Death and Taxes

Creative Difference

The old joke is that there are two things that can’t be avoided in life – death and taxes. If you watch the news, you know plenty of people try to avoid taxes and some of them get caught. A lot of us also try to avoid death.

We do this in a variety of ways, apparent in our culture’s fascination with staying youthful, accumulating wealth or being famous. To stay youthful we may be obsessed with fitness or appearance, as if this can turn back the clock of our bodies. Having money beyond what we need and accumulating material goods may distract us from our own degeneration, as we build a tangible legacy. Or we might be obsessed with celebrity status, or good deeds for others, or being well known, as if our reputation can enable us to exist past death. All these examples are open to other interpretations, and there is nothing wrong with keeping healthy, having enough money for your needs, or doing good deeds. It is when the concern with one or more is obsessive that we might wonder if something else is going on.

Another way we might spot death anxiety is more obvious; dreams and thoughts about death that feel overwhelming. This may happen as a result of bereavement, a near death experience, or may develop slowly.

Death may be our friend, if we look him in the eye, because knowing death may help us live better.   This is really hard to do, as if we do confront how we feel about death and dying, we are also confronted by the question of how we should live in the shadow of death.

The philosopher Nietzsche posed this question as a thought experiment: imagine that you will live your life over and over again forever exactly as it is, with nothing new, down to the tiniest thought, action or emotion.   Would you be filled with joy at that thought, or would you be filled with regret? Knowing that everything will repeat, what would you do from now onwards to experience joy rather than regret?

The point of Nietzsche’s thought experiment is to provide a small shock, to increase our awareness of how we are really living. It suggests that we should live this life, our only life, well and fully and accumulating as few regrets as possible.

I can’t advise you on reducing your tax burden, but I can help you live a fuller life so that you can die well.  To do this I might echo one of Nietzsche’s favourite sayings; “become who you are”.


If you’d like to talk about any other life coaching issues, please feel free to contact me on  I offer a free half hour Life Coaching telephone assessment to see if working together could be beneficial for you. If you’d like to understand more about Life Coaching please watch my video at


Chris Paul

Life Coach

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