YOLO Is About Living Right, Not Wild



You only live once. We’ve all read it on social media at some point, probably more often in its popular abbreviated form: YOLO. The problem is, despite however much we tweet or share or story about it, most of us probably don’t live a true YOLO lifestyle. That is a shame, considering how important to our psychological health it is that we do live every day like it’s our last.


What am I yapping on about here? Well, as the author Mark Mason wrote many times in his two books titled “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” and “Everything is F*cked: A Book About Hope,” we must all confront a common uncomfortable truth throughout our infinitesimally-short lives: we’re all gonna die at some point, and the universe, and indeed most people alive, won’t care or miss us after we do (well, maybe except a few certain celebrities and personalities who were adored by the public, but you get the point).


Read that again: We’re all gonna die, and (mostly) no one will care about the memory of or miss us after we do. 


Do not take this to mean that nothing matters. No, you should not do whatever you want. On the contrary, what each of us does in life does carry actual weight in the grand scheme of things. We all impact something or someone at all times in every action that we take. If we want to do right by ourselves and by other people, then I think we must, at a minimum, measure our actions according to Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative: Treat other people not as a means to an end but as ends in themselves. So, because every interaction matters, what is the best way to live life?


I believe that the vast majority of people are okay with coasting along on the currents of life. They think life lasts forever as long as they focus on keeping up and reinforcing what they’re already doing. But as I just said, this is ultimately a fantasy. A farce to give ourselves hope for happiness eternal, but remember: we’re all gonna die.


Let’s take a tangent here for a moment away from negative talk about death so we can talk about you now. How do you live life at this point in your story? Are you easy-going? Serious? Uptight? Do you choose the safe option rather than the more-risky but fun and adventurous one? Are you open to meeting new people and forming friendships easily and quickly, or are you more of a closed-off person of few words who prefers a small circle of close friends? Do you need something to work perfectly as you planned it the first time or else you’ll cry over the metaphorical spilled milk, or are you open to learning and growing from mistakes in the process as they come so you can come back later to try again stronger than before? 


And when the inevitable pains of life come around, those inescapable constants that come with being alive on this Earth, do you cave to the pressure and stress and begin falling apart, or worse, begin treating other people as a means to an end? Or, as Manson mentions in his books, do you take only the most-important pains and struggles to you in stride and tackle those with all the patience you can muster? 


I believe that these questions and their answers, among I’m sure several others I couldn’t think of here, are the true measurements of a YOLO lifestyle. Not just partying hard and the excesses that have come to stereotype the meaning of YOLO, but rather the courage to stare death in the face every day and still smile at it as you live well on your own terms. How you want to. In a way that life’s innumerable and eternal struggles are of your choosing, not the other way around. 


Are you living your life in a way so that when you die, you smile with joy rather than lament about the unknown you are about to cross into and what you should have done in life instead?