“Don’t forget. You’re going to die.” Practice For Living Well

The notification pops up on my phone five times a day. In the middle of checking my email, the WeCroak app reminds me of my own impending fate—five times a day via push notifications.

The app was designed based on the Bhutanese principle that thinking about death five times a day is the key to a happier life. And while it may sound really morbid, there’s actually some truth to it. “One of the things that makes us unhappy is that we tend to get caught up in things that don’t matter. We tend to get caught up in an angry voice or in minutia or in stress or in things that ultimately aren’t that important to us.

“It’s a little way of making a microadjustment so that your whole day— which, remember, is one of your limited days on Earth—isn’t taken up with BS.” Meditating on death for the purpose of “bringing joy to life” is also a common practice in the Buddhist faith, which served as the inspiration behind the app.

On face value, talking about death is regarded as gauche and a great way to make other people feel uncomfortable. But, inviting death positivity into your life can also have powerful transformational positive effects.

“On the one hand, it can make you aware of how precious life is, because if you realize that life is temporary and that we’re only here for a relatively short period of time, as a result, life takes on a new value,” says psychologist and spirituality expert Steven Taylor, PhD, author of Out of the Darkness: From Turmoil to Transformation. “And the people in our lives take on a new value because we realize that their lives are temporary, and they’re only going to be here for a short time as well. Essentially everything becomes more valuable, you stop taking life for granted.”

All of this comes back to the idea that wellness—and living a well life— should be inclusive of a person’s entire life. Including the end.

Death is part of life, and to celebrate and engage with the healing of death is also by nature to engage with life—and celebrating every day that we’ve got.

Everything around dying is getting radically rethought—from making the experience more humane to mourning and funerals getting reimagined. And many are starting to agree; increasing numbers of people seeking out “good deaths” as they look toward end-of-life care.

Until the 20th century, death occurred in homes, but in recent history it has become more medicalized and less personal. According to a recent report 75 percent of Americans want to die at home, but only 25 percent actually do.

New York-based funeral director Amy Cunningham, who specializes in green burials, home funerals, and celebrations of life. She says many are turning away from the vibe dark, depressing funeral homes with drawn blinds.

Steve Jobs perhaps put it best during his 2005 commencement speech “Almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure— these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

By: Brittany Samuels, SLN Reporter

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