As human beings, we have a natural tendency to avoid thinking about our own mortality. We live our lives as if we'll live forever, without considering the fact that our time on this earth is limited. While it's understandable to want to avoid the discomfort of this reality, it's important to recognize that accepting our mortality can actually help us live better lives.
This is the essence of Memento Mori, a practice that dates back to ancient Rome. The phrase translates to "remember that you will die" and serves as a reminder that death is an inevitable part of life. By acknowledging this fact, we're better equipped to make the most of the time we have.
The Stoics, in particular, were known for their focus on Memento Mori. Seneca, a famous Stoic philosopher, wrote that "You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think." This sentiment is a reminder that life is short, and we should use the time we have wisely.
In practical terms, Memento Mori means actively reflecting on your own mortality. This can take many forms, from contemplating death during quiet moments of reflection to keeping a physical reminder of your mortality, such as a skull or an hourglass.
One way to apply this practice is to visualize your own mortality in a tangible way. For example, you can calculate the number of weeks you've been alive and compare it to the number of weeks you're likely to have left if you live to a certain age. Seeing this visual representation of your time left can help you prioritize what's truly important in your life.
As an example, if you're currently 30 years old and plan to live to 75, you've already lived approximately 1,560 weeks. If you have 45 years left, that's only 2,340 weeks. This exercise can be a wake-up call to how precious time is and encourage you to make the most of every moment.
Memento Mori is a powerful practice that can help us live better lives by reminding us of our own mortality. While it may be uncomfortable to confront this reality, doing so can help us prioritize what truly matters and make the most of the time we have. So take a moment to reflect on your own mortality, and remember to live every day to the fullest.