5 Words to Tell Yourself Every Day
A simple mental tweak for instant gratitude, happiness, and motivation.
First and foremost…
I appreciate your interest in my first ever piece of published writing. I suppose the title was interesting enough to spark your curiosity, and now I hope the content is valuable enough to garner your attention.
I’ve decided to kick things off with something deeply close to heart, in turn setting the tone for all of my future writings — authenticity. With authenticity comes relatability, through which we open more doors that enable us to elevate each other.
Let’s get it on…
Who Am I to Talk?
In other words, why am I here?
- Because I managed to turn my life around. In one year. After free-falling as a couch potato for five years.
- Because I look back and feel as if I moved a mountain.
- Because I want to help at least one person out there achieve the results that will generate the same feeling for themselves.
During my aforementioned five-year slump, this is what I was doing:
- Not working hard, not learning, and absolutely no personal development.
- Procrastinating daily.
- Not building new friendships, and not appreciating existing ones I was lucky to have.
- Eating trash, smoking like a chimney, and sitting on my ass all day — treating my body like a dump.
- Generally taking life for granted and forgetting that the odds of me being alive are one in 400 trillion.
I won’t go into detail about what sent and kept me down that spiral, but I really was on my way towards crossing the event horizon to becoming a perpetually-useless piece of turd. As of March 2019, exactly one year ago, I finally slammed the breaks. In the year since, these are the most significant moves I made:
- I built a 24/7 self-monitoring system to track and analyze my time usage, calorie intake, intermittent fasting schedule, workout performance, personal finances, daily task completion, and reading and self-learning progress.
- I kept a daily journal and wrote down my life goals every evening.
- I definitively quit an eight-year habit of smoking.
- I exercised daily — and lost 20 kilograms — in the most enjoyable manner I could’ve asked for.
- I learned how to learn — yes, it is a standalone skill in itself!
- I recently decided to pursue my calling as an entrepreneur.
- I reconnected with my passion: making music.
In short, I started holding myself accountable in every aspect of my life, every single day. At this point, if I was to find words to fill the blank for “I’m the most _________ I’ve ever been in my life”, the first answers that come to mind are:
- “Self-aware, appreciative, and liberated”
- “Emotionally and spiritually fulfilled”
- “Fit and healthy”
This may all seem impressive to you, or you may think it’s just a bunch of peanuts. If it is the latter, that’s totally fine — if you don’t find this useful, chances are you’re probably far ahead in your own adventure of self-actualization, in which case I’d have nothing but applause and admiration. But if the former is true, read on — this is where I share with you the five words that became the catalyst for my transformation, and the thought process from which it’s derived in the first place.
Hopefully, this can serve as a spark of inspiration and help catalyze that change you’ve always wanted to make, whatever it may be.
My Wake Up Call
I was extremely close to my grandfather, as my grandparents helped raise me throughout a significant stretch of my childhood and adolescence. A sudden and easily-preventable accident in January 2019 basically took him — an otherwise-healthy man with no serious health complications — from this world overnight. Up until the moment before this happened, I was halfway across the world, with my guard down, still under the assumption that I could see him again the next time I visit.
In the wake of this heartbreaking incident, I initially thought I had learned something about life: it is damn short. However, after the funeral in February 2019 — once the smoke has cleared in my mind and the dust has settled in my heart — I was able to think with more clarity and rationality.
I realized that my grandfather called it a life at 87 years old, which is generous by any standards of life expectancy. I began scratching my head as I sought a more fitting takeaway, as I felt that “life is short” never quite hit the nail on the head.
Perhaps, we tend to say “life is short” because of just how fragile it is and how easily it can be taken away from us at the snap of a finger — you know, Thanos’ type of thing.
And it began to hit me.
“Tomorrow is never promised.”
Close, but that didn’t hit hard enough. I had to take it further.
“I could be dead tomorrow.”
Yes, that hit the spot…
It made me recall that “You’re Gonna Die” was Gary Vaynerchuk’s “Most Motivational Statement Ever in 3 Words” (or five 😉 ) — the ultimate fire he uses to fuel his actions towards fulfilling his ambitions, to which I merely nodded in agreement when I first heard it in 2017. Two years and a dagger to the heart later, I arrive at a similar revelation, but through my own unique perspective and freshly-profound understanding.
“I Could Be Dead Tomorrow”
Nowadays, whenever anything puts me on edge or knocks me down in any way, I immediately tell myself one thing and one thing only:
“I could be dead tomorrow.”
Then, I take a few deep breaths, let these five words marinate in my mind for a bit (I take this part very seriously), before proceeding to ask myself:
“Now, what was bothering me so damn much again?”
Often, that would be followed by:
“Well, wanna do something about it?”
And sure, any pre-existing problems beyond the scope of my emotions — e.g. a deadline that needed to be met, a conflict that needed to be resolved, a mistake that needed to be rectified, or bills that needed to be paid — will still be existent. My ass that needed saving remains in a to-be-saved state.
However, I am now able to reinsert myself into the situation with a newfound sense of being that’s best described as:
“Fuck it, I am bigger than my problems because I’m alive.”
This encapsulates all the fire and clarity I’ll ever need to face any challenge. At the end of the day, if we must pray for anything in life, it shouldn’t be for a voyage smoothly sailed, but for the strength and gumption to weather all the storms along the way.
How Do We Reinforce This?
It’s possible we might think: “Alright, if tomorrow isn’t promised, then what’s the point?” After all, why don’t I just let myself go and continue to indulge in all the detrimental but immediately-satisfying habits?
To that thought, we should counter with: “If my time comes, what do I want to be remembered as? My thought process is:
- Who do I want to be?
- Who we are is determined by what we do.
- So, what do I need to be doing to reflect the person I want to be?
The key here is this: when we create a scenario where our potential legacies are at risk of being shat on by ourselves through our own actions (or inaction) — no matter at what it scale it might be — we’ll find ourselves surprisingly incentivized to alter our behavior for the better while we still can.
Once internalized, five simple words changed my life.
“I could be dead tomorrow.”
This is what my grandfather left me with. Even with his curtain drawn closed upon the show called life, he managed to summon the wisdom within me to have me open my eyes to this reality, embrace it, use it to fuel positive change, and pretty much create a silver lining from his otherwise-heartbreaking passing out of thin air. What an absolute legend!
And this is really why we consider some people to be truly great in our lives. It’s not purely about how much they’ve done for us or meant to us while they were here. It’s that, even long after they’re gone, their legacy lives on through the influence they’ve been on us, which continues to manifest itself into wonders.
Through appreciating the lives that have ended, it also brings our attention to how much we all take our own lives for granted. And although I can’t speak for everyone living above the poverty line, I can sadly speak for the world I’ve seen through my own lens…which is a whole lot of it. This also includes moments when I look in the mirror.
But that’s fine. I recognize it now. Let’s recognize it together, and collectively put our money where our mouths are the next time we think we can abide by the clichéd “never take life for granted” motto. Let’s not fall into the trap of unintentional hypocrisy by not actually walking the walk.
“Life is short” is just too ambiguous. “So life is short…and?” How short could it be?”
It lacks that directness needed to create the urgency that immediately gets your gears running. As Tim Ferriss frequently points out in his book, The 4-Hour Work Week, goal setting should be as well defined as possible. The same principle applies when it comes to a much-needed kick in the ass.
“Picture this…I could be dead tomorrow.”
Don’t sugarcoat it. Make it loud and clear. Let it hit as hard as possible.
There’s nothing maniacal about this. Of all the lessons we learn from death, the most important one is that it is imminent. But until then, we can literally capture this darkest inevitability and use it to fan the fire for the rest of life itself — thereby unlocking the attitude to live as if we are forever young.
They say: “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”
Let’s bump it up a notch: why not make every breath we take a moment to behold?
I see you’ve made it to the end here. For that, I thank you. 🙏
I’ll continue documenting my adventure of chasing the best version of myself while sharing my learnings related to, but certainly not limited to: productivity optimization; procrastination management; self-growth; business; tech; and music. I hope you stay tuned for what’s to come. In the meantime, live as if you’re forever young…I know I will! 😉