My husband died. Suddenly. As I wrote his obituary, I was flooded with memories of the incredible journey that we shared. But I was even more affected by the messages and condolence calls that I received from people who expressed their gratitude for the help that my husband provided for them. His service to others was more widespread than I had realized. It occurred to me that not only had he fulfilled his bucket list, but that he had experienced a life well lived. The whole exercise of reviewing his life led me to the concept of my own life inventory, and then, the thought that a periodic life inventory of ourselves might be a really good idea. As I considered this, I pondered what exactly makes a life well lived. I was just wondering………………………………
If you were writing your own obituary, what would you want to say? After notating a person’s birthdate, most obituaries discuss the individual’s achievements. Have you obtained the education you want? Don’t make excuses. There are so many ways to manage the cost of college today. I did it as a single parent with a full time job. If I could do it, so can you. Do you have satisfying work? Are you in the field of work that you always hoped for, or do you need to re-evaluate to get where you want to be? If it seems impossible, re-evaluate now, create a plan, and start working toward your goal. Don’t let life actually pass you by before you have achieved your dreams.
What would you say about your relationships? Do you have good friends and supports? If not, start engaging in activities in order to correct this. Are you satisfied with your family? If family relationships pose problems, then see a therapist, read some helpful books, try to understand from a different point of view, or practice tolerance. If the problem is in a marital or couple relationship, then please remember that the grass is not usually greener, and understand that it takes loyalty and commitment to make a long- term relationship work. If you want a long -term relationship, you will have to face this fact. Take off the rose-colored glasses, support one another, and scrub in! You are a team and if you remember that you are on the same side, you can make it work! If you know you are not in the relationship that is right for you, then stop wasting your time. If you don’t know, then see a therapist. Get your life right!
What about your health, physical, emotional, and daily activities? Are you engaging in activities that are enhancing to your life? Are you making sure to get some kind of exercise? Do you take care to eat well? Do you have a routine that ensures that your body is being nourished, both physically and emotionally? Have you incorporated mental stimulation as part of your self-care? If you are thinking, “I always wanted to ski,” then do it. Whatever is an unrealized dream, make it a reality. Make sure it is on your obituary list, not an incomplete bucket list!
What have you contributed to the common good? What are your talents and how can you make the world a better place? What is special and unique about you that you have to offer to others? If you don’t know, then take some time to think about it. Ask you friends what special qualities they see in you and then apply them to realize your gifts!
What about your Bucket List? If you don’t have one, then create it. Travel. See the world because it will help you to understand it better. Start realizing your dreams before you no longer can. Don’t postpone! Have adventures! Love! Help others! Enjoy yourself!
But finally, it comes down to one very important issue. Most of us go through life on robotic mode. But when you reach the end of the road, you want to be pleased with the journey. In order to be pleased with the journey and to achieve a life well lived, you must make an ongoing effort to improve yourself and to raise your self-awareness. Remember the Jimmy Stewart movie, It’s a Wonderful Life? His guardian angel appeared and showed him the impact he had on his community. We are each leaving a piece of our own personal legacy every day of our lives. This is about your spiritual journey. Whether it is through church, spiritual groups or readings, never stop trying to become better. We have a lot of garbage input in our brains. We need to work on awareness of our automatic behaviors, if they have purpose, and if we want to change our destructive thought patterns and reactions. My husband did this throughout his life. He had his demons, and while he did not overcome all of them, he made a very concerted effort to become a better person. And he did. He made a very positive difference in the lives of many people. I am proud of him. I hope I will feel the same about myself at the end of my journey. How about you? Are you satisfied with your obituary inventory? I was just wondering………………..
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