On March 28th, one day after turning the magnificent age of 39, I started getting notifications on my phone that I was going to die. My partner Kate had given me this article about an app called WeCroak. After I installed the app on my phone, I started getting five reminders every day with the same message: “Don’t forget, you’re going to die.”
WeCroak is modeled after the Bhutanese saying that, if you want to be happy, you should contemplate death five times per day. People who have had a near-death experience or who have successfully fought off a terrible disease often comment that the experience had a silver lining: it forced them to reevaluate how they lived.
When you swipe a message in WeCroak, you are greeted with a new quote, sometimes about death but more often about life. Here are five benefits that I’ve noticed since I installed WeCroak:
- Interrupting patterns: I strategically placed the WeCroak app in the middle of my Facebook, Instagram, and other social media apps. Seeing the WeCroak app when I go to open a social media app forces me to reflect on whether I really want to be on my phone. This little pattern-interrupt has saved me countless hours of mindless scrolling through the feeds, grams, and fams of the socials.
- Prioritizing connections: By encouraging me to put down my phone, the app has helped me to prioritize human interactions. And not just with my friends and family – with the cashiers at the grocery store, the servers at the corner diner, and the Lyft drivers taking me to the airport. If the grim reaper arrived suddenly, I would want to be building a connection with someone rather than scrolling through an endless feed.
- Being grateful: With regular reminders of death, I find myself being more consistently grateful. Thinking about death forces me to reflect on what I am grateful for and how can I be grateful in the moment.
- Not sweating the small stuff: When some of my friends became parents, they realized that trivial shit in life doesn’t matter. All of the small stuff doesn’t bother you when you’re focusing your energy on raising a child. WeCroak is a daily dose of the book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and it’s all small stuff: Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things From Taking Over Your Life
- Focusing on the big stuff: In his famous commencement speech, Steve Jobs said: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” WeCroak helps me to focus on the big stuff in life: what am I going to do, who am I going to do it with, how can I best serve the world, how can I be a better person to those around me. Being reminded that my time on this planet is limited, I find myself asking these questions more often, and not waiting for years to pass by before finding an answer.
Does every WeCroak reminder give me all of these benefits? Hell no. But WeCroak can help us to be smarter than our smartphones, by substituting apps that want us to scroll endlessly for apps that remind us how valuable – and limited – our time is. Don’t forget, you’re going to die!