Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What Will Your Legacy Be?

"You are doing this not only for your children and grandchildren," I explain to Arbor Hospice patients and their families as we begin to plan a video of the patients' life stories. "This video," I say, "is for generations not yet born, those who will follow you but will never know you personally."

During the videotapping, patients and their families typically describe the events of their lives - when and where they were born, the births of siblings, memories of grandparents and parents, and so on.

But patients also often tell stories that illuminate their legacies - stories, for instance, about the challenges they faced and the lessons they learned that offer wisdom and guidance to future generations.

What is usually revealed in these stories is that our legacies are shaped through an accumulation of daily actions, particularly those that contribute to the quality of the lives of others.

At any point in our lives we can affect our legacies by:
  • Reflecting on our values and important goals and making adjustments when appropriate
  • Preparing a written "legacy statement" explaining the values and personal qualities we want to demonstrate in our daily lives
  • Determining the extent to which our daily words and actions match those values and goals and making necessary changes.
By reflecting on the nature of the legacy we desire to leave and by taking deliberate steps to cultivate the qualities that will produce that legacy, we are likely to look back at the end of our lives with a sense of satisfaction and completeness.

The accumulated effects of these actions across a lifetime will be the source of the wisdom we share with those we love and those who follow us whom we shall never meet.

This blog entry was written by Dennis Sparks, Arbor Hospice Volunteer. You may contact Dennis by commenting below or emailing him at thinkingpartner@gmail.com.

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