We can make conscious choices about everything in our lives, even about our lifespans, says Ilchi Lee in his new book, I’ve Decided to Live 120 Years: The Ancient Secret to Longevity, Vitality, and Life Transformation. Although choosing something doesn’t guarantee success, by making conscious choices, we can perceive our lives as something we can manage and intentionally cultivate with our own efforts. Long or short, time just flows by unless we live deliberately. And with an empowered outlook, we increase the likelihood we will achieve our dreams.
Ilchi Lee’s clear, unwavering decision in this book is to live to 120 years of age. He doesn’t actually know when the final day of his life will come, but he does know that living 120 years is a possibility and that he can live with the expectation that he will live that long, especially if he takes steps to live healthfully and with a deep sense of purpose.
Could you imagine yourself living to be 120 years old? I’d like to introduce a meditation from I’ve Decided to Live 120 Years that asks you to consider that question and through it, teaches you the power of conscious choice. Considering this type of question can rekindle in you a deep desire to live a life full of joy, passion, and connectedness.
Meditation: Choose How Long You Want to Live
“To more actively design your life, I suggest that you also choose the age you wish to reach. If you could decide this for yourself, how long would you want to live? Is there some particular age that comes to mind? If so, why that age? Make up your mind to live to a certain age instead of simply wishing to live that long. Express your intention clearly to yourself.
“Have you chosen your lifespan? Next, based on the age you have chosen, calculate how much time you have left between now and when you die. Thirty years? Forty years? Fifty? Most people will have quite a long time left. Think seriously about that time. Isn’t it at least a third of your whole life, or even nearly half of it?
“Now ask yourself these questions: Do I have a goal and a design for the time I have left? What will living to the age I’ve chosen look like? What do I want to achieve and who will I become during that time? Listen carefully for a voice inside you responding to these questions.
“Each and every one of us can choose how we will use the time and the life that have been given to us. This is the greatest power and right that we have. Unfortunately, though, only a tiny fraction of people make good use of this power. Most people have small plans for what they will do tomorrow, what they will do next week, where they will travel during their next vacation, what they will do this holiday season, and so on. Few have plans for five years or ten years from now, much less an overall life plan for where the current of their lives will flow and what goals they will achieve in each stage of their lives—youth, adulthood, middle age, and old age.
“Without a big picture for how we will live our lives, and for what, we end up just going with the flow—allowing our circumstances to determine how things work out. French novelist Paul Bourget said this: ‘We must live as we think, or we shall end up by thinking as we have lived.’
“After attentively observing and talking with people who, like me, have entered the second half of their lives, I have reached this conclusion: most people lack a concrete picture of their lives in their 70s, 80s, and beyond. This is true for people who are physically, mentally, and socially active, as well as for those who live passive, isolated lives following retirement.
“Even people who spend their old age in busy activities—traveling, engaging in hobbies, or volunteering—have to-do lists that fill their schedules but rarely have a big picture for what they want to achieve. To design your remaining years so they are healthy, happy, and overflowing with joy and a sense of fulfillment, you must have a purpose or goal that gives that time meaning.
What Motivates You to Live Up to Your Chosen Lifespan?
“In fact, for choosing how long you will live, what should come first is finding a purpose or goal you want to achieve during the rest of your life. Picking a random number that just pops into your head has little meaning; such a number itself won’t motivate you to live to that age. When we have goals that give us meaning, we do our best to achieve those goals, using all the resources we have. When we have a reason for living to a specific age, we work even harder to manage our bodies and minds and to maintain healthy life habits. . . .
“ ‘How long will I choose to live?’ Ask yourself this question seriously and listen to your inner voice. You’ll find that it is a very powerful question, for it will enable you to realize what you think is important in life. The journey for making the second half the prime of your life begins with this realization.
“Today is unlikely to be your last day. But the probability that today will be the first day of the rest of your life is 100 percent. If you reflect on your life so far and plan your future from a long-term perspective, regardless of how long you choose to live, you will clearly be able to have a healthier, more meaningful, more fulfilling life.”
Please share what you learned from this exercise.
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