Standing at the Threshold

How would you live differently if you had just come back from the brink of death? Would you pay more attention to your business or to your family? What would you treasure? What would you stop doing? What would you start? What do you truly value? These are serious questions with a high probability of life-enhancing answers.

OK, today’s topic may create a little discomfort for some folks. Please do not be concerned. A little discomfort is usually a good thing, not something to be avoided. It’s a sign of impending growth. Here goes: When it comes to “near death” experiences, most people report some common feelings. Let’s take a look at what that encompasses.

What we are talking about is not what their experience of death is like. We are referring to their altered attitude toward life. Almost every survivor reports feeling more connected to humanity and less concerned about self. It’s often viewed as a second chance, standing at the threshold of a fuller life.

For example, in 1973, when Stevie Wonder came out of a four-day coma after an automobile accident, he deepened his commitment to helping his fellow man. “I will not be operating so much ‘on’ time as ‘in’ time,” he said, meaning that he would strive to help others before it was too late.

This is exactly what people in similar circumstances report they feel – an overwhelming desire to be of service. For many of us, it seems to take a severe shakeup or a close-call with death to wake us up to our own sense of purpose and what we truly value. It’s just like Ebeneezer Scrooge, in Charles Dickens’ story “A Christmas Carol.” He had to be shown his own death before the spirits could convince him to change his ways in life.

Consider, if you will, that third level of happiness we talked about not so long ago: Contribution. Perhaps we don’t need to have a near-death experience in order to live every day with gratitude, and to create the most complete life we can have. We don’t need to hear “angel wings” or be visited by ghosts in the night, in order to better connect to the world around us.

What do you think? Will you go back to your “regularly scheduled programming,” or start something new and vital in your life?