#1072 Memento Privilege

The Science of Memento Mori

Let’s continue our exploration of the science of gratitude for another moment (or three).

In his great book Gratitude Works!, Robert Emmons walks us through a number of practices we can use to cultivate our gratitude.

As discussed, the #1 practice he recommends is gratitude journaling.

Then there’s the “What Went Well and Why?” exercise we talk about in Flourish. (Just realized we don’t have a +1 on that yet… Coming soon!)

Gratitude letters are also HUGE. (Will need to do a +1 on that as well.)


Get this: Science has basically proven that our “Memento Mori” practice help us cultivate deeper levels of gratitude.

When I read this passage I KNEW I needed to pull it out for the Note and a +1. 🤓

Robert tells us: “A further illustration of the ‘bad to good’ phenomenon comes from research on confronting one’s own mortality. This recent study found that thinking about one’s own death could make a person more grateful for the life that he or she has. Researchers asked participants to imagine a ‘death’ scenario (do not try this idea at a dinner party) where, trapped in a high rise, they are overcome by smoke and perish in a fire. They were then asked to respond to a series of questions convening their present levels of gratitude. The death reflection condition produced a greater increase in gratitude in comparison to two control conditions. Confronting the possibility of dying may lead a person to realize the accuracy of the British writer G.K. Chesterton’s insight that ‘life is not only a pleasure but a kind of eccentric privilege.’

Shall we practice together now?

If you feel so inspired (and are willing to do the unpleasant but powerful rehearsal of our death the Stoics advised us to practice)…

Imagine this…

You’re in a high rise. It’s on fire. You’re trapped. 😕

You are overcome by smoke. And… You die. 😕 😕

Sorry. You’re gone. 😕 😕 😕


You’re back.

Feel just a tad more grateful to be alive? 😲

Remember that whole “existence” thing Emmons tells us that the most grateful see as a gift?


Let’s quit being entitled, ungrateful (and unhappy!) humans.



As G.K. Chesterton put it, “life is not only a pleasure but a kind of eccentric privilege.

Let’s appreciate it.


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