Living for a Better Eulogy
There’s a classic exercise in which people are asked to imagine their funerals. Imagine yours. Who would be there? What would be the mood of the room be? Would there be many people in attendance? What would be said in your eulogy? Would you want it to be about your accomplishments, possessions, skill at playing Angry Birds? Or would you want to be remembered for who you were, for how you touched the lives around you, for your part in furthering a mission greater than yourself?
In the short video above, NY Times columnist David Brooks talks about whether we are living a life dedicated to building a better résumé or a better eulogy. Are we interested in the “skills you bring to the marketplace”–the small accomplishments, the things the elevate personal gain? Or are we interested in “who are you, in your depth, what is the nature of your relationships, are you bold, loving, dependable, consistency?”
Brooks confesses that his thought life–like most of us surely–is spent résumé building. Moreover, the world tends to reward our résumé building tendencies, even when a good eulogy is what we want at our core. He claims that “we live in perpetual self-confrontation between the external success and the internal value.”
As they say, we can’t take it with us. The significance of our small accomplishments and cool stuff will fade before the second round of pigs-in-a-blanket are passed at our memorial services. Our character, our love for others, our contribution to something greater than ourselves are the things most likely to endure and certainly be missed.
Take a minute right now to write out your eulogy. Write it from a place of how you want to be remembered–not necessarily how it’d be written based how your current life would conclude. Then take a moment to reflect on whether your life now is building toward that eulogy. If not, what can you do today to start living into that eulogy?