A few weeks ago while listening to a podcast at work I was confronted with a scary and perplexing idea: my death! Now for those of you who are turned off by the thought of your own death, I encourage you to read this post to the end. Hopefully, after reading this article you will see that death can actually be a powerful tool to help you live a better life!
If you’ve ever listened to the 10% Happier Podcast with Dan Harris, you know that this show can really make you think. In most instances, the topics help listeners see meditation from a more relatable perspective but this episode was different.
During this particular episode, Dan interviews Hansa Bergwall, founder of an app called WeCroak. The sole purpose of this app is to remind you five times a day that you will die...
I’ll say that again… This app was created to do one thing: remind us that we will die
5. TIMES. A DAY!!!!
At first I thought this guy was nuts, but the more I listened the more I started to see the validity in Mr. Bergwall's message. The inspiration for this app was “Based on a Bhutanese folk saying that to be a happy person one must contemplate death five times daily."
At this point, I couldn’t help but wonder why I should trust an old maxim from a culture I’d never heard of before, but nonetheless, my interest was piqued so I of course downloaded the app...
Next thing I knew my Apple Watch vibrated with a reminder and a simple message: "Don’t forget, you're going to die." That’s it. That one sentence alone was enough to get me to think about what it would be like to die. Or as Mr. Allan Watts put it, "What would it be like to fall asleep and never wake up?"
It’s been about 3 weeks since I got that first nudge to remember my mortality, and since then I’ve learned a few things: First and foremost, death is not that scary when you think about it regularly.
Why you may ask?
I'm not quite sure, but I would imagine it has something to do with desensitization or creating space between the idea of death and our self-centered ego. Either way, I can tell you that since downloading this app and incorporating a death contemplation in my meditations, I don’t fear my own death nearly as much as I used to. Everyone is going to die one day so accepting my own mortality has made death an easier pill to swallow.
The other thing I noticed was that contemplating my death has made me paradoxically less anxious. Every time my phone or watch reminds me that I'm going to die, I immediately take stock of my mind and through this new filter of mortality, I am able to discard thoughts that are trivial and inconsequential. In other words, I stop sweating the small stuff so much because any other use of time during this life would be a complete waste.
There’s definitely nothing like realizing just how short life is. It causes us to light the fire under our asses and to get focused on what’s important. That's at least what’s happened in the last few weeks to me. Being mindful of my impending death on a daily basis has helped me cut out the bullshit and focus on the good shit. And who doesn’t want good shit in their life?
Our death reminds us that we all must live while we can. When we think about death regularly, all of those little problems seem insignificant compared to your own existence. With death contemplation, we are freed from a true death sentence: the idea that I can postpone living until tomorrow because I have time.
The truth is, none of us know when it will all end so we must live while we have the chance!
I think perhaps what’s surprised me most about this idea of contemplating ones death five times a day is just how courageous it’s made me. I’ve taken more risks in my personal and professional careers than I ever have in my entire life in the last three weeks (just ask my wife!)
Why? Because I’m going to die, that’s why!!!
There’s nothing to fear when you come to terms with this fact and this understanding inevitably increases your tolerance for risks!
Of course, without taking risks in life we die with regret and trepidation but, imagine if you lived every day knowing your life could be over in an instant. Do you think you would fear making that important career change or lifestyle change that you’ve always wanted? Probably not...
So I encourage you all to go out and LIVE life. Don't just be a bystander! No one gets out alive anyway ;)
Thank you as always for reading our blog! I challenge you to incorporate the idea of death into your life and see how it only amplifies your existence.
Until next week,
Many Many Blessings