“Recently I’ve been thinking about the difference between the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the ones you list on your résumé, the skills that you bring to the job market and that contribute to external success. The eulogy virtues are deeper. They’re the virtues that get talked about at your funeral, the ones that exist at the core of your being.” ~ David Brooks
I have come to a stage in my life where I am attending more funerals. My friends and their spouses are now passing and as I attend the Celebrations of Life, it gives me pause to reflect on what matters most in life. We live in a society that values success based on accomplishments. I remember a university professor telling me that getting my doctoral degree would look good on my résumé. He then told me that being on the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) would also be good for my résumé, so the over-achiever in me applied. I earned my doctoral degree and served as the first student-voting member of the ABOR and along with all of my other accomplishments; I had a good-looking résumé. But, so what? Most people didn’t even know I had a doctoral degree, the only time I used it was to sign correspondence for grants and letters of recommendation. At one point in my career, I realized I was no longer going to say yes to something just because it would look good on my résumé. The things I said yes to would have to provide a deeper meaning in my life.
I now realize that for me, the eulogy virtues are the important things to nurture. I spend more time now focusing on how I show up each day and the relationships I develop and foster with others. The accomplishments on my résumé aren’t my goals any longer. I look for how I can best serve my purpose in life; in Sanskrit this is known as dharma. Each morning prior to meditation, I ask the Deepak Chopra’s Four Soul questions:
The answers to these questions change, but with time my answers have become deeper and less egocentric and more universal. The answers become my guiding principals in life and they help me to focus my attention on my true desires, which are after all the eulogy virtues.
Are résumé virtues or eulogy virtues more important in your life? Why?
What words and phrases would you like people to say about you at your eulogy?
“Don't let people who don't matter too much, matter too much.” ~ Wes Moore
I was recently watching Super Soul Sunday and Oprah was interviewing Wes Moore and he made the statement above and it was a good reminder that I worry too often about what others think. I fell victim to this again recently when I was in a golf tournament. I am relatively new to golf and my husband asked me to join him in a scramble tournament. In scramble format, all players tee off, choose the best shot, and all play their next shots from the location of the best shot. I did not know the other players in the team and I did not want to let them down because of my skill level. I once again was getting worried about what others would think of me.
Prior to the day of the event, I practiced at the tournament course and did terrible – I got mad, cussed worse than Melissa McCarthy in her movie The Heat and even threw a club. Even though I meditate daily and practice mindfulness, I am still human and lose my cool (not as much as I used to, but it still happens). After the round of golf and reflecting that I was not living in a mindful and peaceful manner, I knew that I needed to journal about the experience. Awareness is the key, and I was aware that this was atrocious behavior that I wanted to change. As I journaled, I realized that I was not living in the present moment, I was worried about what others would think of me and I was returning to one of my old core beliefs that I was not good enough. Remembering that I took up golf as a fun way to spend time with my husband, enjoy nature and live in the present moment, I knew that I needed to follow that philosophy for the tournament. I also realized I was worrying about people I will probably never see again in my life and I was letting what they thought of me matter way too much.
This story has a happy ending as I had a blast at the tournament. I set my intention to do my best and detach from the outcome. No, we didn’t win the tournament, but we weren’t in last place either. I was quite surprised that we used my shot as the best one more times than I ever imagined. I might not hit the ball far, but I hit it straight and with the advantage from the women’s tees I had some drives that we used, along with some chips and putts. I even won the closest to the pin challenge for women (okay it was mostly men in the tournament, but I got a new pair of golf shoes out of it so I was happy), I won a $50 raffle prize and $15.00 at the Casino. I lived in the present moment, enjoyed the beautiful course and the fun times with my husband and the other two men in our team. I never cussed, threw my clubs, or got upset. For me, this was a great reminder to let go of what others think of me, to do my best each and every day and detach from the outcome.
Do you ever let people who don’t matter too much, matter too much?
What could you do to let go of worrying about what others think about you?
"Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods. You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences." ~ Daniel Gilovich
After my recent purging of stuff, I really began to take stock of my stuff and what it really means to me and about me. I have been learning over the last several years about the research that having experiences is more beneficial to us than purchasing stuff. So, I have been fostering more experiences with friends. Now, that is not to say that I didn’t love the golf balls, flameless candles, flowers and books that I received for my birthday, but I think the memory of doing things with friends will have a longer lasting memory.
A friend and I have our birthdays within two weeks of each other and we have adopted the philosophy of having experiences with one another. The last two years we have gone to Mount Lemmon and spent time together chatting, meditating and hiking and I treasure those times together. Even the experiences that didn’t live up to our expectations create memories that we laugh about for years. We both enjoy walking labyrinths and we found what sounded like a great place with a lot of labyrinths. But it ended up being a little bizarre; on one labyrinth we even rode an adult sized big wheel. But, the memories of that experience trigger all the laughs we had and strengthen the bonds of our friendship.
For birthdays, another friend and I go to lunch and the movies; it is a fun filled day where we spend one-on-one quality time together and cherish our friendship. Many friends and I now just celebrate life events by getting together and connecting. To me time spent with friends is the best gift of life. I am blessed to have so many friends and I am grateful for all of the experiences that I have from our times together. I treasure the time we spend together doing simple and amazing things.
Do you prefer experiences or stuff when celebrating life events like birthdays?
Think of some of your favorite memories in life – are they about experiences or things you purchased or were given to you?
“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.” John Ruskin
I am a Pluviophile. Do you know what a pluviophile is? It is a lover of rain. I live in the desert southwest and we average about 11-12 inches of rain per year. So rain brings joy to my heart. I love it and so do the plants – we have had a good monsoon and our mountains are lush and green. Today we are having a gentle rain and it is calming and peaceful. Typically in the summer we have monsoons and we receive a lot of rain in a short amount of time, but today and I am grateful for the soft and tender rain.
As a pluviophile, I delight in the smell of rain. I love it when I go outside prior to a rainstorm and get a whiff of that beautiful fragrance of approaching rain. I am not big on perfumes, but I would use the smell of rain or request it as a fragrance for my car if it could be bottled. I revel being outside in the rain. I took my cup of coffee outside and sat in my chair under the porch and watched the rain hit the plants and the droplets glistened on the stems. I enjoyed seeing how the water drops formed and rippled out on the flagstone and admired the beauty of each raindrop. We are fortunate in Tucson to have stunning blue skies, but the grayness of a rainy day is dramatic in another way – everything appears softer and fills me with a sense of peace. Pluviophiles also love the sound of rain. Listening to water in its many forms brings me joy. Today, I have treasured hearing the sound of rain on my new roof and the sound as it hits the ground. There is no need for music on rainy days for rain is a primordial sound and I appreciate the changes in rhythm and tempo as the intensity of the rain changes.
Today is a perfect day with the gentle rain, but every day is a perfect day when you live in the present moment. There are many kinds of weather and I appreciate each kind for what it offers. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow states, “The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain.” May you find peace and joy in each day no matter what type of weather.
Are you a pluviophile? What do you like best about rain?
Peggy Steffens is an artist and Chopra Certified Meditation Instructor
My goal is to build a community with like-minded individuals who want to grow, share and learn from one another. Please post comments to enrich the experience for all.