What is Stoicism’s take on death? How can Stoicism help us come to terms with, and even appreciate our mortality?
In Stoicism, death is viewed as a constant reminder of the fragility and transience of life. In this sense, death is a gift as it helps us to appreciate what’s most important in life.
Read about Stoicism’s take on death and mortality.
What Is Stoicism’s Take on Death?
We often act as though we’re invincible, that we have plenty of time left. We focus on trivial things, such as making more money, getting a promotion, or buying a bigger house. We make plans for the future.
But when we’re mindful of our mortality, we think differently. Awareness that our days are numbered creates a sense of urgency and puts our daily preoccupations into perspective. While this might sound depressing, it’s actually energizing and motivating. Each day becomes a gift.
Instead of denying or being afraid of their mortality, Stoics embrace it.
Confronting Death the Stoic Way: De Montaigne
In 1560 Frenchman Michel de Montaigne was thrown from a horse and nearly killed. This near-death experience changed his life. It eliminated his fear of death, energized him, and created an insatiable curiosity about mortality. It also gave him a sense of purpose: He spent the rest of his life reflecting on, studying, and writing about the day he nearly died.
Similarly, you should spend time meditating on death and being mindful of your mortality—doing so will improve your life.
Being aware of death helps you appreciate what’s most important. With a sense that you’re on a deadline, you do what you need to do. When your time is up, you want to know you did your best.
Meanwhile, if you can derive value from confronting mortality, you can do the same with every other obstacle.
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