Fearing death will only keep you from enjoying life

Writing this post is hitting me pretty close to the heart. As some of you know, my dog has cancer and isn’t doing the best. He is 12.5 years old and has been an amazing companion to me over the last 11.5ish years.

He is a Standard Poodle that I rescued back when I still lived in Illinois. He was a bit nuts and high energy for most of his life but has started to slow down over the past year.

At first, I started getting a little fearful about how I was going to react when he passes or what my other dog is going to do or how my wife will take the news. It started creating a lot of stress for me and really started making it difficult to sleep which then made functioning a challenge.

Then I came across this principle a few months ago and it stopped me dead in my tracks…

Dokkōdō Principle #17: michi ni oitewa shi o itowazu omou (道においてわしおいとわず思う) English interpretation: Do not shun death in the way, Do not fear death

As a samurai, you wouldn’t have been much good on the battlefield if you were fearful of dying. You would make poor decisions because your mind would be focused elsewhere and not in the moment.

Musashi knew this, after all he had been through many battles and 1:1 duels by the time he wrote this. He understood the importance of focusing on the here and now and not worrying about the past or the future, i.e. death.

I think having this kind of attitude and thinking can really be a benefit to us in so many ways. Since I started taking these words to heart, I have shifted my focus to really trying to make the most of the time that I do have my dog.

If I am spending time focused and worried about what might happen or how I might react or behave all that is going to happen is I will inevitably create those situations. Focus on what you want, don’t focus on what you don’t want.

What I want is to make the most of every day that I am given. I want to focus on living the life that I have and not worried about something that is largely outside of my control. I have the ability to accept the current situation for what it is. This really takes me full circle back to Principle #1 which is all about accepting the world as it is.

Acceptance has been one of the best things that I could have ever hoped to strengthen in my life. I had no idea just how many things I was avoiding or ignoring until I started practicing this. Is this my super power? Not yet. I am working on it.

But I can tell you that although it makes me sad to realize that things, people, & animals have to die at some point, it really is the way the world is. Accepting that is an important piece of being able to find more joy in the here and now.

The pathway for me to get to this place of acceptance was through really discovering my ikigai. Understanding what things were sources of ikigai for me and how each of them made me feel.  It really helped me get more in tune with my authentic self. If you are looking for help learning about how you can be more accepting of the world around you, consider exploring your ikigai. Send me a PM I would be happy to chat with you.

#acceptance #ikigai #joyfulliving #lovinglife

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