Two weeks ago I shared a Reflections post about life goals that may have come off as a bit morbid, since it examined life relative to death. This is something the Stoics, in all their philosophical wisdom, did regularly.
In our Holstee Welcome Guide (which every new member receives) we take this concept one step further. We ask members to draft their own eulogy as a way to better understand the values they hold to be important — an exercise inspired by David Brooks’ TED Talk, Should you live for your résumé ... or your eulogy? While grim, it's a fascinating perspective from which to look at our lives and consider the intentions behind our actions.
Recently, while flipping through my journal, I came across my own answer to this question. Here is how I would hope to be remembered:
Dave was full of love. He wanted the best for everyone he cared for.
Everything he did, he did with intention. Pursuing everything to his standards of perfection. He questioned everything until he found an answer that satisfied his curiosity. Because ‘that is how it is’ was never good enough for Dave.
Dave lived by his own definition of success, and he dedicated much of his life to helping people understand what their own version of a meaningful life looked like.
Dave also loved to make people laugh. He loved to be silly. He had an identifiable giggle. When he was in a good mood, nearly everything made him laugh.
But Dave wasn’t all happy all the time. At times, he got rather bummed. At times, the weight of the world fell on his shoulders. The greed, the hate, the violence, the unnecessary harm to the planet — it didn’t make any sense to him.
He found pleasure in the simplest things in life. He would want me to say that he loved stretching, and thinks everyone should stretch every day first thing in the morning to wake up the body.
He loved purple cabbage. He loved yogurt. He thinks you should eat more of both. On and off since he was 19 years old, he did 50 pushups a day. He was once told that if he started a healthy habit like that in his teens, it would be easy to continue into old age.
Dave loved a good meal. His face and body were so expressive. When he ate something he loved, there was no question. He would always smell what he ate before he took a bite. The first bite was an investigation. If liked it, the second bite would come quickly after with eyes closed, a head nod, and — if it was really exceptional — a small seated dance of joy.
Dave experienced a lot of amazing things in life, but if you asked him what the single best thing that happened in his life was, he would say marrying Jess. He loved her so much. Every day, he felt so lucky to spend so much time with someone he loved, respected, and was so utterly attracted to.
Dave would also not want you to mourn his death with tears but celebrate what a great life he had. If you are feeling depressy — Dave would want you to do something awesome. Life is too short for being depressy for too long. Go do something productive and remember Dave in that way. Plant a garden, do some pushups, treat someone to a great lunch, cook a dinner, make every day special.
Dave wouldn't want you to wait till you’re dead to start living.
Writing out my eulogy was a challenging and emotional exercise, but it also brought me a lot of clarity.
If you haven’t yet, I really recommend you give it a shot. And if you are looking for more guidance, our Welcome Guide is a good place to start.
Feeling happy to be alive,