The AtlanticThe Atlantic

Think about your death and live better

By Arthur C. Brooks

25 May 2023 · 5 min read

informed Summary

  1. Thinking about death can help us make decisions that enhance our happiness.

On September 18, 2007, Randy Pausch faced a packed hall at Carnegie Mellon University to give his last lecture. The popular computer-scientist professor, beloved by students and colleagues, was not retiring or moving to another university. He had terminal pancreatic cancer, and had been given just months to live.

Pausch not only showed no sign of sadness but was so filled with energy and joy that he could barely contain himself. At one point, he dropped to the floor and performed a set of one-armed push-ups. “If I don’t seem as depressed or morose as I should be,” he said, “sorry to disappoint you!” His lecture was a celebration of life and love, to be shared with friends and co-workers, as well as with his wife and three young children.

Sign in to informed

  • Curated articles from premium publishers, ad-free
  • Concise Daily Briefs with quick-read summaries
  • Read, listen, save for later, or enjoy offline
  • Enjoy personalized content