Why Is Life So Short? (15 Reasons Why)

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Isabelle O'Gallagher

Isabelle O'Gallagher is a personal development and relationship expert who has consulted for some of the biggest companies in America.

Life: the existence of a living individual. A system that allows us to eat, breathe, move, reproduce, and feel. It’s what all of us have too much and too little of.

The average life expectancy of a human being is 75 years old. This might seem like a long time, but this figure isn’t comparable to the sheer age of our universe. That makes us wonder: why is life so short?

Why Is Life So Short?

1. Time Is Permanent

One of the biggest reasons why life is so short is because we can’t turn back time. Time moves in one constant line and never stops for anyone.

In a way, it’s both our biggest friend and foe. On one hand, it gives us the opportunity to grow. On the other, it doesn’t give us a second chance to correct the mistakes of our past.

The permanence of time is the reason why life is so short—we never seem to have enough of it.

2. Death Is Inevitable

If there’s one thing we can be certain of, it’s that death is inevitable. Unless you’re an immortal being, you can never truly avoid death.

For many, that certainty is comforting. In death, we’re all one and the same, regardless of color or status.

But that’s what also makes life so short: despite the guarantee of death, there’s no way to tell when it’s going to happen. You never know how much time you have left.

Life is short because death exists. We’ve yet to discover the secret to immortality. Until that time comes, we’ll have to face the inevitable truth that we’ll pass on sooner or later.

3. You Can’t Change The Past

Though theoretically possible in certain space-time geometries, we’ve yet to master the art of time travel.

For now, we’ll have to swallow the pill of inevitable truth: we can’t change the past, no matter how much we want to.

Life would be infinitely longer otherwise. Unfortunately, the fact that we can’t change the past only adds further proof that life is too short.

4. We’re Nothing But A Small Blip In The Cosmos

Here’s the cold, hard truth of our existence: humanity, as we know it, is nothing more than a microscopic blip in the universe. This is just an objective fact of human life.

With an estimated life expectancy of 75 years, human life is nothing on a universal scale.

When you look at the centuries and millennia that pass in the universe, our life seems extremely short in comparison.

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5. We Work Most Of Our Lives

According to research, an average person spends 90,000 hours at work, give or take a few hundred.

This means that we spend at least a third of our lives at work, which doesn’t leave us enough time to pursue what we really want to do.

When the time comes for us to retire, our peak years are gone and we might not have enough time or energy to live how we wanted to live in our youth.

It forces us to live a regular life until the day death comes knocking on our door.

It’s a grim reality, but it’s a reality most of us will and currently experience.

6. We Never Seem To Have Time To Do Things

For many people, modern life can be stressful.

We never seem to have the time (or energy) to do all the things we want or need.

There’s always something that keeps us from doing what we love, whether it’s work, the environment, or the people around us.

When the weekend comes around, it always seems like we have limited time and so many things to get done.

We have an overwhelming number of things to balance, understand, and act upon. Even grocery shopping can be a pain, sometimes!

7. We Grow Up Way Too Fast

When I was a child, I always wanted to be an adult. Adults have it much easier than kids—or so I thought.

Now that I’m a fully-fledged adult, there’s nothing more I want than to stop time. Time goes way too fast and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.

With today’s social media, kids are pressured to grow faster than they should.

Perhaps this is due to the boom of technology, making young kids intellectually savvier than children from decades ago.

Increased access to social media forces children to confront adult realities even before they’re developmentally ready to do so.

They didn’t have the time to experience the innocence of childhood before they were plunged into adulthood.

When that happens, a conclusion is reached: life is short because we grow up way too fast.

8. We Can’t Have Everything We Want

We Can't Have Everything We Want 

Life is too short because we can’t have everything we want.

There’s so much value in life—love, freedom, family, happiness, money, independence, and the list goes on.

But therein lies the problem: you can only prioritize one at a time.

Everything we have comes at the expense of something else. For everything we acquire, we exchange it for something of equal value.

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If you want money, you’ll have to trade time. If you want freedom, you’ll have to sacrifice security.

Whatever we manage to get in life, there’s always something missing, something we can’t have—because life’s too short to prioritize them all.

9. Life Is Chaos

As humans, we crave stability and order; the security of cause and effect

We like knowing that when a glass falls on the ground, it shatters. Additionally, we like knowing that eating reduces hunger.

We like knowing that if we do something good, we’ll receive something good in return. If we work hard and wholeheartedly for something, we’ll achieve it.

But unfortunately, life isn’t so straightforward. Life isn’t a video game, coded with a “bad” ending, a “good” ending, and a “neutral” ending.

Life is unexpected. It doesn’t follow rhyme or reason. It doesn’t fit a template. It can change the course of your life in an instant with no remorse or warning.

That’s what makes life so short—for all its chaos and twists, there’s barely enough time for us to keep up. We’re all just in it for the ride. Things happen randomly around us, beyond our control.

10. Sleep Is Necessary

Life feels short because sleep is a requirement.

Like going to work, we sleep for one-third of our lives. If you live to, say, 75 years, you’ll spend 9,125 days—or 25 years—just sleeping. We also spend seven years just trying to get to sleep.

All that time spent sleeping or trying to sleep could’ve been spent doing something else entirely, but due to how our bodies are wired, not sleeping is something we can’t afford.

We need sleep to survive. Without enough sleep, we won’t be able to function properly.

This is an unfortunate fact of life because if we didn’t have to spend so long lying in bed, life probably won’t seem as short as it is.

11. There’s Only So Much We Can Achieve

Success and achievement are more or less relative. But your greatest achievement is different from someone else’s.

Your greatest achievement might be graduating college, completing a backflip, or birthing a child.

Someone else’s achievement is something different entirely, like winning a Nobel prize or curing cancer.

With how long we’re allowed to live on this Earth, there’s only so much we can truly achieve.

Most of us may never lead a life of wealth, prestige, and luxury, no matter how much we want to.

We don’t have thousands of years to accumulate enough knowledge to advance civilization as we know it. This fact is both a curse and a blessing brought upon the shortness of our lives.

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12. We’re Ruled By Money And Material Things

Some people aren’t tied by money and material things, but most are.

This “obsession” with money and material things can significantly shorten your lifespan because to earn money, you’ll have to sacrifice time.

13. We Live A Fast Life

In the grand scheme of things, life in itself isn’t short.

What makes it feel short is our obsession to live a fast life.

We’re so focused on other things that we forget to stop and smell the flowers, so to speak.

Living a fast life makes life itself feel extremely short.

14. We Always Worry About The Future

Those who constantly worry about the future don’t have time to live in the present.

It not only prevents them from enjoying the current but also wastes a ton of energy along the way.

This leads to burnout, lack of work-life balance, and unproductivity—which makes life feel shorter than it actually is.

15. Work Sucks The Life Out Of Us

Regardless of who you are and what you do for a living, one thing’s for certain: you spend most of your waking hours at work.

Evenings and weekends are a brief reprieve from the routine of life and work, but when your life revolves around the weekend binge, you forget to live in the moment.

When the weekend arrives, you’d have “wasted” five days of your life, and the cycle goes on.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on why you hate showering, why you can’t run in your dreams, and why people copy you.


There are a lot of reasons why life is so short. It’s short because time is permanent and you can’t change the past. It’s short because death is a certainty while life isn’t. We work most of our lives and grow up way too fast in a world ruled by money, fame, and material items.

If there’s anything to take away from this article, it’s that life is way too short to regret the past. Live in the present and worry not about the future. This way, you can make the most out of the short period of living.


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