In terms of anxiety, depression, alcohol, and drug use, China and India rank in the bottom three countries in the world.
Yet Bhutan, a kingdom sitting between these nations; counts happiness among its prime concerns. Higher even than their GDP.
In Bhutan; far from being a taboo subject; death is all around you. It's a part of daily life.
Their belief is:
To my mind, pondering death to achieve happiness makes no sense. If anything, it would do the opposite. Nonetheless, for a few weeks I tried thinking about death. What their world would be like without me. How I'd prefer to be remembered.
I did this for a minute or so, whenever I remembered to, While washing up, driving, or walking the dog.
It surprised me to find it wasn't distressing. But it wasn't an easy thing to make a habit of, and I kept forgetting.
Then, at the cinema, I decided to give meditating death my full attention (Maleficent 2. Not a fan). For myself, this prolonged effort did the trick.
Since then, I've kept the habit up. Not always five times a day, but more often than not.
I don't think it made me happier. At least, not directly. But, it has had a profound effect on my life. By encouraging me to make myself happier:
Be More Content.
That's OK, because these are just things I don't have. By thinking about what I'd lose, I've become more focused on those things I do have.
Be More Honest.
Get Things Done.
Wills, letters for those you'll leave behind. Such things are important. They shouldn't be left until the end of your life. I can't believe how comforting it is, to have now started putting these in place.
A Sharper Perspective.
It's made me determined that my deathbed is not a place for regret. It will be used only to catch my breath, and for a moments reflection on a fulfilled life.
We know eating five fruit and veg a day promotes good physical health. Could contemplating death become a similar healthy practice?
A five-a-day for the soul.
You can even download an app to do the reminding for you:
Some scary thoughts in exchange for happiness.
Tell me ...
Join me on a journey to learn more about the end of life, death, and funerals; all from a positive perspective. Every two weeks, a new post will explore this important life-stage; asking what we can learn from those going before us, and how we can apply that knowledge to better our lives.