Writing One’s Own Obituary: Student Reflections on an Assignment in a Positive Psychology Class
Journal of Happiness and Health,
Vol. 2 No. 2 (2022),
10 October 2022
Writing one’s own obituary has been promoted as a means to feel less anxiety regarding death and, as an experiential educational exercise, to clarify one’s values and goals and crystalize one’s professional visions. This study examined students' responses to engaging in an exercise that involved writing one’s own obituary as part of a college course in positive psychology. We conducted a qualitative content analysis of 97 assignments using a grounded theory approach. Students reported that they wanted to be remembered for positive personal characteristics and making a difference in people’s lives. Elements of a satisfying life included achievements both in the personal realm, as well as contributions to others and the world. Importantly, student reflections on the assignment indicated that they acknowledged that it was valuable in serving as a motivator to strive towards an ideal self, although some made comments relating to downplaying the role of achievements. Our findings contribute to prior literature exploring how psychology students interact with and benefit from experiential exercises in the classroom. They also provide much-needed insights into the subjective experiences of individuals engaging in this well-known positive psychology intervention.
- Positive psychology, obituary, happiness, optimism, intervention, qualitative method
How to Cite
Arslan, G., & Wong, P. T. P. (2021). Measuring personal and social responsibility: An existential positive psychology approach. Journal of Happiness and Health, 2(1), 1–11. https://doi.org/10.47602/johah.v2i1.5
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