5 Ways to Think Differently About Death in Order to Live A Freer, Fuller & Happier Life
There is one universal truth that bonds every single human being on this planet: we are all infinite, spiritual beings having a physical, human experience – and one day, this physical experience as we know it will come to an end.
None of us know when our final day on this earth, what some people call our death date, will be.
It’s natural for this uncertainty to evoke fear.
As a life coach, you may have clients who express anxiety or confusion about how to make the most of their lives in the face of this uncertainty.
The truth is, the awareness of death, of our own mortality, is something to embrace not avoid, if we want to live our best, most fulfilling, joyous lives.
For centuries, across all cultures, humans have explored how contemplating death can lead to freer, fuller lives.
Tibetan monks practice the daily contemplation of their unknown death date – not out of morbidity, but out of reverence.
Similarly, ancient Greek and Roman philosophers of Stoicism adopted the principle of “memento mori,” which translates to “remember that you have to die,” and is the regular practice in confronting one’s own mortality.
The purpose of habitually confronting our own deaths and the mystery of our death date is not to invoke fear or dread, but quite the opposite! Accepting that that death will come reminds us that life is PRECIOUS.
Because we don’t know how long we have, we want to be AWAKE in the present moment. We want to make the most out of our lives while we have the gift of living them.
You can help your life coaching clients practice memento mori to become more present
As life coaches, we can seek to help our clients learn how to acknowledge their own deaths as a means to living and breathing in the NOW.
We can also assist clients in learning that there is a power within them far greater than any circumstance, situation or condition… including the inescapable reality of death!
By embracing the preciousness of life, they’ll gain the motivation to manifest their greatest dreams.
5 techniques for practicing memento mori
Here are five techniques that you can share with your clients for practicing “memento mori” and thinking about death in such a way that they are able to feel most alive and to be motivated by their dreams, not by their fears.
1. Regard your time as precious
Acknowledging that you don’t know how much time you have left on this earth in physical form immediately makes each passing moment all the more precious and full of potential.
Take actions to really live as if you you value your time: make time on your calendar to to do things you love, and take time for much needed solitude to rejuvenate and contemplate your life.
Your days will always be full of distractions: phone calls, emails, errands and appointments. But if you keep in mind that your time is precious, you will naturally prioritize doing the things you most love in service of your dreams.
None of us want to die with regret, with the feeling that we did not live the lives we wanted! So prioritize and give time to the things that align with who you want to be, to the things that give you life.
2. Live in the moment
“Live in the moment” and “be here now” are popular phrases that are commonly used, but it can sometimes be challenging for clients to really know what this means or how to do it.
As a life coach, you can remind your clients to be present in the moment through paying attention to their breathing. We can only breathe the present moment. We can’t physically breathe in the past or the future, which serves as a great reminder that all we ever have is right now.
When we are fully present, our fears of death subside and we can focus our energy instead on what we would most love to be, do, have and give in this life – and how to achieve this from where we are and with what we have right now.
You can also encourage your clients to think about it this way: pretend today is the end. It’s the very last day of your life. Frankly, it could be! We don’t know.
But if you knew it was your last day, where would you invest your time? Where would you direct your energy? Let that inform where you invest your time and energy today.
3. Avoid self pity
While it is of course natural to feel down sometimes, or to want more from life, engaging in self pity is one of the quickest ways to zap all of your energy and stop you from moving forward.
Self pity and playing the victim are the enemies of living our lives fully. When we acknowledge that life is precious gift and that we don’t know how much time we actually have to live it, we’re much less likely to fill our time with self pity.
If you have clients who seem to be falling into the pattern of self pity, encourage them to take a pause, and then try to tune into any areas of longing and discontent in their lives. Doing so will help them identify areas in their lives that they wish to change, which they always have the ability to do.
Remind your clients that there is a power in within them, and within all of us, that is far greater than any circumstance, situation or condition we will ever find ourselves in! This is a great reminder that we are the architects of own lives, even when while embracing the reality of our death date.
4. Live with gratitude
This one is quite simple, because there is always something to be grateful for.
The amazing thing about gratitude is that it’s bulletproof: acknowledging our own mortality can’t possible diminish the gratitude we feel for our family, friends, our home and so on!
When we regularly feel and express gratitude, even for the little things – say a great cup of coffee or a beautiful orchid – we live expansively. We are honoring the lives we are given!
So encourage your clients to contemplate their own death date as a means of generating more gratitude for what they have and love right now.
5. Don’t allow your imagination to terrorize you
Each and every one of us has six mental faculties – imagination, intuition, will, memory, reason and perception – all of which can be used together to tune into and create the life of our dreams.
Our imagination, when put to good use, can help us create a powerful vision for the life we truly wish to live… but many of us also use our imaginations to terrorize ourselves.
When it comes to the unknown, to things we’re afraid of, and especially to death, it is easy to create terrifying pictures in our minds of what might come to be.
It is easy to imagine “worst case scenarios.” But doing so means operating from a contractive mindset – one that immediately diminishes the quality of the days we have to live.
If you have clients who are using their imaginations to terrorize themselves, encourage them to replace their negative visions with positive ones – visions of the lives they most want for themselves. Visions of themselves full of health, vitality and vibrance.
We can even visualize our own death in a way that is reverent instead of morbid – for example, without pain or surrounded by loved ones – in order to diminish our fears surrounding death and amplify our joy in living life.
Practicing memento mori can help you and your clients live life to the fullest!
Regularly practicing memento mori – that our lives as we know them as physical beings will eventually come to a close – is a means to living life with greater intention, purpose and love.
Steve Jobs famously said,
“Death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life’s change agent.”
When we acknowledge that our physical lives our finite, we are better able to see them as precious, to be present in them, and to shape them according to our greatest dreams.
That our death date remains a mystery is a greatest motivating factor to live life fully and expansively. Because we don’t know how much time we have, it is our job to make the most of it while we have it!
To recap 5 ways you can think differently about death to truly live:
- Regard your time as precious
- Live in the moment
- Avoid self pity
- Live with gratitude
- Don’t allow your imagination to terrorize you
So remind your clients (and yourself!) that your life is yours to create and change while you as a spiritual being are here inhabiting a physical body – and that the power breathing you is bigger than any circumstance, situation or condition. Even your death date!
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