About a week ago I heard the story of a successful businessman who had suffered a stroke. He came close to death and yet, his life was spared, he made a relatively good recovery and was able to return to his life without complication. Except that life of his had changed dramatically in the process of coming so close to death. Instead of returning to work and continuing to go about his affluent lifestyle, the man compulsively began to give his wealth away. When asked about it, he said he felt like he had no choice but to give what he had to others in need. Everyday the man would buy lunch or fill up cars with gas for complete strangers. Today the man cannot stop giving away his life's earnings. He had a near death experience and has never been the same.
"What if you could have the life-changing effect of a near death experience without the pain, the hospitals, the drama and the potential loss? What if you could live a more meaningful life now - while it's up to you - and be happier, more fulfilled, more alive..? What if..?"
This is the book teaser found on the back cover of My Near Death Experiment, a new release by author, pastor, speaker and critical thinker, Caleb Anderson. In the introduction of the book, Anderson shares that several years ago he was working with college students who, by in large, lacked direction, passion for life and a general sense of purpose. And so began the concept of My Near Death Experiment. A tool used to help young people make positive choices with their lives. And it was successful.
What was meant to be a tool for others, became a reality for Anderson. His new wife's mother suddenly passed away from cancer. What was originally meant for young people, became personal to Anderson and he realized he too needed My Near Death Experiment, a reevaluation of the life he was living, of the directon he was heading and of the choices he was making.
And so began his journey to catalogue his learnings and experiences into the book. Structured after a funerals proceedings, the book is categorized into the following sections:
Within each section, Anderson shares stories and insights into a variety of topics ranging from finding inspiration, to snuffing out our pride, discovering greatness, to finding peace and forgiveness. Each chapter within the sections above are small and designed to be gateways towards greater reflection and personal application in our own lives. At the end of the bite sized chapters, Anderson provides an experiment tool, questions to help challenge the way we live and the choices we're making in our own lives. But he doesn't just leave the reader hanging there. He takes a step further by offering what he calls actions; recommendations on how to help carry out a new and perhaps, healthier action in our lives.
One of my favorite chapters in the book is titled Influence 20. In it, Anderson talks about how 20 people are directly influenced by 1 persons behaviors. For example, 1 alcoholic is negatively influencing the lives of 20 others around them. And what if we reversed that to be a positive influence? What if, you, 1 person, could positiviely influence 20 others around you? Can you imagine the ripple effect of that in our world today? Anderson ends the chapter with, "Your life will speak long after you're gone. What will it say about how you chose to live?" The Experiment follows:
Question: When is the last time you thought about the imprint you're leaving on the world - the legacy you will leave when you die?
As you can see, the book and its experiements are absolutely challenging. Which is one of the reasons why My Near Death Experiment is such a vital read for so many today who crave meaning and purpose throughout life.
Anderson ends the book with what he calls a Death Contract. The contract begins, "Death, I'm not afraid of you. I know you're coming for me, but you have no power. You have lost your sting. In fact, I'm using you. I'm using your haunting reality to make the most of today, and tomorrow." It goes on to declare more bold statements along the same lines and ends with Death Experiment Commitments the reader is encouraged to fill in as it pertains to his or her life. Commitments such as:
This is the authentic manner in which I want to live...
This is a book I'll read again and perhaps even a third time due to the amount of truth and practical application it provides. And it's definitely one I have been talking about within my own community. So check it out and be sure and also take a look around the book website.
"Proximity to Death Brings Clarity to Life."