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How Do You Want To Be Remembered?

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It's that time of year again! You know, when we not only should be in the "holiday spirit" but also should be preparing for the New Year. There is no question that 2008 has been filled with many challenges and, for many of us, it will be a year that won't be missed. On the other hand, this year has also been one filled with promises of brighter things to come. Are you ready for the New Year, both in terms of what you plan to bring to it and what it has to offer you? In the spirit of the season and with a focus on the future, I would like to challenge you to get ready for the New Year by doing something that you may have never done before. Here goes.

Imagine that you have died and put yourself in the position of having to write your own obituary for the local newspaper. What would you say? In other words, how do you want to be remembered? What are the most important things that you experienced in your life? Alternatively, write your own eulogy, which will be recited at your funeral. Did you live and work in such a way that the last comments about you are really what you want to have said?

Ask yourself: Are you now living and working with meaning? Assuming that someone else does write your obituary (or eulogy), what would be different about it from what you have written in the above exercise? Remember Ebenezer Scrooge's experience in the classic tale, "A Christmas Carol?" What would your encounter with the Ghost of Christmas Future (Yet to Come), in which you get a glimpse of your destiny, be like? How would people remember you, talk about you? Regardless of your religious or faith-based orientation, there is an important life lesson here! As you get ready and plan for the New Year (yes, it's just around the corner!), please reflect upon the things that really matter--the things that, ultimately, will comprise your life's "legacy" outlining how you will be remembered.

It is important to recognize that writing one's obituary or eulogy is not intended to be a game. On the contrary, this kind of "soul searching" or self-reflection is especially important during the holiday season and as we prepare for the "New Year!" One of the meaning-centered principles described in my book, Prisoners of Our Thoughts, is called "Detect the Meaning of Life's Moments," which I have already introduced in a previous post. This principle states that only you (generically-speaking) can answer for your own life by detecting the meaning at any given moment and assuming responsibility for weaving your unique tapestry of existence. On a practical level, I include more information about writing an obituary and eulogy in my book and even include a template for writing a eulogy (all you have to do is fill in the blanks!).

Unfortunately, more often than not, people tend to live their lives on "auto-pilot" or "cruise control" and don't pay attention to the things that really (should) matter to them until they hit a bump in the road or worse, crash. Even though at first it may appear rather morbid, this kind of exercise helps us "wake up" to and become mindful of life before it is "too late"--that is, before we are laid to rest and someone does have to write an actual obituary or say a real eulogy for us! So, please, don't fall asleep at the wheel (metaphorically-speaking) as you drive down life's highway!

Speaking of driving, I found the following saying on a bumper sticker not too long ago: "Be the kind of person that your dog thinks you are!" Even if you are not a dog lover or owner, I hope that the underlying message of this bumper sticker is clear and meaningful, especially as it relates to the subject of this post. Again, it is vitally important to underscore that we can actually enrich our lives by reflecting upon our death. As strange as this may seem (actually, this philosophical principle has deep spiritual roots in antiquity; Socrates, for instance, believed that we should "always be occupied in the practice of dying" in order to appreciate our living), I ask that you take this advice seriously before it does become "too late."

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You can find out more about Dr. Alex Pattakos, author of the international bestselling book, Prisoners of Our Thoughts, in his HuffPost Bio and at http://www.prisonersofourthoughts.com. Contact Alex at: alex@prisonersofourthoughts.com.

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