What Does Awareness of Mortality Influence? Forward Thinking Reflections for 2021

Todd Kashdan
2 min readJan 1, 2021


Photograph by Artem Beliakin

For all my friends who survived the cluster fuck of 2020, I hope this is a better year.

For our family, we lost two of the great ones. Irreplaceable. Vortices never to be filled. Phone calls never to be returned. Cravings for contact that produce often unbearable unscratched itches.

Awareness of mortality induces a desire to make life changes with great intention.

Less busy work, more meaningful work.

Instead of production, accomplishment, or recognition, high potential impact is the compass for work-related decisions.

Resisting the pull of online activity with random characters whose opinion doesn’t really matter (and never did), whose presence or absence is irrelevant to quality of life. Investing freed mental resources in the real-world, where the dividends are far greater.

Building select relationships that provide a consistent source of connection, love, strength, and empowerment, and where you feel both a desire and duty to offer the same. Creating space for energizing old friendships, irreplaceable friendships — the ones where your life history is known, your character is understood, and phoniness and insincerity is reduced to near-zero.

Care for that body, make it a routine. Give your future self a gift where you can walk, run, jump, and lift whatever is desired in the next few years and decades. Start now.

Care for that mind, ensuring that it grows. Feed on whatever you are curious about, whatever you are enthralled by, whatever offers a sense of flow, as if your actions are privy to nobody else. Stack white space into the schedule for integrating and synthesizing whatever grabs your fancy. What you attend to, is what you become.

Care for others, not for moral grandstanding, not to signal virtues, not for the crowd, but because it would hurt too much to let those in the sphere of concern to fend for themselves.

Cater to your passionate interests and psychological needs, with everything personalized unlike anyone else that breathes.

Here’s hoping this year brings the above and when it does, I look forward to hearing about it

Warm regards


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For my most recent thoughts on parenting, enjoy this podcast episode on Citrus Love: https://www.citruslove.com/episode52-the-benefits-of-having-negative-emotions/

For my most recent thoughts on men and masculinity, enjoy this panel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L54LEhrJO3Q&t=2261s

For my unique 13 book recommendations for upcoming winter months, read on: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/curious/202012/13-books-captivate-you-during-winter-quarantine

Dr. Todd B. Kashdan is a public speaker, psychologist, professor of psychology at George Mason University. His latest book is The upside of your dark side: Why being your whole self — not just your “good” self — drives success and fulfillment. For free access to The Well-Being Laboratory publications and resources, visit: toddkashdan.com



Todd Kashdan

Professor, psychologist, well-being researcher. For my latest writings read my Provoked column at: toddkashdan.com and my new book THE ART OF INSUBORDINATION