Exercise: Write Your Own Eulogy
When people die, there is often a tradition of being eulogized by a loved one. Eulogies are words of praise that can provide comfort to loved ones and even a sense of inspiration.
An exercise that can evoke the urgency of living your values, right now and in everything you do, is to write your own eulogy.
The eulogy you write might be a short biography highlighting major events in your life. It might be a description of your values and how they showed up in your decisions and actions.
Part I: In your mind's eye, choose a family member or friend who will deliver your eulogy. They have been asked to stand up and say a few words about your life – what was important to you and how you manifest what mattered to you.
Now, write down the words you want your friend to deliver. Word for word. Give yourself at least 30 minutes to reflect and write. You will provide the specific examples from your life as you have lived it up until today. There is no need for justification or embellishment. Include small ways you have lived your values, regardless of whether it made an impression on others.
As you are writing this, you may be aware of challenges you have had, or are having, in living a life that reflects what is most important to you.
Part II: Now imagine that today you start to take small steps, every day, to more fully embody your values. And, in fact you do just this. It is now five years from now and you have just died. This same friend has been asked to stand up and talk about your life.
This part of the exercise allows you to imagine things in your future that your friend will talk about. Imagine, concretely, what additional things this person will say about you. Again, be as specific as possible. While you can make up memories, they should be ones that you can also imagine bringing about in the next five years. It is now 2021, what new memories have you created in your relationships? Specifically, which relationships have you made changes in over the past five years? Have you worked more or less hours? Have you worked differently? Write down "memories" that have been created over the past five years, starting in July 2016 up until your death in July 2021. Create memories of how you spent time and effort at play, giving back to others, loving others, and anything else that you would like your friend to share about you in your eulogy.
Part III: In the coming two weeks, take one small step in one area of where your values manifest: relationships, career, spirituality, learning, play, helping others, etc.... . After you have done it, write a line or two that your friend can share upon your death, sharing with others the small ways in which you lived your values.