Obituaries: The Most Important Part of A Newspaper

I quit reading the newspapers a couple of year ago. I quit because I realized that a majority of the information was negative which caused me to worry needlessly about events that would never affect me. 

I used to read the news right before I went to sleep and first thing in the morning when I woke up.

It was the perfect way to ruin my sleep or to start my day off on the wrong foot.  For years, I thought that reading the news was important because I needed to be informed.  If I wasn’t informed then I wasn’t relevant.  I probably learnt that directly from the news media.  I was wrong.  They were wrong…Dead wrong.

In fact, if news is important enough I realized that someone I know will end up telling me about it.  I find it a great conversation starter, asking people what is new in the world today.  Almost without fail, we jump into a topic that they are surprised I know nothing about.  When I know nothing about the topic I can’t jump in with my opinions so it is the perfect way to practice my listening skills because like many people…I like to talk!

However, there is one piece of the newspaper that I do read…Obituaries.  I used to think that reading obituaries was morbid.  Almost like, if I avoided reading about death somehow I could avoid dying.  But we all know death is a destination we all end up reaching, the only question is when.  No one can predict how much longer we have to live. 

Here are the current average lifespans in the US and Canada:

·         Canadian Males – 80 years old

·         Canadian Females – 84 years old

·         US Males – 76 years old

·         US Females – 81 years old

Looking at the numbers, I come to realize that I am getting close to half-time.  To me this could either be viewed as a sobering thought or a very positive one.  I choose to see this as a huge blessing.  I still have more than half of my life to live and to accomplish everything I want to accomplish before I lay down to rest forever. 

So why do I read obituaries?

1)      I am able to find key insights about how a life should be lived

There are common themes that I see when I read obituaries.  Using these themes, I am able to apply the information into my own life. 

Here are some of the common themes I have picked out:

Family –How they will truly miss the deceased and love them forever.  This love is unconditional regardless of the mistakes the deceased has made during their lives…

Mastery / Skillsets / Passions – How each of the deceased had some sort of special talent or gift or passion that others envied.  Many of them spent years perfecting their craft.

Impactful Accomplishments – These are rarely individual accomplishments but rather they are accomplishments that had a huge positive impact to those around them

Legacy – How they will be remembered? How did they leave the world a better place than when they entered it?

2)      I get insight into how a deceased person’s friends and family remembers them

Most of the time the obituary is written by a family member or friend.  This gives me amazing insight into the things I can all do while I am alive to build the legacy I wish to leave behind. It’s amazing how small and simple some of these memories are.  It makes me really think about all the little things we do each day and how each little thing we do can have a huge impact on how other remember us.

3)      I get to see what isn’t important in a life

Sometimes it is what we don’t see in obituaries that are actually important.  Many times things that seem important today, actually amount to very little in the end. 

Here are somethings I don’t see in obituaries:

  • The amount of money someone took to the grave
  • Getting the last word on a petty feud that existed during their lives
  • The mistakes and failures that the deceased made (At the time mistakes and failures seem big to us, but at the end it won’t be remember)


If you read my “Start With The End In Mind” blog you will have seen how much I value writing out one’s own obituary in order to help build your legacy today.  It’s an exercise that I do yearly and it never fails to bring a tear to my eye.  I thought I would share with you my most recent obituary, in hopes of inspiring you to write you own.


JAMES PHU - Obituary

 “James first and foremost was a wonderful husband to his beautiful wife and an amazing father to his two children.

James dedicated his life to inspiring an unknown amount of people to take action in bettering their own lives. His passion for sharing valuable life insights through his blog, coaching sessions and speeches was unmatched.

The number of lives James touched will never be known, and in fact is not important, because James understood the value that a simple smile or a random act of kindness could have on one person.

James’ bright spirit had an enormous impact on everyone he met. We are better people having known James and we will continue to become better people in his memory

James wants to be remembered for being an ordinary man who made many mistakes in his life but always tried to live his life in a way that would make himself and his family proud. 

James will be missed but through his writing and message, he will always be remembered.”


Special Note: I put all of my blogs into a downloadable pdf book and added a couple of extra unpublished blogs that I will release only to my newsletter subscribers.  

The two extra blogs talk about the process I go through to build strong lasting routines and my final "secret" ingredient to my morning routine which energizes me and gets me ready to rock the day.  

My newsletter subscribers will also get access to my Top 5 most recommended books to induce massive self-improvement.  Click this link to subscribe.