Morbid? Only if we obsesses over it. Important? Critically important. Making it worth asking.
I like to look at this question in two ways. Firstly, if I died now what would people say about me at my funeral? He was a happy, fun guy who made a lot of jokes, did his job most of the time and asked a lot of questions. People would talk about what I did for work, retell stories, talk about how they either hadn’t seen me for years or ask about friends and family back in Ireland. Standard funeral chatter. Is this the reality? Hard to say because we’re terrible great judges of how we’re actually being perceived. The story we tell ourselves can be miles away from the truth.
This first scenario is hypothetical as it’s assuming you are dead. The other, which is much more realistic is, how do you want people to speak about you when you actually die?
This question can act as a guiding light for purpose. We often work towards material goals such as owning a house, then an investment property, earning more money to spend on more things, then having higher status/power. Will any of these goals matter on our deathbed? I would argue the same as how many friends you had and how hard you honestly worked. The main difference being the impact these aspects had on the well being of others.
Everyone who has ever had the pleasure of gracing our fine planet meets the same end. Death. It unites us all. It’s the great equaliser. The homeless man in the street meets the same fate as Steve Jobs, the cleaner the same as the CEO, the nurse the same as the boxer. This is not to say that life is pointless but to put perspective on where we place our focus.
If you want people to talk about how generous and caring you were, are you living your life in a way that supports this? If you want people to speak about your wealth and glamorous lifestyle, the same question applies. Use this as honest test.
Stop whatever you’re doing for a moment and ask yourself: Am I afraid of death because I won’t be able to do this anymore? – Marcus Aurelius
Remove the negatives
If this simulation is difficult to run or you’re unsure of how you want to be thought of, think of removing the negatives. You don’t want to be know as greedy, a gossip, bitter, angry, jealous or lacking in self-control. I don’t believe our sole purpose on this planet is to maximise our personal return but to help the community as a whole. Being a good person is arguably more important than maximising your own materialistic worth and experience.
We have this habit of seeing things in absolutes. I am either on my way to being the best or I’m the worst person on the face of the earth. We can move laterally in addition to vertically. Being a caring listener can have tremendous impact on the lives of those around you more than flashing cash.
Accept that you go through different stages in your life depending on your experience. Knowledge and life experience is a vital part of this. It should help you to not dwell on past mistakes.
This, is not the end but some day it will be, so live accordingly.