What is 'Memento Mori'?
Like most of us, I struggle with the narrative that I tell myself. My ego takes over and attempts to make my life mean more than it really is. This blinds me from the reality of life, which is that we are all mortal. We only have so many days to live, and only so many hours to accomplish things in those days.
There is one simple fact in life that we tend to forget: We and everyone around us is going to die. At first, this can be scary as shit to think about, but it's something we should be meditating on every single day.
The Stoics often built reminders and exercises that were referred to as Memento Mori -- The ancient practice of reflection on mortality. This came in many forms. Some generals in the roman empire had aides who were only there to humble them by reminding them that they were only human. There's an ancient Egyptian custom where during times of festivities, a skeleton would be brought out with people cheering "Drink and be merry for when you're dead you will look like this."
I'm not saying that we should begin playing flip cup with a dead corpse, but we should be embracing death. By doing so, we can truly live life to the fullest. When we meditate on death, we become free of the grip that it has on us. If you find this depressing, then you're missing the point. This train of thought can create priority and meaning in your life. A simple reminder of death can actually bring us closer to life we want to live.
For my birthday, I received a coin that I put in my pocket every day. On one side of the coin, it has the first part of Marcus Aurelius quote that says "You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think." This is a personal reminder to continue living a life of virtue, right now. The other side of the coin is a painting from Philippe de Champaigne called Still Life with a Skull. This shows the three essentials of existence -- the tulip(life), the skull(death), and the hourglass(time). By always having it in my pocket, I'm given a few jolts each day that are both invigorating and humbling. It's a reminder to not waste a second. How are you reminding yourself?