Gratitude is the best combatant of fear

Gratitude is the best combatant of fear

The concept of being alive may be overwhelming at times. The fact that your time on earth is finite can be both debilitating and motivating. The same thought may cause you to realize that you want to do so much in a limited timespan, urging you to pick up on that book you always wanted to read, make the trip you have had in your head for years, or cause you to say: “Fuck it!”, and move your livelihood abroad. It incentivizes you to make the best of your time on earth and decrease the amount of meaningless crap that occupies your days

On the other hand, your limited lifespan may provoke anxiety. The fact that by age 25, you probably have somewhere around merely 2 times of your already spent time left. Time which in hindsight flew by. The realization that one day you will be dead forever, the realization that you won’t be around to experience what the future will look like in one hundred years, the realization that nobody will even know of your existence after a couple of generations. Thoughts like these make you wish you could stop or reverse time. Churning on these thoughts may lead to existential dread. Though I believe that not everyone experiences these thoughts in the same manner.

In light of these morbid thoughts, you do well to be grateful. Ryan Holiday, author of the Daily Stoic, provides us with an early morning exercise that can repel dark thoughts:

Firstly, be thankful that you have actually woken up, many people will not have this privilege today.

Think about the immense luck you have of actually being able to experience everything around you. Your parents just happened to meet at the right place and moment for you to even exist. Not just that, every person in your entire family lineage aligned impeccably to lead to your birth. Even before that, your genes can be traced back to a primordial soup in which scattered simple molecules formed the first proteins. Over thirteen billion years of the most improbable of circumstances in an immensity of chaos that randomly came to order and formed you.

Without making too many assumptions: if you are able to read this on a computer, connected to network of servers and computers all around the globe, you were born in the best time to be alive yet,  in one of the more favorable places on earth. While you get to experience all this, you are being immobilized by thoughts, even though it is so intensely unlikely of you even being able to think. Wouldn’t it be better to just let gratitude flood out your heinous thinking and simpy enjoy it all?

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