we cannot change, change what we cannot accept

Do you know what is the only thing we can change? Our mind. We can influence others but we cannot change others, when I start to accept this I become much more peaceful.

4) Always do our best

Live like there is no tomorrow and do our best, every day. If I knew that I have done my best put in the best effort, I won’t have to spend a second to regret in future.

5) Treat everyone like this is the last time we would meet

If this is the last time you are going to talk to someone, would you still be annoyed / frustrated / angry at that person? Every time I feel pissed off by someone, I just ask myself the same question. It is hard to be still polite and not raising our voice when angry, but I rather to leave on a good note than a bad impression. If there is nothing nice to say, keep quiet.

P/S: Recently I came across two books “When Breath Becomes Air” and “Option B“, highly recommended!


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