ACCORDING TO a Bhutanese folk saying, “To be a happy person, one must contemplate death five times a day.” Taking that idea and running with it, an app called WeCroak sends you random messages throughout the day in the form of quotes from famous people reminding you that death is inevitable and could come at any time. (Gee, thanks.)
Bhutan, the tiny South Asian kingdom tucked in the Eastern Himalayans, is best known for its innovative policy of “Gross National Happiness.” Conventional wisdom says it’s a place where contentment reigns, and was long considered the happiest country on Earth until recently when it fell off the Forbes Top Ten list. (Finland is now Number 1). No doubt the Bhutanese are certainly happier than most Americans, especially people living in certain parts of Chicago, or Philly, or Flint, Michigan. Still, if you ask me, that whole “thinking about death” thing sounds like a major downer. So, how happy are those Bhutanese, really? Here are a few pertinent facts about the place. Draw your own conclusions.
1. The first nation to ban all tobacco use, smoking anywhere in Bhutan is against the law.
2. Homosexuality is illegal. Same-sex sexual acts, even when consensual and done in private, are punishable by a prison sentence of between one month to less than one year.
3. Polygamy, while not common, is legal.
4. According to 2016 data from the World Bank, Bhutan’s citizens have a life expectancy of 70.2 years. (69.9 for males and 70.5 for females)
While I completely applaud the wisdom of facing my own mortality, if I could learn what Jane Fonda (80), Clint Eastwood (88), Mel Brooks (92), Tony Bennett (92), George H. W. Bush (94), Betty White (96), Doris Day (96) Olivia de Havilland (102) and Herman Wouk (103) contemplate five times a day, I’d definitely do that.
Andrea Rouda blogs at The Daily Droid.