In an inspiring TED Talk, entrepreneur and head of social media intelligence company Unmetric Lux Narayan explains how reading an obituary from the New York Times every morning brought him a deeper understanding of what makes a life memorable.

The practice may seem morbid but Narayan says it’s also surprisingly inspirational — an exercise in looking back at lives well lived and reflecting on human achievement. Narayan was so moved once he started these daily readings that he and his team began analyzing 2,000 obituaries, asking “What did these deaths — rather lives — teach us?”

They found that most people — whether household names like Prince or someone you’ve never heard of — were remembered for helping society; for making “a positive dent in the fabric of life,” Narayan says, not for their individual achievements. Maybe if we all tried to live with our eventual obituaries in mind, “the world would be a much better place,” Narayan says.

Watch the entire talk below.

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