Using death to make life decisions

Nov. 22, 2018, 8:05 p.m.

Surely life and death are completely opposite things? Actually, they’re so closely intertwined that one cannot exist without the other! In this blog we talk about using the concept of death to make life decisions and as a motivational tool.

A third of us think about our own death on a weekly basis. Stuff that makes us think of our own mortality include seeing news reports about death, the death of a family member, reaching a milestone age, a medical diagnosis, creating our own wills and terrorism.

If many of us are experiencing these thoughts, instead of feeling anxious about our own deaths, why not turn it into something motivational so we can get the most out of our lives? After all, Steve Jobs, the late co-founder of Apple, famously used death as a tool to empower his own life:

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it [...] Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.” 

Using death to beat your fears

How many times have you avoided doing something because you were too afraid? Don’t worry, fear can stop the best of us from doing lots of amazing things and sometimes it wise to let fear have the driving seat, but not ALL of the time! In fact, many of us spend large parts of our lives worrying about things that just aren’t worth worrying about.

Mary Schmich, an American journalist, wrote the world-famous article called Wear Sunscreen. This was turned into a number one hit by Baz Luhrmann in 1999. It’s full of incredible life advice such as:

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”


“The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.”

This reminds us that the ‘bad’ things in life are nearly always unexpected...even if we spend all the time running up to that moment worrying about the bad thing.

So where am I leading you with all of this? You see there’s a test you can do every time you’re too scared to do something you actually really want to do...

Picture yourself as an old person lying on your deathbed. Would you regret not doing certain things with your life? Ask yourself “If I was lying on my deathbed, would I have worried about what I’m worrying about now?” The answer is most probably no!

The trick is not to deny that your death exists, but to embrace is head-on and put yourself in a ‘dying’ scenario. It really does put things into perspective!

Using death to live your life

Write your eulogy to figure out what you want in life

If there’s ever a way to sort out your priorities and figure out what you want from life, then writing your own eulogy is it.

Writing, and reading, your own eulogy can give you that natural push into making decisions, creating new habits and moving your forward in life. This is because, again, you’re essentially confronting death and using it to your advantage.

Dedicate a chunk of time to writing your eulogy and really try to visualise your funeral / memorial service. This is easier than it sounds and it’s more cathartic than depressing! Imagine who will be at your funeral and what they would probably say about you.

You’ll start to notice a gap between now and the end of your life. We don’t know when the ‘end’ of our lives are, but this gap still needs to be filled - whether it’s a day or 50 years. We’re not saying you should plan your life - it’s more about working out what you want to do with the rest of your life.

This is the time to turn those “I wish” statements into actions.

Now that you’ve written your eulogy - why not create a bucket list to complement your new direction in life?

Create your bucket list

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