Find an old country graveyard and walk among the decaying headstones. Browse the inscriptions as you become familiar with the sense of the place.
Now sit down on a grassy spot with your back to a tree, and visualize your own headstone in front of you. Consider what that headstone will say a few years from now.
Each of us has only a few years on this planet – whether we are the political leader of a great nation, or are a homeless person living from handout to handout. One day, each of us will be gone, and only the results of our deeds will remain. But which deeds will we choose to become our legacy?
Many people live their lives as if the goal of life were to accumulate money, domination over others, and sexual conquest. Yet, I wonder if those deeds are really the legacy they would wish to see immortalized on their headstone.
Some of the phrases I wish for my own headstone are, “Was of Service,” “Created Happiness and Love,” and “Left the World a Better Place.”
Many of the world’s great thinkers have concluded both that the only meaningful legacy any of us can leave is a more joyful world, and that being of service to others is the only path to our own true happiness in life.
As we work to create light for others,
we naturally light our own way.
– Mary Anne Radmacher
The true meaning of life is to plant trees,
under whose shade you do not expect to sit.
– Nelson Henderson
What you leave behind is not what
is engraved in stone monuments,
but what is woven into the lives of others.
To leave the world a bit better …
to know that one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
The only ones among you who will be really happy
are those who will have sought and found how to serve.
– Albert Schweitzer
While you are sitting quietly under that tree, consider your life purpose. Do you know your life purpose? If you have never considered what the purpose of your life is, take the time now to plan your life. Begin with what you want to see written on your headstone, and work backward in time. Holding the image of how you want to be remembered, visualize your accomplishments 10 years from now, then 5 years, 2 years, and one year. To know what you need to do today, you need to know what you wish to have accomplished for tomorrow.
Because your life is necessarily lived one day at a time – with each day bringing its own petty trials and tribulations, it is very easy to lose sight of your chosen purpose for your life. Every day – preferably first thing each morning, before dealing with the day’s routine – take time to work on what is really important. Take a small step toward your life purpose each day. My affirmation for this is…
I reach toward the shining mountains,
beyond the fog of daily worries.
– Jonathan Lockwood Huie