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5 Ways to Leave a Great Legacy

04/27/2015 09:41 am ET | Updated Jun 27, 2015

The discussion of leaving a legacy has come up in conversation lately among my friends and family. Most of my friends are almost or just past mid-century age, and my sons- and daughters-in-law are almost 40 years old or older. There must something in the water.

I thought about the concept of legacy when my grandchildren were born and that was 10 years ago when I was 61. It seems my friends and family are way ahead of me on the idea of a life well lived and what they will leave future generations. One of my sons said to me the other day: "My work is done on this earth. I have three wonderful children." I tried not to tear up.

The idea of leaving a legacy is the need or the desire to be remembered for what you have contributed to the world. In some cases, that contribution can be so special that the universe is unalterably changed. However, for most mere mortals walking this earth, most will leave a more modest legacy that doesn't necessarily change the world but does leave a lasting footprint that will be remembered by those whose lives you touched.

You hope your life matters in some way. I know I do. I've been teaching since the age of 22 and teaching is my legacy, my contribution that hopefully enlightened the lives of my students whether they became actors, scientists, doctors, mothers or yogis. My teaching is a gift that keeps on giving because it leads me to other learning and knowing experiences that I share with others.

My purpose legacy is my family: two sons and five grandchildren. I hope I am fully present to be the best that I can be as a mother and grandmother. I also hope that I am leaving a legacy as a good daughter and a loyal and loving sister and friend.

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"Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you." -- Shannon L. Alder

Here are five ways to leave a great legacy:

1. Support the People and Causes That are Important to You
My best friend of decades ago once asked me what I thought was the most important attribute of friendship. I replied that support was the major theme of friendship. There isn't any more wonderful feeling in life than making the choice to sustain loyalty to a friend by lovingly supporting everything that is good and right about that person's life. My friend was an advocate of a few major causes in the city we resided in and I supported those causes, too, as she supported mine. Although we parted ways when I moved out of the city, she would always reach out to me and remember my work, my life and my family.

2. Reflect and Decide What is Most Important in Your Life
When you review your life's journey, several ideas may come to mind: Did you grow and perhaps transform your life, make changes when you needed to, find your truth, inspire others, become a leader or influence others? Touching lives and exemplifying a truthful path is paramount to living a joyful and purposeful life. Your legacy will live on.

3. Share Your Blessings With Others
I was walking two dogs the other day -- one dog was totally blind and the other dog stubbornly knew her mind. I stopped suddenly in the middle of my son's beautiful neighborhood to observe with wonder the late afternoon thunderclouds bulging out from the mountains. I thought of all the blessings I have in life and how I try to be mindful of sharing with others the richness of my life. I have been given abundance and such is my fate. And it is my legacy to give back this abundance to others. Everyone has blessings to share, even if it a simple smile of acknowledgement.

4. Be a Mentor to Others
A mentor by definition is a more experienced or more knowledgeable person with an area of expertise. Everyone has some significant truth to impart to others that will guide less experienced people in life. The mentoring/mentee relationship involves personal development and support. This process involves an exchange of knowledge complimented by psychological and/or social support that is crucial to sustaining new mindsets. Sometimes these relationships last a lifetime, even when the mentee has moved on to influence others.

5. Pursue Your Passions Because They Are Infectious
Your passions are your legacy. Passion comes from an outpouring of the interests and ideas that make a difference in your life. Finding and pursing your passion allows you to see your destiny clearly. That's what happened to me with yoga and dancing tango. I can attest to the fact that life won't be any fun if you don't pursue your passions to the fullest. It's contagious. It's religious. It's religious. Don't miss the opportunity to pursue your passions and then continue to look for new adventures.

Leaving a legacy is an important part of your life's work. A legacy develops from a life dedicated to self-reflection and purpose. What will be revealed and what will endure is a truthful and value driven body of living.

Joan Moran is a keynote speaker, commanding the stage with her delightful humor, raw energy, and wealth of life experiences. She is an expert on wellness and is passionate about addressing the problems of mental inertia. A yoga instructor, Moran is the author is "Sixty, Sex, & Tango, Confessions of a Beatnik Boomer." Visit her at www.joanfrancesmoran.com.