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  • Writer's pictureRyan Luby

A reminder of death

Memento Mori - “an object serving as a warning or reminder of death”

“Memento Mori—the ancient practice of reflection on mortality that goes back to Socrates, who said that the proper practice of philosophy is “about nothing else but dying and being dead.” In early Buddhist texts, a prominent term is maraṇasati, which translates as ‘remember death.’ Some Sufis have been called the “people of the graves,” because of their practice of frequenting graveyards to ponder on death and one’s mortality” - Ryan Holiday

You might think this is all so depressing. But if so, you’re doing it wrong. In fact there is nothing more inspiring than the truth that you will die.

And you might still feel despite the rich history of using death as a healthy reminder to inspire one’s purposeful action, that this is not a practice you could use, but you would be wrong again.

You have both experienced and will experience again the benefits of memento mori in your own life. It’s a big reason everyone is far more kind and warm after tragic events, it’s the reason we practice living a little better after going to a wake, and the reason a simple colorful bracelet for any cause could impact your life far more than you would have thought.

Unfortunately it seems most people run around distracted only stopping to appreciate their life, when they get hit hard with a big memento mori.

Don’t let this be you.

Thinking about death as we have covered has been a practice for hundreds of years, and it’s because it works.

I promise you, you will die. That I am sure about. So will I.

And there is nothing more invigorating and humbling than that truth.

Don’t let traffic, or work, or any other stressor linger for too long.

Because if you knew for sure today was your last day, you wouldn’t.

Give yourself an actual time limit when you feel yourself getting a little too caught up in life. Stress, complain, yell about it for 90 seconds. Then..

Use memento mori to its fullest. After those 90 seconds say aloud or in your head, if I knew I was going to die today would this matter?

If you would like to, you could even carry around a memento mori object with you as Author Ryan Holiday does, and he sells them on his site.

Again, this is not about “Ahhh what’s the point I am going to die anyways..” That person is doing it wrong.. Obviously.

Remembering you will die is not supposed to make you feel your actions are pointless.

It’s the opposite.

A regular reminder about your death is a meaningful practice that nudges you closer to living the life you want. Because it encourages you to live a meaningful life, fueled by your search for your own life’s purpose.

“In his Meditations—essentially his own private journal—Marcus Aurelius wrote that “You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.” - Ryan Holiday

Learn more on this:

Article: The Daily Stoic

Blog: 13 Habits to do every day

Video: Stoicism

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