Thursday, February 7, 2013

Book review: 20,000 Days and Counting The Crash Course For Mastering Your Life Right Now by Robert D. Smith

This little book by Robert Smith is really a common sense book about beating procrastination and start living life as if everyday is a last day for us on earth.  This book reminds us that we are always, very literally, only one step away from dying, from meeting our Creator face to face. Any moment. Any day. Anywhere. Consequently, there is a need to always ask ourselves the question of what is our purpose of life here. As Robert says:
“..... I felt a pressing desire to accomplish these little things—make a phone call, write a letter, research an idea—as soon as they occurred to me. I constantly asked myself, What is important now? What is next? I could never escape those two questions as they spun around in my mind. To this day, those same two questions keep me up late, get me up early, and create a never-ending quest of enormous possibilities and accomplishments. In truth, I never really want to be finished, though I am aware that one day, it will all end. But not yet.”
As Robert alluded that there is no thought that will purge our priorities of worthless and worldly tastes like the thought of our impending death. Daily pondering of the kind of life we would like to look back on when we come to die helps us to re-focus our priorities daily. The thought of imminent death helps clarify our purposes, a rearranging of what really matters. A good example would be testimonies of people having near-death experiences and then making radical changes in their lives.

The Bible says:
  • So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.  (Psa 90:12 NKJV)
  • "LORD, make me to know my end, And what is the measure of my days, That I may know how frail I am. Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my age is as nothing before You; Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Surely every man walks about like a shadow; Surely they busy themselves in vain; He heaps up riches, And does not know who will gather them. (Psa 39:4-6 NKJV)
  • For who knows what is good for man in life, all the days of his vain life which he passes like a shadow? Who can tell a man what will happen after him under the sun?  (Ecc 6:12 NKJV)
  • He comes forth like a flower and fades away; He flees like a shadow and does not continue. (Job 14:2 NKJV)
However, the reason why most people are unable to live with this mentality of living as if today is the last day is that it’s tough. It takes discipline, patience, and even courage because it requires you to live in a way that is contrary to how the majority of people around you are living their lives.

Nonetheless, Robert also reminds us that it is the little things that add up to the big picture. Do not wait for impending death to light the fire of action inside yourself. Act today. Start small. There are opportunities hiding in the “day-to-day.”

We may not always feel motivated to live purposefully; however, psychologist William James (as quoted in the book) believed that "we don’t sing because we’re happy; we’re happy because we sing."
Sing while you do something, and infuse it with joy. It beats waiting around for inspiration any day.

Robert listed seven generic reflection questions that we can use regularly to help us focus our priorities regularly:

  1. Whose life am I going to brighten today? 
  2. What three things am I most grateful for today?
  3. What memories am I going to create today?
  4. What challenge am I going to overcome today?
  5. What value am I going to create today?
  6. How much joy can I create for others and myself today?
  7. What life-changing decision(s) am I going to make today?
Bonus Question (just to cover all the bases): What question am I not asking yet today?”

(Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this e-book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”)

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