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Thread: Are You Living Your Eulogy or Your Résumé?

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    LB
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    Are You Living Your Eulogy or Your Résumé?

    Today I want every American to see how these men and women lived," President Obama said Sunday, eulogizing the 12 men and women killed in the Washington Navy Yard shooting. He spoke of volunteers who made time to give back to their communities, like "Frank Kohler, giving dictionaries to every third-grader in his county," and "Marty Bodrog, leading the children's Bible study at church." There were fathers like Mike Ridgell, "coaching his daughters' softball teams and joining Facebook just to keep up with his girls, one of whom said he was always the cool dad." There were mothers like Mary Francis Knight, "devoted to her daughters ... who had just recently watched with joy as her older daughter got married," and grandparents like John Johnson, "always smiling, giving bear hugs to his 10 grandchildren ... who would have welcomed his 11th grandchild this fall."

    Have you noticed that when people die, their eulogies celebrate life very differently from the way we define success in our everyday existence? Eulogies are, in fact, very Third Metric. At HuffPost we've made the Third Metric -- redefining success beyond money and power to include well-being, wisdom and our ability to wonder and to give -- a key editorial focus. But while it's not hard to live a Third Metric life, it's very easy not to. It's easy to let ourselves get consumed by our work. It's easy to use work to let ourselves forget the things and the people that truly sustain us. It's easy to let technology wrap us in a perpetually harried, stressed-out existence. It's easy, in effect, to miss our lives even while we're living them. Until we're no longer living them.

    For most of us, our eulogy will be not just the first formal marking down of what our lives were about but the only one. The eulogy is the foundational document of our legacy, of how people remember us, of how we live on in the minds and hearts of others. And it is very telling what you don't hear in eulogies. You almost never hear things like:

    "Of course his crowning achievement was when he made senior vice president."

    Or:

    "What everybody loved most about her was how she ate lunch at her desk. Every day."

    Or:

    "He was proud that he never made it to one of his kid's Little League games because he always wanted to go over those figures one more time."

    Or:

    "She didn't have any real friends, but she had 600 Facebook friends, and she dealt with every email in her inbox every night."

    Or:

    "But he will live on, not in our hearts or memories, because we barely knew him, but in his PowerPoint slides, which were always meticulously prepared."

    No matter how much a person spends his or her life burning the candle at both ends, chasing a toxic definition of success and generally missing out on life, the eulogy is always about the other stuff: what they gave, how they connected, how much they meant to the lives of the real people around them, small kindnesses, lifelong passions and what made them laugh.

    So the question is: Why do we spend so much time on what our eulogy is not going to be?

    "Eulogies aren't résumés," David Brooks wrote in June. "They describe the person's care, wisdom, truthfulness and courage. They describe the million little moral judgments that emanate from that inner region."

    And yet we spend so much time and effort and energy on those résumé entries, which are gone as soon our heart stops beating. Even for those who die with amazing résumés, whose lives were synonymous with accomplishment and achievement, their eulogies are mostly about what they did when they weren't achieving and succeeding -- at least by our current, broken definition of success. For example, look at Steve Jobs, a man whose life, at least as the public saw it, was about creating things, things that were, yes, amazing and game-changing, but when his sister, Mona Simpson, rose to memorialize him at his memorial service at Stanford University, that's not what she focused on.

    Yes, she talked about his work and his work ethic, but mostly as manifestations of his passions. "Steve worked at what he loved," she said. But what really moved him, what he really loved, was love. "Love was his supreme virtue," she said, "his god of gods." And though yes, he loved his work, he loved his family too:
    ~ If you make the mountain any bigger you wont be able to move it later

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    LB
    Peace Love n Pretty Tings LB is offline
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    Cont'd

    When [his son] Reed was born, he began gushing and never stopped. He was a physical dad, with each of his children. He fretted over Lisa's boyfriends and Erin's travel and skirt lengths and Eve's safety around the horses she adored.
    And then she added this touching image: "None of us who attended Reed's graduation party will ever forget the scene of Reed and Steve slow dancing."

    And about his wife: "His abiding love for Laurene sustained him. He believed that love happened all the time, everywhere. In that most important way, Steve was never ironic, never cynical, never pessimistic."

    And then there were lines like these, sprinkled throughout:

    "Steve was humble."

    "Steve liked to keep learning."

    "Steve cultivated whimsy."

    "With his four children, with his wife, with all of us, Steve had a lot of fun."

    "He treasured happiness."

    "He was an intensely emotional man."

    His sister made sure in her eulogy that we knew that Steve Jobs was a lot more than just the guy who invented the iPhone. He was a brother and a husband and a father who knew the true value of what technology can so easily distract us from. Even if you build an iconic product, even one that lives on, what will be foremost in the minds of the people you care about most will be the memories you built in their lives. In her 1951 novel Memoirs of Hadrian, Marguerite Yourcenar has the Roman emperor meditating on his death: "[I]t seems to me as I write this hardly important to have been emperor."

    And Thomas Jefferson's epitaph describes him as "author of the Declaration of American Independence ... and father of the University of Virginia." No mention of the presidency.

    What the old adage that we should live every day as our last usually means is that we shouldn't wait until it's our last day on Earth to begin prioritizing the things that really matter.

    Anyone with a few smartphones and a full email inbox knows that it's easy to live while not being aware we're living. So a Third Metric life would be one lived in a way that's mindful of what our eulogy will one day be. "I'm always relieved when someone is delivering a eulogy and I realize I'm listening to it," joked George Carlin. We may not be listening to our own eulogy, but we're actually writing it all the time, every day. The question is how much we're giving the eulogizer to work with.

    This past summer an obituary of a Seattle woman named Jane Lotter, who died of cancer at 60, went viral. The author of the obit was Lotter herself.

    "One of the few advantages of dying from Grade 3, Stage IIIC endometrial cancer, recurrent and metastasized to the liver and abdomen," she wrote, "is that you have time to write your own obituary." After giving a lovely and lively account of her life, she shows that she lived a life with the true definition of success in mind. "My beloved Bob, Tessa, and Riley," she writes. "My beloved friends and family. How precious you all have been to me. Knowing and loving each one of you was the success story of my life."

    Just months before the historian Tony Judt died of ALS in 2010, he gave an amazing interview to Terry Gross on NPR's Fresh Air. She asked him about his spiritual beliefs. He replied:

    I don't believe in an afterlife. I don't believe in a single or multiple godhead. I respect people who do, but I don't believe it myself. But there's a big "but" which enters in here: I am much more conscious than I ever was, for obvious reasons, of what it will mean to people left behind once I'm dead. It won't mean anything for me, but it will mean a lot to them, and it's important for them, by which I mean my children or my wife or my close friends, that some spirit of me is, in a positive way, present in their lives, in their heads, in their imaginings and so on. So in one curious way I've come to believe in the afterlife as a place where I still have moral responsibilities, just as I do in this life except that I can only exercise them before I get there. Once I get there, it'll be too late. So no god, no organized religion, but a developing sense that there's something bigger than the world we live in, including after we die, and that we have responsibilities in that world.
    So whether you believe in an afterlife, as I do, or not, by being fully present in your life and in the lives of those you love, you are creating your own afterlife and writing your own eulogy. It's a valuable lesson, even more so while we have the good fortune of being healthy and having the energy and freedom and lack of impediments to create a life of purpose and meaning.

    It shouldn't take a near-death experience to remind us of what we're all going to lose one day. According to Colors magazine, something called "living funeral therapy" is becoming increasingly popular in South Korea, which has the highest suicide rate of developed countries. It can involve actually getting in a coffin and having it nailed shut, to experience a glimpse of the finality and closure of death. One operator sometimes has the participants make a list of the people in their lives who matter to them. One woman said the process made her realize she'd been neglecting her husband. "I feel like I've been reborn," she said. "I want to call my husband, to tell him 'thank you,' and 'sorry.'"

    It's an extreme method, and hopefully most of us won't need to be nailed shut inside a coffin to get a sense of what we really value. But the good news is that if you're reading this, there's still time to live up to the best version of your eulogy.

    Are You Living Your Eulogy or Your Résumé? | Arianna Huffington
    ~ If you make the mountain any bigger you wont be able to move it later

  3. #3
    Warrior Queen NikkiGiovanni's Avatar NikkiGiovanni is offline
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    very interesting read....

    i know i try to live the my best and most meaningful life...making sure i touch others in a positive way

    far too many people are disconnected, and when their funerals come, there aren't people who truly know them to give them the proper eulogy
    you ALL AGREE with my opinion, which is why NONE of you ever EFFECTIVELY DISPUTE IT

    you ONLY have faith in the WOMEN'S ability to ELEVATE which is why you only FOCUS ON WOMEN...you ALL have long given up on Black men

    you just don't have the BALLS to OVERTLY AGREE....rather just do it INDIRECTLY

    weak men only can deal with weaker women

    in the presence of strength you diminish...

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    LB
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    I remember when my dad died I could not eulogize him....well at least not in the way my extended family in JA wanted me to...list when he was born, where he lived, what he did etc. I refused to do it because all of that wasnt who he was to me. Nuff ppl were pissed but I refused to read the eulogy. One of my cousins had the task

    I did however do a "memorial" and that allowed me to say what he meant to me and my brother in a manner than mattered. He was our superhero...and that was it...... not some guy who was born and raised in such and such parish, or had worked here or there...none of that mattered to us.

    But no one would let me say that during the funeral since they had their belief of how a eulogy should go. So I think that is part of why this article struck me because I couldnt have articulated why I fought so hard against the way they wanted the eulogy done
    There is so much irony in that recounting your life as a resume means sh*t to those who love you. They only care about how you made them feel while you were alive. So my memorial to him that was poo-poo'ed by some was a true eulogy afterall.

    And then the bigger picture is when you start stressing over work and staying up til morning getting sh*t done, no one is going to remember or more importantly care, that you did those things. Helps you step back and see what you truly value instead of defining yourself by metrics that dont always add up to much. We all get caught up, but the trick is to have reminders that make you step back and re-assess where your real value lies.....sappy but true.
    ~ If you make the mountain any bigger you wont be able to move it later

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    Warrior Queen NikkiGiovanni's Avatar NikkiGiovanni is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by LB View Post
    I remember when my dad died I could not eulogize him....well at least not in the way my extended family in JA wanted me to...list when he was born, where he lived, what he did etc. I refused to do it because all of that wasnt who he was to me. Nuff ppl were pissed but I refused to read the eulogy. One of my cousins had the task

    I did however do a "memorial" and that allowed me to say what he meant to me and my brother in a manner than mattered. He was our superhero...and that was it...... not some guy who was born and raised in such and such parish, or had worked here or there...none of that mattered to us.

    But no one would let me say that during the funeral since they had their belief of how a eulogy should go. So I think that is part of why this article struck me because I couldnt have articulated why I fought so hard against the way they wanted the eulogy done
    There is so much irony in that recounting your life as a resume means sh*t to those who love you. They only care about how you made them feel while you were alive. So my memorial to him that was poo-poo'ed by some was a true eulogy afterall.

    And then the bigger picture is when you start stressing over work and staying up til morning getting sh*t done, no one is going to remember or more importantly care, that you did those things. Helps you step back and see what you truly value instead of defining yourself by metrics that dont always add up to much. We all get caught up, but the trick is to have reminders that make you step back and re-assess where your real value lies.....sappy but true.
    well...i think eulogies might be more formal....stating when and where they were born, who they are survived by etc etc....

    but there should always be a part of the funeral where people get to speak and say what the deceased meant to them...people should have the chance to tell their stories of what the person meant to them....that should ALWAYS be incorporated into a funeral if you ask me

    like you ever go to old people funerals, and the only thing that is being said about them is how active they are in the church???? the children, grandchildren etc etc never get a chance to speak and show the person in their full light....to show just how loving, compassionate etc etc they are....i hate that
    you ALL AGREE with my opinion, which is why NONE of you ever EFFECTIVELY DISPUTE IT

    you ONLY have faith in the WOMEN'S ability to ELEVATE which is why you only FOCUS ON WOMEN...you ALL have long given up on Black men

    you just don't have the BALLS to OVERTLY AGREE....rather just do it INDIRECTLY

    weak men only can deal with weaker women

    in the presence of strength you diminish...

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    LB
    Peace Love n Pretty Tings LB is offline
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    I am not exactly saying that doesnt need to be a part of the funeral process. Yes it makes sense to cover the basics. But in my case some one else wrote it and I was supposed to read it and thier focus is completely different from mine as his child. I refused to read it and they wouldnt let me make too many changes so I said fukk it. I am going to focus on what mattered to me about his life.

    But as you said about old ppl funerals, children, grandchildren etc dont get to express themselves and what the person meant to them in terms of being there for them, helping them ride a bike, etc. which ties back to the point of the article. Those are the more important things to be remembered by.

    I'm tired right now and should find my bed so that may be why my words are coming out too well tonight
    ~ If you make the mountain any bigger you wont be able to move it later

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    Notchilous ladyrastafari's Avatar ladyrastafari is offline
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    i think i living too much OFF my resume and eulogy lol.. i always off doing something.. i believe life is meant to be consumed and digested, not observed and dissected... i swear every day i think about not going to work lol..
    Never waste your time trying to explain who you are to people who are committed to misunderstanding you.

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    Who feels it knows it! Georgeflash's Avatar Georgeflash is offline
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    I could never live my eulogy because it would be the sanitized version of my life.
    Life is messy.
    Say no to drugs.
    Smoke weed.

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    Taj
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    i think most people want to live their eulogy but the responsibilities make it difficult.

    I'm sure for many noone WANTS to work that hard but what is the alternative? kids end up with a shitty education?

    I think society sets the achievement and 'comfortable life' bar so high people feel to not chase it is to perpetually live a disadvantaged life and who wants that.

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    LB
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    I dont think having responsibilities precludes being a kind or compassionate person or someone others look up to.

    I mean, you could be independently wealthy and can do what ever you feel to do when you get up int he morning, and still be the biggest asshole on the planet whereby no one would have a kind word to say about you when you are dead. lol
    ladyrastafari likes this.
    ~ If you make the mountain any bigger you wont be able to move it later

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    MJ7
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    Exclamation

    This is basic HOME TRAINING 101.

    My family values basically reflect a sense of understanding that it's not about me--it's how you live--not what you have that defines you. Character matters and my mother still gives this speech to me to this very day.

    Great read and title.
    Get your copy!!! A Journey Into The Mind of a Black Woman is now available at: https://www.createspace.com/3739335 and Amazon.com. Come check out my blog: The Uppity Sistah! at: http://theuppitysistah.blogspot.com/

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    Taj
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    Quote Originally Posted by LB View Post
    I dont think having responsibilities precludes being a kind or compassionate person or someone others look up to.

    I mean, you could be independently wealthy and can do what ever you feel to do when you get up int he morning, and still be the biggest asshole on the planet whereby no one would have a kind word to say about you when you are dead. lol
    right but I think it does impact on your time and that's one of the most important things you can give ppl - your time.
    “A sharp knife never proclaims it’s sharpness to the world…but the first to fall against it becomes it’s advocate.”

    You can put any face behind a mask but be careful cos someone else might be pretending. You might not be the only one with a secret -- Cassie/Gretel

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    Who feels it knows it! Georgeflash's Avatar Georgeflash is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by LB View Post
    I dont think having responsibilities precludes being a kind or compassionate person or someone others look up to.

    I mean, you could be independently wealthy and can do what ever you feel to do when you get up int he morning, and still be the biggest asshole on the planet whereby no one would have a kind word to say about you when you are dead. lol
    I've been to several gun man funeral in Jamaica and if I did not know these reprobates personally I would think they walked on water based on the eulogy.
    Say no to drugs.
    Smoke weed.

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    LB
    Peace Love n Pretty Tings LB is offline
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    people lie, people tell the truth, or the reality is based on who you are speaking to.
    How many serial killers have mothers who know them as "good lil boys"

    *shrug*
    ~ If you make the mountain any bigger you wont be able to move it later

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    where de crix Oneshot's Avatar Oneshot is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by LB View Post
    I dont think having responsibilities precludes being a kind or compassionate person or someone others look up to.

    I mean, you could be independently wealthy and can do what ever you feel to do when you get up int he morning, and still be the biggest asshole on the planet whereby no one would have a kind word to say about you when you are dead. lol
    it does not really matter what people think of you when you are dead, because you are dead, it is totally irrational part of humanity, i dont understand we long for that legacy, like it is going to do some good in the afterlife.

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