The Simple, Emotional Mind Trick For Instant Gratification

It sounds morbid, but it will help you appreciate your life.

Woman relaxing  Lifestock | Canva 

You run your butt off all week, play catch up on the weekend, and expect to rise and shine on Monday morning with a smile on your face to start it all again. Yeah, right! Obviously, this isn’t working, because only one in three Americans actually report being very happy with their lives. Most of us feel stuck like we have no say at all in how our life plays out. Our days seem pretty much pre-planned, as though we simply swim where the current takes us. 


Yes, we made our own beds. We bought the McMansion (that now takes hours to clean), accepted the promotion (that we totally deserved), made the babies (that was actually really fun), and signed ourselves up for this, that, and at least ten other things. AND … we each get to choose if we want to continue to hit repeat each morning, or if we want to wake up and try out a new, hopefully more fulfilling path towards feeling true happiness. 

This simple, emotional mind trick is the secret to a happier life.

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It all begins with THIS exercise. Close your eyes and take a few deep belly breaths. Once you settle into a more relaxed state, imagine you’re in the doctor’s office. He hands you an expiration date. He regrets to inform you that you have an inoperable tumor, and you’ll be dead within three years. Let that sink in …


How old will you be? What will you be doing when it’s time to check out? How old will your kids be, and what will be going on in their lives when they lose you? Take your time and truly think about what your life might look like in three years. How will those around you be rocked by your death? The more details you can imagine the more profound this experience will be. It’s heartbreaking, isn’t it?

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Now, settle down with that lump in the back of your throat and tell me — if you knew you were going to die within three years, what changes would you make in your life, starting today? I'm guessing that accepting more responsibility at work or chairing another bake sale probably didn’t make your list. Life can be yanked out from under you without warning.  The fantasy of living until you’re wrinkly and senile isn’t a guarantee. 



So tell the voice in the back of your mind, the one that’s whispering, "Great exercise … but I’m not going to actually die in three years," to go away and listen up. You are dying, as am I. Every day we're one day closer today to death than we were yesterday. I know we all hate to talk about our mortality, but it’s still going to happen. Dying is not a tragedy. The tragedy is that we believe we have all of this time — and we don’t.


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We waste hours upon hours scrolling, snapping, and pining. Why? Because we’re too scared to stand up and live differently. We are too scared to give societal standards the middle finger and swim upstream for a change; to choose a lifestyle saturated in happy moments with our loved ones, instead of buried in material possessions. This is your chance to stand up!



My father used to tell me that life was like a one-night stand; blink and I’d miss it. If he was alive to see this smartphone plague he would adjust to say, "Look down and you’ll miss it." If you want to take back control of your life, put down the electronics and do something with the fire we set today in your belly. Until you’re ready to step up and play the real game of life, you will feel like you have no control. I hope you look up before you miss it.


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Jessica M. Miller is a relationship, personal development, and motivational coach. She's the author of Back 2 Love and How to Start a Mental Health Private Practice.