Memento Mori

The Idea

Contributed by @philhagspiel |  Edited and curated by @philhagspiel

Reminding yourself of your own death can give meaning to your life today.

Life Values

Memento Mori is a Latin phrase meaning 'remember you must die.'

One day, we all die. What sounds obvious often isn't in our minds. We tacitly assume that we will live forever — that we will have enough time to do what we want to do or to tell someone what we want to tell them. While we fear death when we think about it, we act like immortals in what we desire and do.

But our finiteness is the only truly certain thing we know of. We simply don't know when our time will be over — it might be later or sooner than we expect. But it will be.

This finiteness gives meaning to what we do today. It adds a sense of urgency to paying attention to what matters — because we won't have infinitely more opportunities to do so.

We might thus use death as the ultimate reminder of that how we spend our time every day is what matters.

"I cannot escape death, but at least I can escape the fear of it."

— Epictetus

"Let us prepare our minds as if we’d come to the very end of life. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s books each day. The one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time."

— Lucius Annaeus Seneca

“You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.”

— Marcus Aurelius

Go Deep

  • 🎥  Start with this Wisdom Talks video to get a deeper understanding about the concept and where it comes from.
  • 🎥  Watch Lex Fridman and Sheldon Solomon discuss Memento Mori.
  • 🎥  Enjoy this brief snippet of a Ryan Holiday video about the inspirational power of Memento Mori.
  • 📝 If you want to understand how Eastern religions and traditions make use of death reminders, read this section on Wikipedia.

Go Beyond

A few further resources you might like if you find above idea interesting: