Reaper Repellant Part 2: How to Keep the Grim Reaper at Bay

Welcome to the next installment in a series designed to make yourself substantially less attractive to the Grim Reaper. In case you played hooky from Part One last week, we covered the following ways to live like you mean it:

  1. Get new parents (or, take happiness into your own hands).
  2. Pull the plug on your dead-end job.
  3. Put a fork in Parkinson’s Law.

We’re just getting warmed up, baby!! Here are three more ways to maim the Reaper while we’re still fortunate enough to be above ground:

Reaper Repellant #4:
Stop living on a whim.

Are you a whimmer? The “live by the seat of your pants” type? Cool! Except, NOT COOL IF YOU WANT TO REALLY LIVE BEFORE YOU DIE. (I didn’t know I had such strong feelings about the whim thing until I started typing in all caps. Phew.)

Are you using your calendar as the best-but-boring-tool-ever to live an astonishing life? You know I will come over and punch you in the throat if you over-schedule your life into a monotonous, robotic routine . . . that is exactly what turns the Grim Reaper on, and as you will recall, we are aiming to neuter him. But you must know you can fit more of the “right” things into your life if you plan them and pencil/type them into your calendar.

This is the farthest thing from rocket science and yet I see this with clients [and okay maybe myself] all too often: we have ideas and notions and cool ideas of what we’d like to do with our one wild and precious life, and then we let the month go by. The month becomes a quarter, and then a year, and then our 30s, and then we’re being cremated.


  • Want to see your friends more? Schedule a happy hour in and poof! It’ll happen (instead of talking about it, then doing nothing about it, and then all of a sudden it’s 2063 and your friends are dead).
  • Want to work out more? Block off two or three time chunks a week and you’ll likely go (instead of looking at fit people wrestle with heavy ropes on social media, then doing nothing about it, and then all of a sudden keeling over from an artery-clogged heart attack).
  • Want to get a project off the ground at work? Preserve blocks of time in your workday to design the Master Plan (instead of complaining about never getting to launch your amazing idea, then doing nothing about it, and then dying with an amazing idea trapped inside of you).
  • Want to see the Greek islands? Book a flight and voila, the Santorini sunset can be yours in the flesh (instead of doing nothing and hating all your friends who go on and on about how “the best sunset in the world is in Santorini” and then you die wondering about how good it could have been).
  • Want to dream up and make an astonishing life happen? Block off a few hours here and there to live with vitality and meaning. Vitality and meaning aren’t really looking for you, trying to nose their way into your life. You kind of need to make the space for the things you want to do, and that happens by making sure Thursday nights from 5 – 9 are YOURS, for example.

Reaper Repellant #5:
Embrace the lows of life.

Wait, what? This sounds like the feeding ground of the Grim Reaper: doesn’t he love hardship? Peril? Mangled limbs? Isn’t he the ringmaster of the Shit Show of Life When Things Fall Apart? Yes, but.

It appears that the well-lived life is reached in part because of the contrast that exists between the highs and the lows—the troubles, setbacks, and even traumas that life presents.

If we wallow and drown in the swamp of negativity that life has been known to create, the Reaper wins. If we learn from our down-and-out moments, we have the opportunity to make deep and rich meaning in our lives. Will that meaning be hard-won? Sure. But meaning is often forged through fire.

People with a high degree of meaning in their lives have typically undergone some sort of struggle—a suffering like an illness, bankruptcy, maybe the loss of a loved one—that has rocked their world and caused them to put the pieces back together again, a lá Humpty Dumpty. Meaning appears to be a part of this process. Remember when we spoke about people who had brushes with death, how they emerged with a new lease on life? Even people who have experienced trauma can experience post-traumatic growth, a phenomenon where some people rise to a higher level of functioning as a result of changes that occur in a major life crisis.


  • Think of any struggles you’ve had in your life. When you look past the rubble of the issue or hardship, was meaning created in those ashes?
  • Think of your current setbacks or hardships. Where can you see the opportunity for growth amidst the tough times?
  • Read more here in my Why We Need Life to Suck Sometimes post.

Reaper Repellant #6:
Get your beauty sleep (and don’t forget to floss).

Brain FlozzzWould you just arrange your life to get at least seven hours already? Doctors call sleep mental floss because it clears the debris that clogs up our brains through the day. You can’t conquer the world with debris in your brain, or by being dead.

If you’re not getting enough sleep, you may have trouble making decisions, solving problems, and controlling your emotions—not to mention your behavior. And those are just the brain things—I haven’t even started down the list of health issues, like how less sleep can lead to heart disease and obesity.

Fun but deadly fact: If you sleep less than 5 hours a night, you’re asking for a 65% higher death rate compared to those who regularly sleep 6 – 7 hours per night. 👈That’s like calling the Grim Reaper over for a bootie call while you’re up burning the midnight oil.

If you average more than 8 hours at night, you’re inviting a 25% higher death rate. (You also increase your mortality risk by about a third if you take sleeping pills, so just sleep 6 – 8 hours and call it a night.)

Sleep or die

Speaking of flossing, it will add 6.4 years to your life expectancy. Seriously. If you don’t floss your teeth you’ll spike your risk of death by 25% – 29%.


  • Go.
  • To.
  • Sleep.
  • And floss!
  • (I know you already know this, but in case you need a sleep prescription reminder: less caffeine, less booze, less nicotine, more exercise, more water, more meditation, more Sour Patch Kids.)

Reaper RepellantC’mon back next week for three more ways to give the Grim Reaper the middle finger.
In the meantime, why not make this week memorably full of life?

Jodi Wellman

P.S.: You + me on Instagram = additional Reaper repellant.

P.P.S.: Oh and just in case you missed it… I’d love you forever if you took 16 minutes out of your life to watch my TEDx talk!


Related articles you just might love...

What Needs to Die in Your Life? Part 3 of 350,000
What Needs to Die in Your Life? Part 2 of 350,000
What Needs to Die in Your Life? Part 1 of 350,000