Do you want to know some secrets of life and death?
I’ve been to a couple of funerals over the past year, and it’s an eye opening experience. Death has a way of bringing living into very clear focus.
There is something within us that yearns for significance and meaning. We want to leave our mark on the world. We don’t want to leave this earth without touching the lives of others.
You and I have no idea how much of an impact we may have on countless lives in the course of our lifetime. Like a pebble that lands in a pond, so our lives can leave ripples and waves of influence, both good and bad, during the course of our lives.
|Tranquility by Sean Rogers1 on Flickr Creative Commons|
Here are some specific ideas that can help us live life in such a way that we can leave a positive legacy for those whose lives we touch.
Plan Your Funeral
Steven Covey, in his material on planning your life mission statement, suggests that you plan your funeral. Lest I start to sound too gloomy, just remember that death is a great instrument for putting life in perspective. I came across an interesting resource while writing this article, called My Plan. The
questions in the guide appear to be free.. I would recommend at least copying the questions and writing up some responses to help yourself gain clarity on how you want to be living your life.
Discover and Live Your Life Mission and Purpose
“Make your life a mission — not an intermission”
“Every person above the ordinary has a certain mission that they are called to fulfill.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
All of us, myself included, tend to think too small about ourselves, God, and what is possible for us to do and be in the world. You can have a mission you can be proud of, if you take the time to find and live it.
Steve Pavlina has written a great article, How to Discover Your Life Purpose in About 20 Minutes. You may find it helpful. Be sure to take the time to do the exercise!
Live In Line With Your Core Values
Principles are like a compass. A compass has a true north that is objective and external, that reflects natural laws or principles, as opposed to values which are subjective and internal. Because the compass represents the eternal verities of life, we must develop our value system with deep respect for “true north” principles. Stephen Covey
I think we would all agree that some people live according to values and codes that are not necessarily improving the world around them for the better. Con artists, dictators, and members of the mob should not be what we aspire to. We need to have a moral compass that guides us as we work to leave a legacy.
At the Smart Personal Development blog, Steve Pavlina provides a great list of values. Look through them and think about what your governing values should be as you live your life. If you do this, you will come to the end of your life knowing that you lived in line with your highest principles.
Think About Role Models, Past and Present
In other words, read up on great biographies. Here is a Great Biographies index from Amazon. These are men and women who have gone before us, and who can inspire us in our own lives to bigger and greater things.
Or consider other people living today who you respect and admire. What are their philosophies concerning life? What are their values? In what ways would you like to be like them?
Spend Quantity and Quality Time With Your Loved Ones
This is an key area I have to always be monitoring myself on. It’s so easy, with work projects and other tasks, to get caught up in accomplishing versus being. Life can move at a quick pace, if I am not careful to prioritize.
When I have spent times at wakes and funerals, what I am most impressed by are the pictures of the deceased, pictured in a myriad of relationships. At the end of our lives, most likely it will be the people in our lives, and the qualities of those relationships, that are among the things we count most dear.
So, how is it going for you? Have you been able to clear up old misunderstandings and possibly resentments with old friends? Or, are you willing to let them go? Have you taken a hard look at your own responsibility in relationships that may have gone south? Are you working as hard at your close relationships as you are working on your career goals?
The beauty of today is that I can create my legacy by the way I prioritize and choose to spend my time. I can learn from the past, and live in such as way as to not regret it going forward.
Learn the Paradox of Self-Forgetting
Don’t get me wrong. It’s important to take time for ourselves, to recharge our batteries, to get the right amount of rest, relaxation, nutrition, meditation, and prayer. However, it’s far too easy to live inside a selfish comfort zone, forgetting that there are people all around us who are in need.
One of my favorite prayers comes from St. Francis of Assisi:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Articles Reviewed in Preparing for This Post:
photo credit: Sean Rogers1
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