One of my favorite exercises to have people do is to write their own eulogy. I feel it helps people get clear, often for the first time in their lives, what kind of person they want to be remembered as. It also makes it pretty clear if there are on track to be remembered as that kind of person. Going forward, it gives them a pretty good set of self-enforced guidelines. If you know what kind of person you would like to be remembered as, are the actions you are taking going to lead to that? If not, change them. If so, do them more often. It makes life simple and helps steer the rudder of our ship of life, if you will.
There are many people who have an issue with this exercise, or in some cases flat out refuse to do it. They have a hard time getting past the death part. Les Brown said it best, that you can’t get out of life alive. He also said, “Most people die at 25, but don’t get buried until they are 65.” Death is a natural part of life, but I do not want someone’s fear of it to get in their way of success. It is just this thought that I was pondering, along with what the subject of my fifth book will be, when the answer to both questions came to me!
Let me ask you a question that I really want you to think about. If you were to write your autobiography, that is the story of your life, what would the title be? I have been encouraged to write one myself. The best title I could come up with is The Amazing Life of an Ordinary Man. I will explain that in a future post. What I want to plant in your mind is the seed of what story you will leave behind. Will it be one of someone who inspired others or who was only out for their own gain? Will it be of someone who gave or someone who was always looking to take? A “What is in it for me?” sort of attitude. Let me give a clue to those people. As Denzel Washington once said, “I have never seen a U-Haul behind a hearse.” You can’t take it with you. Think of the title of your story. How will it read? Even if you find yourself down and out at the moment, that can be where your story changes. How many of us like to go to a movie or read a book where the main character rises up from the ashes to achieve a level of greatness? The story wouldn’t be as good without the struggle.
Want to take this exercise a step further to help improve your life even more? Imagine someone else was writing your biography, what would they say? What would they title it? Notice how this will be different with each person you think of. If you want to be the best spouse you can be, imagine your better half is about to begin work writing your life story. You certainly would not want them to say you were an inattentive lover. You wouldn’t want to read that you were emotionally unavailable. You want to read how you made their heart sing. You want to read that you made them feel safe both physically and emotionally. Ok, if that is what you want to read, what actions can you take to make that the story? How about if your children were going to write your biography? What would they say about you? Are there ways you could improve that story? Take those actions now.
Think about your own autobiography. Is it what you want it to be so far? If not, what actions can you take to change that? I would start with this first. Then when you are comfortable that you are on track to live the story you would want to write, think of others. What would your spouse write? Your children? Your friends? What actions could you take to make their story one that would make you proud. This should be a fun and insightful exercise. I would love to hear about your experience.