Existential Psychology

March of Years

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The most difficult realization for a human being, as Rollo May and Irvin Yalom would put it, is that life is not a never ending upward spiral. Decline, old age, and death wait for us all. You spend all this time climbing the mountain only to realize when you reach the summit that going up means you have to go back down.

We can’t change our natures or our fates, but we can change our outlooks in order to live fuller lives while we have the chance. The biggest problem with the belief that life is a never ending upward spiral is that you don’t appreciate where you are because you are always looking towards where you are hoping to be. What you have isn’t good enough but at least you are on your way to something bigger and better, and you focus all your attention and energy on that.

Entire lives are spent living in the future tense, anxiously awaiting milestones, and when the end comes people realize they spent their time waiting for something instead of really living. They are left with a profound sense of regret.

The sooner you come to realize that time is short and you are not immortal the better, because it will make you appreciate the situation you are in right now and you will live more fully in the present. Recognizing that you are alive, healthy, and sentient is cause for celebration when you really take the time to consider that one day soon you will not be any of these things.