Last year I stumbled on a podcast episode while at work that make me confront a scary and perplexing idea:
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. I promise you that after reading this article you won’t think it’s THAT crazy to think about your own mortality on a regular basis.
If you’re a podcast junkie like me and you are dabbling in meditation, then I highly recommend you check out Dan Harris’ Podcast called “10% Happier.”
Dan is a self-proclaimed skeptic of just about everything which makes his “take” on meditation even more interesting.
Most of the time Dan’s shows are meant to make things like meditation and mindfulness accessible to us cynics and given Dan’s day job as an on-air broadcaster for ABC, he really knows how to ask the tough questions and get at the root of any given topic.
During this particular episode, Dan interviews Hansa Bergwall, founder of an app called WeCroak.
WeCroak is a relatively new app that you can download on your phone with the sole purpose of reminding 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
FIVE. 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 is “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…
Minutes later while in a meeting my Apple Watch started to buzz! As I looked down expecting to see a text message from my wife, I was surprised to find a reminder with a simple message:
“Don’t forget, you’re going to die.”
This simple little sentence was enough to send my mind into a tailspin as I stopped to think about what it would be like to die for the first time in my life. For the rest of the meeting I thought about my existence and I was struck by how much happiness the thought of my own death brought me.
Immediately, things seemed to snap into perspective and the troubles of my day became almost miniscule compared to the miracle of life.
Death is a true companion
It’s been about 10 months 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 perhaps creating space between the idea of death and our self-centered ego.
Either way, I can tell you that since downloading this app and regularly thinking about my own impending death, I have come to realize that death is a natural end to the miraculous and brief existence we all get to experience!
When we face our own death, we immediately become grateful for the life we have because contemplating mortality is a wonderful reminder to live our best lives.
This is one of the true super powers of becoming friendly with our own mortality…
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 because it causes us to light a fire under our asses and get focused on what’s important.
That’s at least what happened to me.
Our death reminds us that we all must live while we can.
When we think about death regularly, all of our little problems seem insignificant compared to our existence.
With death contemplation, we are freed from a true death sentence: the idea that we can postpone living until tomorrow because we have time.
Being mindful of my 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?
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 one’s 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 have in my entire life in the last 10 months.
Why? Because I’m going to die, that’s why!!!
There’s nothing to fear when you come to terms with the fact that you will die and this
understanding inevitably increases your tolerance for risks!
Of course, without taking risks in life we might die with regret 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?
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.