A Gift From the Mayans
4 truths I learned from an ancient civilization that guide me to a promising future
According to the Mayan calendar, the 5125 year-long cycle ended on December 21, 2012.
The idea made for some interesting movies and several best-selling books — many of which were mostly over-dramatized fiction with little basis in fact.
There were, however, a small group of people who had construed this event to be the literal end of time — and life — on this planet.
Other radical interpretations suggested the “end-of-days calendar” was really a kind of astronomic timetable, warning us of apocalyptic changes in weather and geo-centricity that could result in the loss of much of the world’s infrastructure that we now take for granted.
The world’s leading experts had assured us we had little to fear. And that in all likelihood, December 21, 2012, would come and go without incident — and with most people’s thoughts focused on Christmas shopping, holiday parties, and eggnog.
It seems like a shame, really, to have an ancient civilization like the Mayans — who left us with such a nifty collection of temples and the basis for modern-day astronomy — predict such a significant event without attributing some credibility to their efforts.
Maybe our mistake in considering the 2012 prediction was our “all or nothing” context.
By thinking only in terms of extreme opposites — catastrophic prophecy or entirely meaningless timekeeping — we might have overlooked a more fertile middle-ground.
Just for fun, let’s consider the re-setting of the Mayan calendar with a different mentality.
What if, rather than predicting a cataclysmic end to our way of life, the Mayans were encouraging future generations to periodically examine their lives, re-evaluate their priorities and, if necessary, make a few changes?
Personally, I like the idea.
And it started me thinking …
What if, for the next few months, I decided to live my life as if the world really was coming to an end?
How would I spend my time? Where would I go? Who would I want to see — and what would we talk about — if I knew it would be my last conversation with that person?
I quickly realized it would put a different perspective on the way I use my time — a different set of rules to live by.
Now I was hooked.
I decided to determine what my New Rules would be, considering them as little reminders to keep me focused on the things in life that were important.
If you find any of them useful, feel free to borrow, modify, or adapt to your own situation — not only for the balance of this year, but for all the years to come.
Go your own way.
Live life by your standards.
If you decide to adopt other people’s lifestyles, dictates, and doctrines, do so only if it’s right for you.
Once we’ve reached adulthood, we’ve earned the right to call our own shots — to live where we choose, see who we want, and to spend our time in ways that are personally satisfying.
As long as our choices don’t hurt others, we have the right to explore the opportunities of a lifetime.
Use every day to advantage.
Recognize that the days are passing.
Our time is limited, so make each day count for something.
When we’re twenty, the future is a vague and seemingly endless string of tomorrows. But those with the majority of their years behind them often encourage us to spend our time consciously, and in ways that make us — and others — happy.
One of my closest family friends (now eighty-six) put it extremely well:
“Don’t celebrate your eightieth birthday still wishing you had traveled more, worried less, made more friends, visited family more often, repaired broken relationships, or been more willing to try new things.”
Whether you are looking at another fifty years or another five, live every day in appreciation of how you spend your time.
Remain flexible to change.
Remember, life is what happens while you’re planning your future.
It seldom works out the way we think it will. But it does work out.
Being receptive to alternative experiences can be a real source of joy and excitement.
Regardless of what happens, don’t take it too seriously.
Socrates suggested it. Shakespeare said it. And Will Rogers made it a classic.
Most recently, it was repeated very eloquently by Bill Harris, a brain-wave researcher and founder of the Centerpointe Research Institute:
“We adopt the role of actor, witness, or author, giving our hearts fully to the game of life, knowing all the while that it is a great diversion and will eventually end.” — Bill Harris
Personally, I’m looking forward to living life to its fullest on every December 21st, and in all the days that follow.
© 2020 Jill Reid. All Rights Reserved.
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Jill Reid is the author of Real Life, and founder of Pathway to Personal Growth and Kitchen Spirit. Her books and articles explore life, happiness, self-improvement, health, productivity, relationships, and personal success strategies for living longer and stronger through positive lifestyle choices.