Thinking About Death More Often Can Improve Physical Health And Make You Nicer

Thinking About Death More Often Can Improve Physical Health And Make You Nicer

Most people try their hardest not to think about death in their day-to-day, but a review of recent research studies published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Review suggests that when you think about death on a regular basis you actually lead a better life.

Photos remixed from bikehikedive and Mike Fernwood.

The review study looks back at a number of tests that have been performed over the last five years and found that when primed with the thought of death, either unconsciously or consciously, people are more likely to have a positive attitude towards others and themselves.

For instance, recent studies have shown that when you’re reminded of death you’re more likely to use sunscreen and increase your levels of exercise. Others show that you’re more likely to help strangers and be nicer to people. Death isn’t the most pleasant thing to think about and it certainly has its share of negatives, but before you go shutting it out completely remember that it can also be a powerful motivator.

How Thinking About Death Can Lead to a Good Life [ScienceDaily]


  • I recently read “How to live : or, A life of Montaigne in one question and twenty attempts at an answer” (highly recommended). In it was a description of a wealthy Greek from antiquity who re-enacted his death every evening with the slaves reciting lamentations and him being carried out in a coffin etc. Memento mori taken to excess perhaps.

  • This isn’t new. The Stoics of Ancient Greece and Rome advocated spending time thinking about negative possibilities. What if your child died? You lost your sight? You became poor?

    Thinking about these things allows you to appreciate the things you have and possibly spend more time enjoying time with your kids, appreciating what you see, and learning which of your possessions are really important to you.

    William Irvine’s “A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy” is a good readable introduction.

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