[PHILOSOPHICALLY SPEAKING] The benefits of thinking about death


Death: few people enjoy talking about it, but everyone knows their fate and that the only separation between life and death is time. Although death is often looked at in a negative light, the awareness that life will end can actually make it more meaningful.

Death is the unknown. No matter how much research is done or how much technology advances, death will remain an unknown constant at the front of most people’s minds. Some believe that there is Heaven and Hell, some believe in reincarnation, and some believe there is simply nothing. While perspectives on death may vary from person to person based on their beliefs, it is undeniable that time in this life is fleeting.

Although coming to terms with the fact that one will die is difficult, it can give a person new meaning.

— Catherine Hooley

Every second that passes is a second closer to the end of life. That is a terrifying concept, but sometimes fear is the motivation someone needs to live. A study by Research Gate found that thinking about death can push people to strengthen relationships, improve their physical health, be more compassionate with others, and reevaluate their personal goals and values.

For example, the phrase YOLO (you only live once) was popularized in 2012 and is often associated with reckless behavior. Although this phrase can have a negative connotation, the actual idea of remembering that one’s lifetime is limited encourages longer-term goals of optimizing one’s life because it is a reminder that life is only lived once.

Thinking about death can also make life more precious. When people realize that they won’t be alive forever, appreciation for mundane things can become a more frequent occurrence and, in turn, improve the quality of life. According to a study by the Mayo Clinic, gratitude can improve sleep, anxiety, mood and can even decrease the risk of health issues.

Death gives humans perspective. Although coming to terms with the fact that one will die is difficult, it can give a person new meaning. The odds that a person will be born is 1 in 400 trillion. Every human to exist is extraordinary just because they beat the odds of never being born.

Perspective, gratitude, motivation, and death are what keeps humans living.