You won’t live forever. Although we try to get at immortality through new health advances and leaving a legacy, there’s no avoiding the fact that we all die at some point.
What can you do about death?
Let it inspire you. Realizing that you have a limited life allows you to take risks and make heartfelt choices with urgency.
Here are 20 things to do before you die to get you thinking about all of the opportunities and experiences you can have while you’re here.
1. Before Thinking of Things to Do Before You Die, Consult Your Death
Death brings life meaning. Many cultures tend to skirt around facing mortality out of fear. Although avoiding death may bring you comfort, it causes complacency and acceptance of the mundane.
Thinking often about death allows you to focus on what’s important to you. Rather than being afraid of death, look towards it and ask “what will you take from me?”
Then, you’ll know how to live your life in a worthwhile way. Then, you can construct a meaningful “bucket list” or template of what you want to make of your life.
Until you do so, here are more ideas of what you can do before your final breath.
2. Learn an Instrument
If you already know how to play the hurdy-gurdy or the cello, great. If not, find an instrument that interests you and start playing.
The benefits of musical expression are endless. It allows you to speak a language without words, to enter the flow state, and to slip into the realm of art and novelty.
3. Hop a Train
We suggest this one lightly as train-hopping can be dangerous and illegal.
Instead, this idea is to provoke thoughts of risk and adrenaline. Perhaps you find that through sky diving, bungee jumping, or swimming with sharks.
Doing something that invokes a fear response adds meaning to the calm and safe parts of life. Do something that requires risk-taking, even if it’s a measured risk.
4. Skinny Dip in the Ocean
There’s nothing like being completely bare, surrounded by one of the largest things in our earthly lives.
1 in 10 Americans have never left their state, meaning a large portion of you reading this have never seen an ocean at all. Get to a coastline and bask in the feeling of being small and powerless.
5. Make a Drastic Physical Change
Shave your head. Get a tattoo. Dress outside of your normal attire.
Making a drastic physical change allows you to let go of your attachment to your external representation. This may come as a challenge to many.
It will bring you liberation by showing you that you can change the outside of you in whatever way, shape, or form. Through any change, your true internal self will always be the same.
6. Buy a Star
Yes, you read that correctly. You can name a star whatever you want here.
Research a constellation you like and grab a piece of the night sky.
7. Experience Sensory Deprivation
We experience a continuous bombardment of sensory inputs. Never in our lives have we experienced total silence, total darkness, total nothingness.
Sensory deprivation is a deep meditation where you can realize the expansiveness of your mind. Check out a float tank or a dark retreat to learn more about infinite self.
8. Spend a Significant Amount of Time in Silence
Chaim Potok said, “I’ve begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it.”
Try spending a week in silence. You will re-learn the importance of language as well as the importance of stillness. You may do this alone in nature or at a silent retreat.
9. Participate In Another Culture’s Ceremony
This doesn’t mean cultural appropriation. It’s cultural appreciation through immersion and understanding.
Travel to a culture’s homeland and partake in their sacred rituals. This may mean a tea ceremony in Japan or an Ayahuasca ceremony in South America.
Throughout time, humans have always leaned on ceremony to experience spirituality as a community. Open up to the ways of ancient knowledge so that you may deepen your life in your own culture.
10. Map Your Family Tree
Speaking of ancient cultures, find out more about your own. Mapping your family tree gives you insight as to how you got where you are now.
11. Travel By Yourself
Most bucket lists are lists of beautiful, foreign places. This is because traveling to an unknown place gives you perspective on your life and others.
It brings compassion, understanding, and appreciation.
If you’re brave enough to do it alone, you will reap the benefits. You will find newfound confidence, learn more about yourself, and meet global friends you wouldn’t have otherwise.
12. Publish Something
You don’t have to be a great author or poet. Publish something that you’ve written so that you document your voice in the world.
Your words may bring joy to your loved ones after you depart. Plus, your voice remains in the world long after your body leaves.
13. Attend a Transformational Music Festival
Gathering and celebrating is a fundamental part of human nature. Festivals date back thousands of years, such as Nevruz, the celebration of hope and rebirth.
Find a local or international festival to attend. It may focus on food, music, workshops, or a myriad of many things in one.
14. Live Minimally
You can either get rid of everything you have or pretend you have nothing. Either way, living with little teaches you respect and appreciation for what you have.
It also allows you to have compassion for those who have little without choice.
15. Right the Wrongs
Before you die, you should clean your slate. This means right-ing the wrongs you may have made throughout life, forgiving those who have wronged you, and rebuilding burnt bridges.
Let go of grudges that weigh you down and forgive yourself for past mistakes. We only have one life, so we should try to make it as full of light and love as we possibly can.
Do Something Outside of Yourself
Our lives are naturally selfish because we are a “self”. Whatever you decide on your list of things to do before you die, let it serve others as much as it serves yourself.
Take every opportunity you can to express love often and create meaning where there is none. Keep learning about who you are, have compassion for strangers, and enrich your experience here in life.