14. (Don’t) Fear The Reaper?

The song (Don’t Fear) The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult from 1976 is about the inevitability of death and takes us by the hand to let go of the fear about it.
But if death is final here on earth, how can we be happy?

Accepting emotions

When you start to embrace emotions – good or bad – you start to open up a vulnerability that lets connection happen.

But this isn’t immediately natural or easy for most of us. Especially as men, we’re not embracing our emotions and certainly not fear.

Often, we’re running from our emotions instead. Because avoiding it is the path of least resistance in the short term.

We try to use logic to think, or analyze, how to navigate our way through situations that don’t require it at all. Logic does not serve us there and falls short.

Because there are things in our lives that leave no, or very little, room for logic. Like death. The most brutal truth of all.

Ignoring the inevitability of death is impossible. But we give it our best efforts because acknowledging the finality of it all provokes the most uncomfortable questions:

Do you have unfinished business? Are you leaving something on the table? Are you not following through, while you would actually like and need to?

If death is final, how can we be happy?

That’s exactly how. When you accept the finality of the fate of death here in this life on earth, you begin to appreciate the moment, and that appreciation leads you to deeper sources of pure happiness.

Often, we are under the impression that we have to go out and get happiness. That we have to achieve it. By buying things, watching things, achieving things, getting attention, becoming popular. 

Looking for external conditional happiness – something over which we have no, or only partial, control – versus finding happiness internally.

By discovering that it is something we can just be. Without all the countless conditions that we have created ourselves.

Choosing happiness

Happiness is about going back to that core truth. And reminding ourselves – daily – that it is within us. This sounds like a huge cliché and yet it is so easy to forget this truth in today’s distracted world.

A distracted world with countless tempting but ultimately empty stimuli every day, which ensure that we continuously have distracted thoughts.

The truth is that our happiness is also a conscious choice. But our ambition makes us think it’s not.

We forget to celebrate the small victories because we’re in such pursuit of the bigger ones. We fool ourselves by thinking we need more and more, and more.

But we have the ability to use our mental flashlight to highlight the things that make us happy, or the things that make us sad. Depending on the thoughts that play in our heads.

It is our choice where we direct our attention and where we focus on. Just like the accompanying stories we tell ourselves and the labels we put on events.

When we can get rid of the conceptual mind – the part of us that always functions on autopilot and is therefore our default mode – that always wants more and more and more, and for which it is NEVER enough.

If we move away from that, make a shift, and instead descend as deeply as we can into our awareness, appreciating the present moment….

THAT is the moment when real happiness can start to flow.

And that all starts with taking a mental moment and making a conscious decision. Every day again. It’s about habits and rituals that serve us.

This trains our mind and therefore our mindset, and it takes the preference away from our functioning as a soul for our standard brain, on autopilot.

Then we can learn to become happy, instead of just surviving; something our brains are conditioned for.

Focusing on things we are grateful for, instead of what ‘goes wrong’ and expecting all kind of things that can never be met.

Practicing daily gratitude and letting our attention flow to the things that are good in our lives.

And that’s a decision we can make right now.

Permanently euphoric?

It is difficult to go from mainly, or even permanently, angry or depressed, to constantly enjoying yourself, and fortunately you don’t have to because it is not realistic.

We often think that ‘being happy’ is enjoyment. Euphoria. And social media sometimes makes it seem – because we only see 1 layer – as if the outside world always lives in that wonderful state of being.

But if it had to be that way all the time, it would not only be unrealistic, but also kind of exhausting.

Enjoyment, or ultimate satisfaction (a euphoric feeling) is a high level of happiness, but it is only one layer of happiness. As there are different layers:

  1. (Self-)acceptance, which in essence is also (self-)love. Difficult for us ambitious people who are always pursuing the next new goal. But it is the starting point, otherwise you risk never appreciating what is already there. So that the other layers cannot develop;
  2. Appreciation;
  3. Gratitude. A deeper layer of appreciation. And then;
  4. Love; you start to love something.

Start with the first layer, and the others will follow. Acceptance of what is and acceptance of ourselves; our lives so far and who we are now. Not as a victim, but as a fact that gives us strength.


If death is final here on earth, how can we be happy?
Death is the truth. We should not lie to ourselves and face all our emotions, especially fear.

When we do so – and do it with attention – we will feel, they will start to change form.

The fear will then ‘notice’ we are not so fearful anymore. We don’t hold on to it anymore. Our resistance has transferred into; just being.

Slowly it loses grip on us and eventually it will disappear. Maybe not forever, but certainly structurally.

We consciously focus on other things. The appreciation for all the little moments along our path. The ‘little’ things that we can be grateful for today, that can suddenly turn out to be big things.

The acceptance and appreciation can grow into gratitude and (self) love.

Then we have managed to accept the reality of death as a given, without paying too much attention to it. Because we are far too busy consciously using our precious time here. We have reached the ultimate imperturbability.

Just like the seasons, the wind, the sun and the rain – each of which is itself an unchangeable fact – they too allow death to be, without being dazzled or blushed by it.

Being one with nature as a constant; changeable as the seasons, but at the same time as still as a big boulder.

We can be like they are.

All our times have come
Here but now they’re gone
Seasons don’t fear the reaper
Nor do the wind, the sun or the rain
We can be like they are

Come on, baby (don’t fear the reaper)
Baby, take my hand (don’t fear the reaper)
We’ll be able to fly (don’t fear the reaper)
Baby, I’m your man

La, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la

Valentine is done
Here but now they’re gone
Romeo and Juliet
Are together in eternity (Romeo and Juliet)
40, 000 men and women everyday (like Romeo and Juliet)
40, 000 men and women everyday (redefine happiness)
Another 40, 000 coming everyday (we can be like they are)

Come on, baby (don’t fear the reaper)
Baby, take my hand (don’t fear the reaper)
We’ll be able to fly (don’t fear the reaper)
Baby, I’m your man

La, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la

Love of two is one
Here but now they’re gone
Came the last night of sadness
And it was clear she couldn’t go on

Then the door was open and the wind appeared
The candles blew and then disappeared
The curtains flew and then he appeared
Saying don’t be afraid

Come on, baby (and she had no fear)
And she ran to him (then they started to fly)
They looked backward and said goodbye (she had become like they are)
She had taken his hand (she had become like they are)
Come on, baby (don’t fear the reaper)

Blue Oyster Cult – (Don’t Fear) The Reaper

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