Sometimes, we need to let it flow.
And I’m telling you this as a man: Men cry too. It just means you really give a shit about something.
Everyone knows that a man ain’t supposed to cry. Listen, I gotta cry, cause cryin’ eases the pain, aw yeah. – The Temptations
I don’t need to tell you how cathartic crying is, but it’s something I have trouble doing. I’m one of those people who can’t cry when they genuinely wish they could. It takes a hell of a lot to break my emotional levies.
But there’s a strategy I found that can work. It’s simple, powerful, and can make you appreciate life more.
Vividly Picture Your Own Funeral
I picked this up from Harvard behavioral scientist Olivia Fox Cabane in her book The Charisma Myth.
The intention of this exercise is to get you to experience a deeper sense of gratitude for your life and the people around you. Picturing your funeral will accomplish that, and bursting into tears is common for anyone who tries it. So I would suggest doing this somewhere you feel comfortable getting welled up and sniffly.
Once you’re prepared, here is what you imagine:
- Your funeral starts. Picture the people you care most about in the world and the looks on their faces.
- What are they thinking? If each one gave a eulogy, what would they have to say about you and your life? How much would they miss you? What would you be leaving behind?
- What regrets do they have? What would you like to hear them say?
- Picture their pain, or their silence, or their indifference.
Here are the core benefits of this exercise:
- You can cry like you haven’t cried in a long time, and that can help you release enormous emotional burdens.
- You can get an idea of who is most important in your life.
- You can get an idea of who you need to cut out of your life.
- You can discover a new sense of gratitude for your life and the people you don’t want to leave behind.
- You get to rethink what you’re living for and if you’re truly doing the things that make you happy.
Taking yourself out of life’s equation shakes you to your core.
If you take this exercise seriously, it feels as if you died and got a second chance. And if you’ve ever been sick of life and wanted to leave it, you can discover reasons to keep fighting.