April 14, 2024


Health is wealth

Memento Mori: A Simple Practice for a Complex Time

16 min read

There is practically nothing more sure in existence than the certainty of death. It is the terrific equalizer of the planet, and it is blind–no matter if a man or woman is abundant or inadequate, nutritious or harmful, good or lousy, intelligent or ignorant, any sentient becoming that ordeals existence need to also knowledge death. It behooves any person who needs to enhance themself to be conscious of death and one’s mortality. 


Memento Mori: A Simple Practice for a Complex Time - Fitness, fitness, meditation, motivation, focus, ego, mind-body connection, self confidence, inspiration, procrastination, mindfullness, goal planning, Life Challenges, fitness motivation



Does That Appear to be Somber? 

It won’t have to be if you have the proper mindset. You can select to stay in relative comfort, stay clear of most threats of hurt, assume the story is unheroically about you, and arrive on death’s shore fairly protected and intact, unmarred by the labor of terrific pursuits in services to a bring about greater than your existence. At the identical time, you are going through the burden of regret for never being aware of the correct extent of your capabilities. 


On the other hand, you can select to depart driving a legacy described by a existence lived with deep reason, which means, moral character, convictions, compassion, and bravery, potent plenty of to encourage people long just after your flesh and bones return to dust and particulate silence. 


Countless people during human heritage have mirrored on death as a way to knowledge existence and stay it to their fullest possible. The practice has had a lot of names in a lot of languages about the millennia, but these times it truly is most normally referred to as Memento Mori.


A Brief Background of Memento Mori

Memento Mori interprets to, “Remember, you need to die.” The practice has a very long heritage that crosses cultures, continents, religions, and philosophies: from the ancient philosophers of Greece to Roman generals, Buddhist monks to Islamic Sufis–meditation on death allowed them all to go after existence.


In Plato’s Phaedo, the terrific thinker Socrates states right before he is about to die: “…he who has lived as a correct thinker has cause to be of good cheer when he is about to die, and that just after death he may hope to obtain the biggest good in the other planet…For I deem that the correct disciple of philosophy is probable to be misunderstood by other adult men they do not perceive that he is at any time pursuing death and dying…”


The example that Socrates established through his existence and right before his execution would depart a long lasting legacy on the entirety of Western civilization and direct to the start of a lot of distinctive colleges of philosophy. 1 school in particular–Stoicism–turning out to be perfectly-regarded as a functional school of philosophy that stressed the significance of contemplating death. The surviving writings of the ancient Stoics are filled with admonitions to try to remember death and the a few most perfectly-regarded Stoics:


  1. The slave, Epictetus
  2. The Roman statesman, Seneca
  3. The Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius


All have one thing to say about death.


All that you see will before long perish these who witness this perishing will before long perish them selves. Die in extraordinary aged age or die right before your time–it will all be the identical.” –Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 9.33



Hold the prospect of death, exile and all these types of apparent tragedies right before you each and every working day–in particular death–and you will hardly ever have an abject considered, or motivation everything to surplus.” –Epictetus, Enchiridion, 21


I am endeavoring to stay each and every working day as if it were being a comprehensive existence. I do not certainly snatch it up as if it were being my last I do regard it, however, as if it could even be my last. The existing letter is created to you with this in head as if death were being about to connect with me away in the very act of crafting. I am completely ready to depart, and I shall love existence just simply because I am not about-nervous as to the foreseeable future day of my departure.” –Seneca, Letters From a Stoic, Letter sixty one


The ancient Romans also practiced the contemplation of death, Memento Mori becoming a Latin phrase.


Memento Mori arrives from a Roman custom in which a normal would take portion in a triumphal procession by way of the metropolis, upon returning to Rome just after a substantial victory. To be the topic of these types of a march was a terrific honor and the motivation of a lot of bold soldiers.


As the triumphant normal was carried by way of the metropolis in his horse-drawn chariot to the terrific applause and praise of the people of Rome, a slave would stand driving him, holding a crown about his head and whispering, “Respice post te. Hominem te memento. Memento mori!”


Glimpse driving you. Remember you are mortal. Remember you need to die!”


This custom was an chance for the normal to toss a grand celebration, and it allowed him some self-marketing, which could occur in handy need to he determine to operate for political workplace sometime. It is a little bit challenging jogging for workplace when nobody’s listened to of you, just after all.


The reason of the slave whispering in his ear was to continue to keep the general’s moi and standpoint in check during the entire celebration, lest he forgets himself and does something disgraceful and offensive to the gods.


Memento Mori: A Simple Practice for a Complex Time - Fitness, fitness, meditation, motivation, focus, ego, mind-body connection, self confidence, inspiration, procrastination, mindfullness, goal planning, Life Challenges, fitness motivation


A couple hundred years afterwards, through the late Center Ages, Memento Mori had formulated into an artwork model regarded as Danse Macabre or the Dance of Dying. At this point in heritage, Europe had just been devastated by the Black Dying pandemic, with the most fatalities at any time recorded in human heritage death was on everyone’s head.


The Danse Macabre was a meditation on the universality of death: no matter how abundant or how inadequate a person is, death arrives for us all. The artwork would typically feature a personification of death (a skeleton or corpse) primary people from distinctive stations in existence–generally a pope, king, emperor, laborer, and boy or girl–in a dance to their graves.


Memento Mori: A Simple Practice for a Complex Time - Fitness, fitness, meditation, motivation, focus, ego, mind-body connection, self confidence, inspiration, procrastination, mindfullness, goal planning, Life Challenges, fitness motivation


In the seventeenth century, Dutch artists made use of a model of nevertheless existence portray regarded as vanitas artwork (from the very first chapter of Ecclesiastes, “All is self-importance.”) as a Memento Mori. The artwork would feature skulls, rotting fruit, candles, hourglasses, dead and wilted bouquets, and more atop tables as effective imagery to remind the viewer of death.


By the nineteenth century, Memento Mori had moved from paintings to jewelry, with people from all walks of existence wearing rings featuring skulls, coffins, the phrase “Memento Mori,” or a blend of the a few as a constant reminder of the wearer’s mortality.


Nevertheless not almost as common in the minds of the normal populace as it the moment was, Memento Mori is owning a fashionable resurgence. Individuals are getting Memento Mori medallions to carry with them in their pockets as a constant reminder that they will a person working day die. Such perfectly-regarded figures as Tim Ferriss, Casey Neistat, and more carry a Memento Mori medallion with them, and even Memento Mori rings are generating a comeback.


I’m a portion of this fashionable resurgence.


Memento Mori and The Twelve Labors Undertaking

Memento Mori is the software that I use to defeat the issues in my existence and locate the inspiration to force by way of any impediment that I see right before me. When I take on physical issues as portion of my Twelve Labors Undertaking, Memento Mori is what keeps me grounded, focused on the existing, and conscious of what really issues in a universe that appears to be unraveling.


Memento Mori: A Simple Practice for a Complex Time - Fitness, fitness, meditation, motivation, focus, ego, mind-body connection, self confidence, inspiration, procrastination, mindfullness, goal planning, Life Challenges, fitness motivation


In 2016, for my 5th labor, I established out by itself in the barren wilderness of the northern Mojave Desert to elevate awareness of veteran suicide by pulling a two.5-ton pickup truck throughout Dying Valley. With a landscape as stunning as it is bleak, my only companions during the 22-mile obstacle were being stones sculpted about the millennia by the desert wind and rain, dunes that mirrored the sun’s blinding mild, the searing heat that burns everything that enters the Valley, and my ideas. 


Each and every mile that I pulled the truck by way of the desert represented a person of the 22 lives that are lost each individual working day to veteran suicide. With each and every phase I took and each and every inch of floor that I gained, Dying Valley would check out a small more challenging to encourage me to take off the upper body harness and give up the obstacle it only at any time bought hotter and drier as the journey progressed. The natural way, the solitude that I knowledgeable through the obstacle compelled me to confront the worst of myself–my doubts, my fears, my insecurities, and anything I had at any time occur to regret in my existence. 


I would take a phase and hear a voice, “Give up! There is no disgrace in quitting.” 


I would take a further phase and convey to myself, “Memento Mori! Remember, you need to die! Remember why you are right here!” 


Reflecting on my mortality and the memory of these who we’ve lost to suicide fortified my methods and designed the seemingly not possible, possible. The dichotomy among death and the existing moment grew to become more apparent than at any time, opening my look at to perspectives and insights that hardly ever right before transpired to me. It was the catalyst I required to get back my momentum and embrace my fate moment by moment with a full heart and unyielding solve.


Remaining by itself in Dying Valley with a two.5-ton pickup truck strapped to your back is a surefire way to occur deal with to deal with with your mortality, and the practice of Memento Mori is what allowed me to stay focused on a goal that was even bigger than myself. I was not striving for recognition when I hauled a truck throughout the desert.


I wanted to elevate the awareness of an alarming difficulty that’s plaguing veterans. Whether or not or not I finished the labor or someone else did was irrelevant, so long as people were being designed informed of the bring about that spurred the obstacle. I could have died at any point through my trek by way of the desert–I could die at any moment, really–the recognition, the accolades, it would all be meaningless to me just after that.


The bring about, however, would stay-on.


On fame. Glimpse at their minds, the nature of their considered and what they look for or stay clear of. And see how, just as drifting sands regularly overlay the prior sand, so in our lives what we the moment did is very quickly protected about by subsequent layers.” –Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, seven.34


How Memento Mori can Spur action

Memento Mori just isn’t just a software to inspire by yourself to drag a truck by way of a hellish landscape–it can also act as a catalyst for motivation and efficiency each and every working day.


Procrastination is a obstacle that most people deal with every day, and I’m no exception. Why trouble obtaining out of bed each and every morning to deal with an uncomfortable planet when comfort can be discovered already below the blankets? Why trouble accomplishing everything at all?


What form of existence would that be?


So it is: we are not specified a quick existence but we make it quick, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it.” –Seneca, On the Shortness of Lifestyle


Seneca realized that we so normally squander existence clinging to idleness and comforts that only provide to distract us from fulfilling our best possible. A existence lived in pursuit of comfort though putting off our obligation is a existence put in throwing away the finite amount of time we have. Discover comfort in the uncomfortable, and try to remember you need to die: why squander your time on minutiae when your time is quick?


If you want to meet particular exercise goals, Memento Mori is the motivator you have to have to get to the health club (or probably your home health club for now) and complete these goals. When you wake up in the morning, established an affirmation for by yourself that you will do what you have to have to do to meet your goals, no matter of the road blocks you may deal with. Remind by yourself of your mortality and that you would instead not devote the treasured time you have left looking at television or sleeping


Which is what I convey to myself each individual working day right before I prepare, and it truly is what you can say to by yourself, far too.


If your goal is to have a healthier diet regime, Memento Mori can aid you to build healthier consuming and consuming practices. Lifestyle is quick–do you want your last times put in in a drunken haze? I question it.


Certain, we are all fated to die a person working day, but that won’t signify that we need to use each and every moment we have in hedonistic pursuits. The cake is good, but need to we try to eat it for each and every food? Of training course not. Overindulgence in harmful consuming and consuming will only bring death quicker, though nutritious practices will provide to continue to keep existence long and aid you attain your fullest possible.


A nutritious human body will make for a nutritious head, just after all.


Memento Mori and World Gatherings

The planet is at the moment going through turbulence that has not been felt in a long time. Climate alter is producing extremes in climate conditions that have led to intense droughts, massive forest and bush fires, and hurricanes, the like of which humanity has not seen considering the fact that biblical occasions.


We are in the center of a global pandemic, with COVID-19 spreading by way of metropolitan areas reminiscent of the Black Plague of the medieval time period. Governments are making use of the panic and distraction triggered by the pandemic to force agendas on the two finishes of the political spectrum.


American law enforcement is below magnified scrutiny due to cases where extreme utilizes of drive and deficiency of human decency resulted in undue death. These things are happening within just an environment of violent riots and tranquil protests versus racial injustice and police brutality.


Some social troubles are becoming conflated with broader ones to embolden movements and attacks versus sure teams. In distinction, other critical troubles are becoming drowned out by a deafening silence exclusively for their deficiency of utility or mere advantage within just the common narrative. 


As an American with deep really like and hope for this place, who also occurs to be a man or woman of color, let us tread by way of these troubled waters alongside one another. I feel that the biggest adversary to justice and inequality for all people are the unacknowledged unions among indifference and management, ignorance and ability, and apathy and panic.


In the words and phrases of the American novelist and activist, James Baldwin, “Not anything that is confronted can be altered, but practically nothing can be altered until it is confronted.”


We need to have the bravery to battle and disintegrate these shadow alliances currently and hereafter, long just after the media moves on from it, and it is no more time trending.


As Og Mandino the moment wrote, “tomorrow is only discovered in the calendar of fools.”


Memento Mori, as a practice through this difficult time in heritage, permits us to deal with our fears, flaws, and failures individually and as a place. These situations compel purposeful action with a feeling of urgency, not from a place of dislike or vengeance, but from a place of empathy and compassion below the premise that this working day, this hour, this moment is all we have.


Tomorrow is not a assure but a mere considered—an assumption of an uncertain foreseeable future time and place arising in the existing.


These steps include defending people’s proper to criticize our country’s shortcomings and peacefully protest them though supporting the constitutional rules upon which The usa stands—all within just the identical breath of enthusiasm and wholehearted conviction. 


We are all dying from a chronic affliction called existence. In real truth, each and every next, we eliminate to laziness, procrastination, or indifference endlessly belongs to death. Each individual chance to do good in the planet, no matter of a person’s race, politics, faith, or social class, gets to be a present when we embrace the truth that each and every human on earth will a person working day knowledge the identical loss of beloved ones and struggling like you. It will make feeling to be form to each and every man or woman we encounter through these complex occasions when we remind ourselves that death is the last arbiter. 


Out of the four Stoic virtues of knowledge, bravery, temperance, and justice, Marcus Aurelius felt that justice was the most critical of them all


And a dedication to justice in your very own acts. Which signifies: considered and action ensuing in the widespread good. What you were being born to do.” –Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 9.31 


When confronted with a form of turmoil that we have not seen for generations, Memento Mori can be the tutorial that will help us navigate by way of the existing climate. Each individual time you observe existing situations on the news or witness injustice going on in entrance of you, you have a selection among action or inaction. Reflection on our mortality can permit us to see the even bigger photo, deal with injustice like a correct Stoic, and existing options dependent on cause and seem judgment.


We need to die, it truly is correct, but need to we die owning performed practically nothing for the profit of the greater good? No. Our lives have which means when we stay according to our rules and stand up for what is proper and good in the planet. Dying arrives to everyone, that’s for confident–there is no point in stressing about when or how it will occur when the most uncertain portion of existence is how we select to stay it.


Immediately after all, death is only the finish below the presumption that the story is exclusively about you. Our good deeds and strength of character are immortal, standing as living monuments in these we inspire—more effective than mere words and phrases on a tombstone can at any time be.


There is a Greek proverb that I come to feel beautifully exemplifies the point I am seeking to make:


A culture grows terrific when aged adult men plant trees whose shade they know they shall hardly ever sit in.”


Possibly we’re not all aged nonetheless, but if we want our culture to increase, then we need to plant the seeds of justice and really like so that foreseeable future generations can love the shade of these trees. Carrying out so is a selection that we need to make, completely conscious of the truth that death arrives to us all sooner or later, but the effects of our decisions stay on in the planet and have an affect on the generations that follow.


You may depart this existence at any moment have this probability in your head in all that you do or say or consider.” –Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, two.11


Taking the information of Marcus Aurelius, we can let the inevitability of our demise notify our way of existence. With each and every solitary selection we make and each and every solitary action we take, we can look at it in mild of our death right before we make that selection or take that action. Ask by yourself these queries: 


Do I want to be remembered as the man or woman who turned away from injustice?” “Am I okay with becoming the bring about of inequality and struggling?” “Do I really come to feel indifferent to the plight of the oppressed?”


When culture lacks correct management, you need to master to appear to your rules to direct by yourself. Living according to your rules may bring about you to stand by itself versus a group it can direct to panic and question, and will almost definitely bring the pressure down on you from personal associates of culture–but you need to stand resolute.


If you can’t stand organization in your convictions though seeking to enhance culture and crumple at the very first indication of pushback or sign up for the group when it acts versus your rules, then you have not stood for everything at all. In chapter 24 of the Enchiridion, Epictetus has the following to say about benefitting communities: 


Effectively, what will my profession in the group be?’ Whatever posture you are geared up to fill, so long as you preserve the gentleman of belief and integrity. If you eliminate that in your zeal to be a community benefactor, what use in the finish will you be to the group the moment you have been rendered shameless and corrupt?”


To that finish, we need to stand up to human indecency in the variety of violence and rioting. What would you hear if you went around your group and explained to people that you robbed their corporations for their profit and wrecked their attributes to protect their legal rights? It is unlikely that you would deal with gratitude from victims of violence and theft, don’t you consider?


Memento Mori can be the catalyst for action, but it can also be the catalyst for restraint. Use it to remind by yourself of what kind of behavior you want people to try to remember. Just as you can check with by yourself queries to aid you take action, you can also check with queries that boost restraint:


Do I want to be remembered as the man or woman who wrecked someone’s livelihood?” “Am I ready to sacrifice my convictions just to satisfy the mob’s lust for violence?” “Will this aid my situation or harm it?”


Memento Mori will be the tutorial that reminds you that there is generally a even bigger photo and that it is not generally intelligent to act, just as it is not generally intelligent to continue being inactive. Epictetus in chapter 33 of the Enchiridion the moment again admonishes us to be organization in our convictions:


Settle on the kind of man or woman you want to be and stick to it, no matter whether by itself or in enterprise.”


When you have made a decision who you want to be, Memento Mori will aid you to stick to it, reminding you when to act and when not to. It requires bravery and sacrifice to do one thing for a bring about greater than by yourself, but you is not going to eliminate by yourself to the baser instincts of the moi so long as you try to remember this:


Glimpse driving you. Remember you are mortal. Remember you need to die!”


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