Memento Mori – Remember You’re Mortal

I felt a shocking pain through my body last week. I was standing in the kitchen while suddenly my lower right abdominal area felt like someone was hitting me hard.

This lasted 5 minutes which felt like a century. During that time I turned white, started feeling dizzy and was scared as hell.

I lied down in an attempt to let it go. Slowly my body recovered and I was back to normal 20 minutes later.

In moments like this, you realise that you’re mortal. That your body can fail you anytime. That the “20-year investing horizon” is a joke and anything can happen in-between.

No, it wasn’t an appendix, it was a small hernia apparently. But lots of crazy things crossed my mind this moment.

  1. I really don’t want to die.
  2. Will my wife be OK?
  3. Does she know how to access our money/investments etc?

Memento Mori (“remember death”) the Latins say.

It is the medieval Latin Christian theory and practice of reflection on mortality, especially as a means of considering the vanity of earthly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits.

This may sound very pessimistic and I consider myself an optimist. But above all, we have to be realistic. Try to find happiness now not later. Do not wait for the “financial independence day” to start living.

You may go that far and then feel disappointed because it wasn’t what you expected. On a more pessimistic view, you may not even go that far.

I recently stumbled upon a Reddit post where the 20-something year-old guy was asking for advice on how to change his life. The frugality he forced on himself was making him miserable and was wondering whether “14 more years” to the financial independence day was worth the wait.

As you can imagine, the comments (including mine) were full of this: “Lower your savings ratio, start living now, life is not a competition etc.” Which makes an absolute sense. Don’t throw your 20s to start living in your 40s.

Obviously, avoid bad financial mistakes early on and start living now. You may not ever experience the Memento Mori moment I personally felt and I hope you don’t but if you do, it’ll make you appreciate what you have today.

I was telling a friend how I started practising gratitude some days. I just reflect upon what we have: no war, no starvation a safe job, civilised society. This instantly gives me a happiness boost which fades away a few hours later.

And that’s what happiness is anyway I believe. You’re not happy 100% of the time. It’s just lots of small moments that combined make your mood good or bad.

Since after a certain level, money cannot make you happier anymore, it’s worth exploring other ways.

The above post is not to say that we have to look short-term or go 100% long bonds. Western medicine has gone so far that the majority of us will live past 90.

But it’s a reminder to take action. Are you giving your body the best chance to live long AND live well? Some actionable steps I’ve taken:

  • started eating healthier and greener
  • exercise often – cycle to work every day
  • reduced meat intake between Monday-Friday.

The above post is also not to say I have low expectations for myself. Hell, I’m very ambitious and quite an optimist about the future. But Memento Mori.

Everything is going to be great
Everything is going to be great

Everything is going to be great – including this blog which just hit it’s first big milestone 10,000 unique users per month! Thanks so much, guys.

Be humble. Practice gratitude. Be happy.

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4 thoughts on “Memento Mori – Remember You’re Mortal

  1. Nice! Great to see a balanced post that isn’t pushing the latest self help monthly subscription! Balanced post, balanced life… I’ll keep reading if you keep Posting 🙂

  2. Great post Michael. I’ve been quietly reading for some time but this one really struck me.

    I read a lot within the FI community and find a large number of individuals are waiting for that ‘moment’ and their current happiness takes a back seat. There doesn’t seem to be a life of balance (if that’s possible). It’s something I’ve been toying with throughout my life.

    I admire your writing greatly as many seem to have forgotten about the actual reasoning for wanting to be Financially Independent and are too focused on the numbers.

    Cracking post!

    • Thanks for your kind words, Ryan.

      Indeed the key to happiness is finding the right balance before and after financial independence. Even if that means delaying your FI date for a few years or working “one more year” to secure a good night’s sleep in retirement.

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Hi! I’m Michael and I love writing about different ways to earn, save and invest our money. Coffee addict :)

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