If our ancient Mayan ancestors were anywhere near as good at predicting the future as they were at building elaborate palaces for their gods—according to their calendar, the year 2012 marks humanity’s last hurrah. Depressing, surreal, outrageous and mysterious no doubt, but perhaps also a moment in time that, as nebulous and scary as it may seem simultaneously allows us, pushes us, to express the fullness of our joie de vivre, the pulse of appreciation and zest for life that (if we allow it to) can transform every day life into a treat.
With that in mind, here is our list of 10 things you must do in case the Mayans were right—a no-regrets agenda that will make sure we’re all chockful of stories for wherever we’re going next. Even if the Mayans were wrong, at least you’ll move into the next chapter of your existence with 10 new empowering notches on your experiential belt. And who knows, maybe you’ll come up with another 10 of your own…
10 THINGS YOU MUST DO IN CASE THE WORLD ENDS (…AND EVEN IF IT DOESN’T)
- Go on a Crazy Adventure—Adventures are the reasons we love going to the movies—the thrill, the suspense, the great unknown of what is to come. But as we get older, we become more prone to sinking into routine, which can sometimes forge a sense of bland monotony that can make us feel like we are stuck in a rut. A good hearty adventure shakes us from our comfort zone and makes us come alive, reminding us that there is a whole world out there beyond the bubble of reality that we have defined for ourselves. Adventures are relative: someone might travel to India, while someone else might book a ticket to Burning Man. Tap into to whatever your own personal Eat Pray Love quest looks like, and find a way to make it happen.
- Dare to Indulge—Tasting new foods for the first time is one of those things that puts us right back into early childhood, when there was the precious sense of newness in all the stimulation that we received. With that in mind, this is a great time to get over your hang-ups about those foods you’ve never had the stomach to try and well…try them! Have a dozen oysters, indulge in a piece of raw sea urchin, dare to order the fried frog legs—but taste whatever it is that you know has always somehow in the past piqued your interest. Go head, be that foodie.
- Do Something Good for Mankind—Besides waking up skinny or haphazardly running into Don Draper/Jon Hamm in an elevator, few things in life truly feel as good as doing good. Everyone knows there is a direct correlation between lasting inner peace, self-satisfaction and acts of generosity and compassion, and it is because acts of kindness such as these allow us to outwardly channel the highest of our energetic capacities, taking us out of our ego realms, and connecting us with the world. From giving money to charities to giving hours of one’s time, there are countless ways to express personal philanthropy, an agenda that we should all learn to cultivate as our collective effort to heal the world—whether it’s ending or not.
- Transcend—Research has shown time and again that meditation reduces anxiety (by relaxing the endocrine system) and improves emotional stability, focus and concentration, among countless other benefits. It would seem timely then, to really master the art of quieting our minds, to be able to see reality as it is, and not as we would like it to be; to learn how to be—and stay—in the moment; to achieve a state of effortless serenity on our own, no matter what. So that whatever happens, we learn how to observe without attachment, grateful for every second of our existence and totally equanimous as the universe does what it does.
- Create and Express—What a better way to celebrate the glory of creation than by actually creating something yourself? Creativity is an elemental part of the human experience, which explains why we are so moved when we hear a certain piece of music, or when we see again a particular painting that struck us once so long ago. There is great delight in not only witnessing or partaking of such art objects, but also in crafting them, in spawning such creations from the white-hot center of one’s self—total unbridled self-expression. Most people have always wanted to learn how to paint or draw, forgetting the simple fact that as kids, one of the first things we are inclined to do is pick up a crayon to draw. Creativity and self-expression gives a dynamic voice to our complex inner lives.
- Go Somewhere New—It is probably safe to say that travel is high on the list of people love to do most, the special chance to see and experience new places, people, food, sights, cultures, languages and traditions. Travel not only plucks us from our comfort zones, but in doing so also moves us far from our egos, especially when we go to places where people live differently than we are accustomed to seeing. Travel reminds us of the vastness of the world, and bursting our pre-conceived bubbles of reality wide open, and showing us that there is always more.
- Dance Until Dawn—When we think back to our teen or college years, some of our best memories often come from those nights when the excitement for life, the music and the company were so perfectly synchronized that we literally had no choice but to dance through the night until we saw the first light of the sun. Dancing can be akin to the greatest therapy in the world, freeing the body, the inhibitions and the spirit, and melting a person into the sheer and simple joy of physically enjoying music. Dancing is positive. Dancing is healing. Dancing is expressive—all the kinds of things we should be aiming for during possible times of uncertainty and fear.
- Laugh Hysterically—It is a cliché because it is true: laughter really is the best medicine, so at a time when we are feeling uncertain, scared, straight-up confused about how to go about our lives, laughing is by far among the healthiest things we can do. Laughing not only relieves stress and emits positive energy, but it also releases us from the bonds of what we feel are our issues, and places us, connects us with the comedic pulse of our fellow mankind. Laughing done right is true freedom.
- Plant Something—If we believe that we should nurture all of our important relationships, then we should without a doubt also nurture the one we have with the earth. Planting can be a lovely gesture of that bond by connecting us with the power of creation and showing us, first-hand, the miracles of life.
- Do Something Special for a Stranger—What the world needs now is love, sweet love—so why not take it upon yourself to consciously do nice things for other people, for no good reason at all. Fund a stranger’s Kickstarter campaign, give that subway musician a couple of bucks, offer to take your neighbor’s recycling bag out. The point is to somehow make someone’s day—or even their hour—remembering the age-old schema that what goes around comes around (here and wherever the next iteration looks is).
Practice Radical Self-Love—This one is the most important. If the world is going to end, let it do so with our knowing that we drank from our experiences with our hearts full of love and gratitude for our wonderful lives. Regardless of any apocalypse, all of us are going to die anyway, so it should always be our plight to treasure the time we have. When we truly love ourselves we are in line with our essence, and when that happens, our potential becomes limitless.