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How Mindfulness About Death Ramps Up Positivity

The helpful side-effects of recognizing your days are numbered


One day I won’t wake up. I might be lying in bed or slumped in a chair. I could be under a car, in a ditch, or someplace else.

Anyway, I will be dead.

When I first heard about the idea of bearing my mortality in mind, I thought I’d give it a miss. Who wants to think of their demise all day? Or the fact everyone they love is doomed to die?

There are many reasons the notion seemed nuts. Quite apart from the fact I wanted to focus on positivity why would I bother? Is there something to gain from recognizing my days are numbered?

I didn’t expect to see results, if at all, so quickly. This is why I began my venture and what I’ve gained.

How daydreaming stopped me appreciating life’s wonders

You know what it’s like. You walk down the street and a stunning butterfly flits through your airspace, but you hardly notice it’s there.

You pass a tree ripe with sweet-scented blossom, and the aroma half-enters your nostrils, but you can’t perceive it fully.

The same is true of every experience when you aren’t alert to what’s happening. Gifts are offered to you in the form of nature’s fruits, a stranger’s smile, and numerous other examples of everyday wonders that could, but probably won’t lift your spirit and leave you happy.

I’m a grateful person, or so I thought, who’s relatively self-aware and conscious of the environment. I noticed other people were half-asleep, but not myself. As far as I was concerned, the fact I sometimes stopped to admire the changing color of the leaves in autumn and listened to birdsong meant I was wide-awake.

What about all those times, though, when I was stuck inside my head? My thoughts kept me captive, insisting I worried about future challenges or winced as I recalled things I could have done better.

My mind was crammed with considerations about where I was going and where I had been. Even my conversations were about what had happened already or what I wanted to do next.

But then I kept hearing about the concept of recognizing your immortality as some sort of therapy.

I wasn’t attracted to the idea at all, yet; it chased me like a summer wasp. A book that mentioned it fell from a shelf and a documentary about it stood out when I glanced at YouTube. I heard a guru talking about the subject on the radio, and the examples of it tugging at my mind to get my attention could go on. So, I decided not to fight back.

How I began

I was used to starting mornings by telling myself “today is going to be a great day,” but changed my tune.

Instead, I reminded myself I was alive at present, but one day I wouldn’t wake up. I might be lying in bed, or slumped in a chair. I could be under a car, in a ditch, or someplace else. Anyway, I would be dead.

The point is, I wouldn’t be able to breathe the air and feel it fill my lungs. I wouldn’t see the daylight, or get to enjoy being with the people and animals who mean the most to me. I would never meet anyone new or laugh again…

That was the first morning’s recognition of my eventual demise. Since then, I’ve toned things down. I just get excited to wake up and not be dead.

I recall I will die on and off throughout the day and just before I go to sleep.

“That’s sick” I hear you say, and not in a good way. But actually, my practice has been one of the most positive exercises I’ve ever tried. Here’s why.

The weird connection between gratitude and here and now

Have you ever noticed true appreciation only happens in the moment? The most fulfilling sense of gratitude arises in the here and now.

It involves being thankful the split-second something special happens. Thankfulness can be revisited, but it has to happen in the present first. It’s rarely an afterthought unless you purposely seek silver linings in your history.

The main advantage of being mindful about death is that it magnetizes you slap-bang into the present. Suddenly, every moment counts when you realize you have a continual recognition of your limited time on the planet.

Can you imagine the amazing positive emotions you can raise if you recognize the beauty in each instance? It isn’t possible unless you are consciously aware of yourself and your surroundings. Raising cognizance of my future demise rocketed me into the moment.

How my life changed

I value my time

I stopped allowing people to gossip or go on and on about what they hate about life in my presence. I don’t have time for anything less than meaningful, and when people want to tell me how unsatisfied they are I change the subject or leave.

In the old days, before my new practice, I would have stayed around to be polite. Now I know my time is precious. My life is to be cherished, and I don’t want to give anyone the green light to fill it with rubbish.

I see more wonders than I thought possible

Of course, I always saw life’s blessings. It was something I had been good at, and yet, I had no idea I was only spotting a few.

Due to bearing my mortality in mind, my gratitude ramped-up. I was zapped into the present moment, and life looked like a gift.

I began prioritizing too. Instead of glancing at a beautiful bird in the sky. I stopped walking and gave the event my full attention. Rather than giving a weak smile to a passer-by on the street, I found myself making positive comments or saying something funny to make them chuckle and brighten their day.

Not only do I see more wonders, but I also create them now. I have more time, attention, and positive emotion to give than when I concentrated on securing future events or reminiscing.

The results of my experiment are promising, and I won’t give them up. I will recognize my days are numbered regularly now because I don’t want to miss a thing.




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✨ Bridget Webber

✨ Bridget Webber


Writer, former counselor, author, and avid tea drinker learning how to live well.