Imagine you’re attending your own funeral.
You’re sitting in the back pew of the church observing how everyone is grieving your loss (of course no one can see you).
It’s time for the eulogy and you’re literally at the edge of your seat because you’re anxious about how a close relative or friend can possibly sum up your life in a few minutes.
What will they say? What would you want them to say?
Most of us spend very little time thinking about the inevitable until it’s too late.
Fewer still never consider how they would like to be remembered by loved ones.
But if you’re struggling to discover your life purpose, taking some time to consider how you want to be remembered after you die can help clarify your values and focus on what matters most.
If you’ve attended any funerals recently, you know that most eulogies follow a general structure.
They start of with some of kind of introduction, then a brief biographical sketch of the person such as family upbringing, work life, and accomplishments. Then the remarks often take a turn to the deeper meaning of a person’s life to loved ones left behind.
David Brooks, in his book, The Road to Character, highlights the work if Jewish Rabbi, Joseph Soloveitchik, who talked about the internal battle ensuing between our two natures which he called Adam I and Adam II.
The former represented what Brooks calls the “resume virtues” while the latter represent the “eulogy virtues.”
Resume virtues are all about external images of success and achievement while eulogy virtues are all about love and connection.
During the life of a person, especially in the younger years, the resume virtues seem to be all there is. But during a eulogy, they are nothing more than a quick introduction to the real person.
Discover the real you to discover your life purpose
If you want to discover the real you, the real reason why you were put on this earth, you need to spend some time exploring your eulogy virtues.
So I’ll cut to the chase. When you spend time with your eulogy virtues, you’ll discover that your purpose is simply to love and be loved.
This is true for every person no matter their station in life or profession.
Further, if you’re struggling to connect with your real purpose, you’re likely focussing too much on Adam I.
You’re likely preoccupied with finding a purpose that imbues you with all the trappings of external success and adulation.
To be reminded of your real life purpose, you need to cultivate your eulogy virtues long before the end.
Writing your own eulogy and reading it every so often is a great way to stay connected to your eulogy virtues.
What do you write? A little game of this or that will help as you reflect on your life and what’s most important to you. Here goes:
Career or calling?
For many of us, our identities are wrapped up in what we do for a living.
Resume virtues operate on this level. Eulogy virtues operate on the level of calling.
What’s your calling? You’ll discover that your true calling will transcend any career path.
Transactional or relational?
Is every interaction with another human being all about getting something out of the exchange or is it about building and strengthening relationships?
Image or integrity?
Are you more concerned with how you appear to others or with staying true to your values and principles?
Convenience or commitment?
Do you bail when the going gets tough or do you stay the course in service to some greater good beyond yourself?
Facebook or face-to-face?
Are you cultivating most of your deeper relationships online or offline?
Cultivate your Eulogy Virtues
How did you do? Did you find yourself gravitating more toward your resume virtues or eulogy virtues?
If you’ve found yourself leaning toward resume virtues but yearn to cultivate your eulogy virtues, go over these questions again.
Come up with your own questions. Then write your own eulogy.
Finally, reflect on what you’ve written.
Have others you love and trust read it, even add to it. Then work backwards in order to create the life you truly want—a life of love, connection, and meaning.
There you have it. Your life purpose.