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Being a Debbie Downer

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(I have a tendency to do this, but I’d like to think it keeps me prepared for the future.)

I stumbled across this site called They Don’t Teach You This In School. It has decent advice, mostly New Age-y follow your dreams stuff but some other more concrete stuff too.

There’s an article inspired by a commencement speech at Stanford given by Steve Jobs. Thanks to Longreads, I recently read this speech and found it had lots of good pragmatic advice.

But in the TDTYTIS article, the author writes (emphasis added):

He says that being diagnosed with cancer and coming that close to death has led him to start every day thinking like it’s his last. If it’s your last day on earth, you want to be doing something you enjoy, right? So if he wakes up in the morning, and decides that what he is about to do that day isn’t what he would like to do on his last day, he will do something different. Isn’t this how we should all live our lives to ensure we get the most out of them?

But actually, Steve Jobs says something very different (emphasis added):

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

TDTYTIS changed Jobs’ message from pragmatic advice to probably foolish advice. I’m sounding like a Debbie Downer when I write this, but not every day’s itinerary is filled with things that you want to do before your last day on Earth. Sometimes you have to go to work and sit through that boring meeting. Sometimes you have to smile at people and humor their queries. Sometimes you have to have lunch with your mother.

Steve Jobs recognized that some days will suck. So his advice was to consider the big picture. Not to live every day as if it was his last, but to make sure he never spent too much time not doing the things he wanted to do and to every so often, live at least one day as if it was his last.

That’s the better advice… at least to my personality.

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Written by notatypewriter

2011 May 29 at 6:38 am

Posted in Thoughts

Tagged with , , , , ,

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