We're all going to die. That's not breaking news.
Usually, our own mortality is not something we enjoy thinking about. But, contemplating the inevitable reality of death can actually produce a wide range of postive impacts, making us better versions or ourselves - from choosing healthier lifestyles to increased empathy.
On the surface, it seems like thinking about death would be depressing. In the field of research known as Terror Management Theory (TMT), which focuses on how the conscious brain struggles to avoid or ignore thoughts of death, most psychologists studied the negative impacts of thinking about death. A paper published this month changes that by contending that thoughts of death can make for a better life.
Kenneth Vail, of the University of Missouri, told the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) that previous to his new paper, "There has been very little integrative understanding of how subtle, day-to-day, death awareness might be capable of motivating attitudes and behaviors that can minimize harm to oneself and others, and can promote well-being."