Meaning in Mortality: The Gratitude Practice You Haven’t Tried Yet

I don't mean to state the obvious here…but at some point, our time on this Earth is going to run out. We are going to die. Everyone around us will too.

Kind of a bummer, I know.

I'm sure you're aware of this, but you probably don't like to think about it. Who does? In fact, most of us try to do anything we can to AVOID thinking about it in the name of not dwelling on the negative. We want to enjoy the time we have now, not think about how it's going to end, right?


I don't mean to throw you for a loop here, but I gotta argue that we need to be thinking about our own mortality not only often, but on PURPOSE. Socrates will back me up on this one.

[Enter: Memento Mori.]

A Latin phrase for “remember you must die”, this spiritual practice dates way back to the Stoics and holds up as one of the most valuable things you can do to maintain perspective in your life.

There are many ways to achieve this perspective, from deep contemplation to something as simple as having a Memento Mori object out where you'll see it often. Something as small as this Daily Stoic coin can serve as a reminder that your time is not a given.

This spiritual practice is not meant to bum you out. Quite the opposite: by choosing to reflect on your own mortality, you're setting yourself up to live a life of meaning right NOW. In remembering death, you're celebrating life. There's a peace and sense of freedom that comes with accepting this reality instead of pushing it away.

Finding Gratitude

Ultimately, Memento Mori urges you to actively choose gratitude in your life, whether you feel like it or not. One of the easiest ways for me to do this is have an app that prompts me to name things I'm grateful for throughout the day. Without those reminders, it can be easy to live your day without any intentionality behind it. Some times will certainly be easier than others, and that's okay.

In the moments we feel perfectly centered and at peace, it's easy to have perspective and be grateful. When you're in the hustle and bustle of life, however, that's when we tend to slip up. Those are the most important moments to express gratitude. In doing so, you can give yourself a little wake-up call to get your perspective back in check.

By pointing us toward gratitude in each moment, we learn to find the love in everything. Little things. Big things. Silly things. Things nobody else notices. Things you could easily complain about or wish away. Things you take for granted.

The more you practice being truly, deeply grateful for each day and all it contains, the more you learn how to truly live.

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