About a month ago Paul Graham highlighted an article by a Palliative care nurse named Bronnie Ware. She put together a list of the 5 biggest regrets of the dying. I suggest everyone go and read that before continuing.
So the question is why can't people, even after reading that article, find the strength to do those things until they're faced with death? The reason is, we don't know when death will come, therefore we don't fear it. And without the fear of death, we can't stop fearing the choices we have to live with. You think you fear death. You say, "You don't see me skydiving, do you?" Fearing skydiving, doesn't mean you fear death. If the whole world feared death, the planet's entire infrastructure would crumble. Not fearing death is what makes this world work. It's what makes us get up in the morning and go to the office. It makes us have kids, and teach them, and love them. If we all feared death, we'd be paralyzed. We wouldn't get into cars. We wouldn't go swimming. We wouldn't live our lives. Humans don't fear death. Out of sight, out of mind. Humans fear rejection, humiliation, failure. We fear the things we must live with. You never hear people on their death bed saying, "I wish I would have gone bungee jumping." Why? Cause bungee jumping doesn't change lives. We fear the things that could change our lives. And that's why when we're faced with death, we start to regret not taking life changing risks.
What's extremely interesting is, if we didn't fear humiliation, rejection, failure, etc, the world would crumble in a different way. Imagine your investment manager didn't fear failure? Imagine your haircutter didn't fear humiliation. Imagine every guy didn't fear rejection when approaching a woman. The world would be chaos. No woman could walk the streets without a taser if, rejection, humiliation and failure, weren't a constant presence in the minds of every 25 year old man.
I think the world is in perfect balance. We don't fear death, so we live our lives. But we live them with restraint, because we don't want to live with humiliation, or failure, or rejection. The real question is this: What would happen if every human being was born knowing the date they would die? Would the world be better, or worse?