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Taking Stock of Our Lives

Hearing from readers is one of the great joys of writing. Each of you is journeying through The Well-Lived Life on your own path, following relevant threads of thought and arriving at different insights. It’s a delight to get your trip reports. 

One theme is the ways people are taking stock of their lives. Here are some techniques: 

  • Imagine your life ending abruptly– right now. This is not intended to be grim. My first thought would be: I’m so glad I drank that bottle of expensive wine instead of saving it for a special occasion. And why did I spend so much time flossing? But then we turn to questions that remind us of the impact we’re having – of our importance in this world. What responsibilities would we leave dangling? Maybe family we’re caring for, community commitments, a pet? What about messes –concrete or emotional – things we always intended to sort out? How about the contribution to the community we’ve intended to make – volunteering more, donating more? What about all that living we’ve been postponing for some future day?
  • Get together with friends and have everyone write their own eulogy. Pass them around for comment. Result: laughter, increased self-awareness, and maybe a surprising “to do” list.
  • Set up a group like The Final Run, organized by my architect friend Martin Golder. Martin says the goal is to meet regularly “to design our lives and drink red wine.” “For 25 years, I met every month with another architect, a mythologist and a philosophy prof,” he writes, “but two are now dead. I put out a call on Facebook to start up The Final Run and we have about 6 people, which is a good number.” 
  • Visit a Death Café. Café participants have open-ended conversations about death with the goal of living a more meaningful life. Since September 2011, 8254 cafes have been held in 65 countries. The organizers say they are energized by the amazing quality of the dialogue at the events and they are overwhelmed by the interest they have received.

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