"Stranger, this silent stone asks you to stop, while it reveals to you what he, whose shade it covers, entrusted it to show. Here are laid the bones of Aulus Granius the auctioneer, an honorable man of high trustworthiness. No more. This he wanted you to know. Farewell."
- Latin Inscriptions. Epitaphs.
Over two thousand years ago, relatives of Claudia wrote these epitaphs for her. It shows affection and respect; sadness and hope. But, more importantly, it tells us what was important for common Ancient Romans.
Currently. we have more trouble thinking about death. We’re taught we ought to live in the present moment, letting go of the past and not worrying about the future.
We’re too busy dealing with everyday stuffs -- paying bills, running errands, fixing little problems here and there. And while these activities can be important, those little occupations make us forget about the big picture.
But sometimes you can benefit from looking at your lives from a different perspective -- the perspective of death.
You might think it’s counterproductive to reflect about your own mortality, and feelings of anguish or sadness will make the experience negative. It doesn’t have to be that way.
A University of New South Wales study in terror management (the clash between our awareness of death and our instinct of self-preservation) determined that an awareness of death increases the subjective value of the future for participants.
Another study by the University of Missouri shows that, while reminders of death may have negative as well as positive effects, they influence people to make positive changes in their everyday lives. For example, some participants intended to exercise more or quit smoking.
This is where writing your own eulogy comes into play. By looking at your life as something fragile and limited, you can get the focus back on what matters most to you and then find ways to create more meaning in your life.
Find a quiet time and place, get pen and paper, and get ready for a moment of reflection.
Find The Path
If you were lost in the forest, the trees and uneven ground would make it hard for you to find your way. To get back on your path, you could find high ground to help you see beyond the trees.
Everyday tasks and responsibilities make you lose sight of the big picture.
When you start writing your eulogy, ask yourself:
- Where would I want to be by the time I die?
- What would I like to accomplish?
- In what areas would I like to grow?
Consider Your Life As A Legacy
Stop thinking about success and failure for a moment. Focus on what you’d like to leave behind.
The thing about legacy is that it’s something you don’t do for yourself. It’s something you leave behind for others to benefit and learn from it.
But don’t worry. Your legacy doesn’t have to be a big scientific breakthrough or an amazing novel. Your legacy can be the education you leave your children, or a cause/charity you support, or the help and inspiration you give to others in all areas of your life.
Now that you’ve focused back on what and who matter to you, think of how close you are to achieving the life you wrote about in your eulogy. But most importantly, determine what you need to do or change to get there.
Life is full of distractions. And because our legacy is perhaps the longest-term goal we have, it’s easy to let things slip once in a while.
In this holiday season, it might look a bit strange to write your own eulogy instead of making New Year’s Resolutions. But this will help you remember what matters most to you, and keep you motivated to work for it every day.
Money will always replenish. Your time will not. –