Thinking from the End

Gilles Gagnon
What matters?

What matters?

Twenty years ago, my continuing journey of self-discovery and introspection took me to a place where I kept asking myself the question “What matters?... What really matters?”   I dedicated much of my time in attempting to answer this recurring question.  I read many books by people who I recognize as “wise” , I questioned friends and strangers in search of an answer, and I attended workshops and did various enlightening exercises.

One particular exercise which was very revealing for me was one I’ll call “Thinking from the end” . It involves sitting in a quite place, alone, and slowing down my mind by breathing deeply.  Next, I would visualize myself at home or in a hospital, after having lived a long, meaningful life but knowing that there are only a few hours left of my precious life here on earth. To put it bluntly, I’m on my death bed. It was important for me to stay in this state for several minutes, deeply visualizing and feeling what this would be like, making it as real as possible.

Once I reached a meditative state, I would ask myself two significant questions:

  1. ”What are my fondest memories? “
  2. ”What has mattered to me during my precious life?”

If you try this exercise, you may notice that most, if not all, of what you answer to the above questions will have nothing to do with money or material things.  It is possible that the things that will have truly mattered to you might be your relationships, experiences you’ve had with family and friends, having discovered and enjoyed natural beauty, the experiences relating to your children or grand-children, or perhaps loving pets.  The material things or the long hours at the office might not have mattered.  You may also realize that it wasn’t about what you received that mattered....but what you gave, especially in terms of love and kindness.

After doing this exercise, I began to question why so many people spend so much time and energy on activities or things that, in the end, will not matter.

”Thinking from the end” once in a while, proves to be a very good method of re-centering oneself and to question whether one is using one’s time here on earth sensibly and wisely on what matters.  Try thinking from the e nd NOW and you could live a most meaningful life without regrets.

Sunset

Spend your time and energy on things that matter NOW, so when your last day comes, and it will come, you’ll feel totally content as you declare  “I’ve spent my life on the things that really matter to me."

Gilles Gagnon

Gilles Gagnon is a Canadian living in Toronto. He created and maintains the website The Wisdom Speakers.