So, the last two weeks went by mourning for those we had lost and reminiscing about them, writing obituaries, talking about our experiences. As everyone shared their own anecdotes, I wondered, how did they want to be remembered?
Some people shared fond personal stories, recalling happy times.
Some people, surprisingly, started off okay but somehow ended up recalling not-so-great experiences.
Naturally, this brought forth a discussion on the family and friends we’ve lost in the recent past and the memories we had of them. Not all were nice. Sure we didn’t want to speak ill of the dead, but what to do when they specialized in making people feel bad?
How sad, right?
Imagine breathing your last and people sitting around talking about you, and some people only remembering unpleasant things from your interaction with them.
That got me thinking – what if we were to start living our lives, making our decisions and forming our attitudes based on how we would impact others around us?
Let’s pause a moment here to think about how we would want people to describe us and our lives when we are no longer around.
How do we want to be remembered?
Would we want to be remembered as . . .
Strong and confident?
Kind and loving?
Funny and great to be with?
Passionate and motivating?
Happy and inspiring?
As that someone who always helped others and left a positive impact on the world?
As someone who left the world a better place than it was, before?
As someone who had high standards and demonstrated excellence by example?
As someone who always had a smile for others?
As someone who was ready to spare a minute no matter how busy?
Would we want to be remembered as that whiny, negative, naysayer?
Someone who constantly complained and dragged others down by always focusing on the unfairness and difficulties in life?
Someone who always insisted they were right and ignored others’ feelings?
Of course, we all aspire to be the first type of person.
We all want to be remembered as:
- Someone who leaves a legacy of positivity, happiness, power and possibility.
- Someone who brought their own sunshine.
- Someone who lived life to the fullest while inspiring those around them to do the same.
And if we want to be remembered with joy, we have the responsibility to live our lives the way we want people to think about us.
Nobody has glowing praise for someone who was mean most of the time. Maybe the nicer folks will decline from saying anything at all, but more often than not, people usually do not forget how you made them feel.
And while the quote by Maya Angelou goes ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,’ most people DO remember what you said and what you did.
So, it’s a good idea to:
- Practice using words that heal, not hurt.
- If you have nothing kind to say, say nothing.
- See the world with understanding and tolerance, not judgment.
- Live mindfully, enjoy the little things.
- Learn to let go of grudges.
- Strengthen your relationships, if only for the fond memories you leave behind.
Truth is, our life stories do not magically unfold sometime in the future.
It is being written every single day through the decisions we make, the interactions we have with others, the work we do, the standards we hold ourselves to.
On a side note, some years ago I shot off an email to a few of my friends asking them what five words came to mind when they thought of me. The response I received drove me to tears. On low days, I look at those responses and feel grateful.
How we live our lives today—and every day—becomes the story of our lives. And we have to live the way we want to be remembered.
It is up to us how we want our stories to read.
How do you want your story to read?
How do you want to be remembered?
Wednesday Wisdom is a series with short bursts of easy-to-consume wisdom in the form of stories, quotes, anecdotes, reflections, easy meditation, thought-provoking questions and humor.