Contemplating Death Makes You Happier

A few weeks ago I came across a professor named Guy McPherson. He’s been writing and lecturing about climate change and one thing he has concluded from all his research is that we are f**ked.

We’re so screwed in fact, that what he does now is run workshops to help people come to terms with the end of the world. He calls these workshops, Only Love Remains.

As I watched some of his lectures there was a feeling of helplessness, sadness and also a resistance to what I was hearing that came up.

I soon stopped reading about him and went about my day, pushing the issue aside.

However, a few weeks later, an article appears on my Facebook news feed titled, The Point of No Return. That same feeling of helplessness, sadness and resistance came up again.

This time I decided this was something worth investigating further – not the topic, but the emotion and feeling I was experiencing. I went through two thought experiments:

1) Suppose what I am reading is 100% true. We are f**ked. We’ve pushed Mother Earth beyond her capacity and the damage has already been done. What we do today is of no use to prevent the damage that has already occurred – even in best case scenarios. What is left?


And Guy McPherson has aptly named his workshop this – Only Love Remains. If there is absolutely no chance of doing anything to prevent the destruction of ourselves and the planet, then all that is left is a radical acceptance. All that is left is love.

Consider this next thought experiment:

2) Suppose the world isn’t ending. We discover that the American government has been hiring thousands of scientists to yell this doomsday scenario out to the world as a sick joke. We get a leak and discover 100% indisputable evidence that says global warming and climate change is a massive joke. Great! We can continue consuming and living our lives as we’ve done. In fact, we can consume even more. Every single person, all seven billion of us, will be able to live the life of the rich and famous with zero impact on the planet.

What’s left?

Still love.

Here’s the thing, let’s say scenario two is the truth, global warming is a hoax. What changes? Nothing really, because it doesn’t change this one very, very inconvenient truth (as Al Gore might say): we are all still going to die.

Regardless of whether we f**k the planet up in the process or not, it doesn’t change our inevitable deaths.

These doomsday climate change articles are helping humanity wake up on a massive scale. Not because we need to save the world, but because we need to come to terms with the fact that we are all going to die.

It is through this facing of our death that we will awaken, and we will liberate ourselves. And maybe through this liberation we will realise that infinite consumption is a fallacy towards happiness. And that realisation might just be what we need for the more beautiful world to emerge.

Why Contemplating Death Will Make You Happier

The articles on the upcoming apocalypse offered me an opportunity to contemplate death. It also sparked a call to action for all of us to start contemplating death.

Reflecting on death can bring up a lot of pain. For me it brought up sadness, grief and sometimes an urge to push the thought away. But sitting with it and working through it I feel leads to greater freedom and happiness.

It’s a blessing in fact. The world is ending. We are dying. Let’s rejoice!

We are so filtered from the reality of death. The elderly are kept locked away in care homes. The dead body at funerals is caked in make up to mask the decay of rotting flesh and rigor mortis. Talking about death over dinner is completely taboo.

What happens when we suppress something like death? The suppression builds and builds until we are forced to face it. Now it’s not only our own deaths we have to face – we’re being forced to face the extinction of ourselves as a species and countless others.

We’ve been given mass extinction to contemplate instead. Perhaps we are all about to be forced into an epic journey of self realisation. If you’ve read this far, maybe it’s a sign – a wake up call to get started now. Willingly enter the void. Willingly enter the abyss. Because you’re gonna get thrown in there anyway, whether you like it or not.

We are being offered a chance to fully surrender to this inevitability. It is in this surrender that true happiness lies. This fully surrendering is a sort of death – it is a death of the ego. And it is only through this death that we can begin living fully.

As these articles begin circulating around mainstream media. Let’s use them as opportunities for reflections on our death. To reflect on the impermanence of our lives – of everything. And give ourselves permission to experience the wonder, serenity and beauty of the world. Surrender. Relinquish control. Let go. Fall.

“The way of love is not a subtle argument. The door there is devastation. Birds make great sky-circles of their freedom. How do they learn it? They fall, and falling, they’re given wings.” – Rumi

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