your 5-a-day

it’s never too late to be what you might have been. ~~ george eliot



that message arrived on my phone a few hours ago. it came to me courtesy of an app called ‘WeCroak’. need i tell you that their logo is a frog…a red one with spots.

i have no idea who created this app. it’s based on the awareness of the people of bhutan that happiness comes from contemplating death five times a day.  WeCroak sends a short, sometimes sharp, sometimes gentle, reminder five times a day to my phone.

i pause, breathe and become conscious of my mortality, and all the glorious, delirious mess of life, five times a day…should i choose to open the reminder. most of the time i do. the quotes are drawn from poetry, spiritual teachings, great literature, common expressions, philosophy.

from their tiny website: “you are encouraged to take one moment for contemplation, conscious breathing or meditation when wecroak notifications arrive. we find that a regular practice of contemplating mortality helps spur needed change, accept what we must, let go of things that don’t matter and honor things that do.”

bhutan, a tiny himalayan kingdom, is known for it’s gross national happiness index. the phrase ‘gross national happiness’ was first coined by the 4th king of bhutan, king jigme singye wangchuck, in 1972 when he declared, “gross national happiness is more important than gross domestic product.” The concept implies that sustainable development should take a holistic approach towards notions of progress and give equal importance to non-economic aspects of wellbeing.



in the bbc online travel section an article revealed the writer’s experience with a doctor in bhutan who recommended she practice this contemplation once a day. she became aware that his prescription was ‘contemplation-on-death lite’ when she discovered that the bhutanese use the practice five times each day.

unlikely as it may sound, this practice does not cause depression or morbid thoughts. since bhutan rates the highest in the world on the happiness index, we can trust that the practice contributes to joy and well-being.

this might be an appropriate use of technology for elders to investigate. mortality is closer now than ever, as we witness the sometimes challenging changes to our bodies, to our minds and to our hearts.

life takes on a different hue when i am aware that death is at hand. it becomes brighter, more vibrant, more majestic, more numinous, more possible. each heartbeat sounds itself as precious. each conversation holds meaning. each love, each joy, each sadness, each fright can become the focus of awareness.

what is happening right now?

this moment may be the moment before my death.

(p.s. comments on the gorge elliott quote to come…at some point.)