A few months ago I shared twelve pieces of wisdom my grandmother left behind for me after she passed. This wisdom was written in an old leather-bound journal she aptly named her ‘Inspiration Journal.’ Today I want to discuss seven questions she had written at the bottom of her final entry. Although my grandmother never wrote down her answers to these questions, the questions alone are extremely thought provoking. I’ve listed them below and shared some of my own thoughts about each one. I hope what I’ve shared here inspires you to live boldly and honestly, so that you can answer each question someday with a sense of peace and fulfillment.
1. Am I proud of how I lived?
If you don’t express the passion inside you – the ideas and deeds that make you feel alive – you will die one moment at a time without ever having lived.
Don’t be scared of death. Be scared of leaving too much of your life unlived. Be scared of leading a tedious daily existence that doesn’t empower you to be your best self. A fear of death is simply a fear that you haven’t yet accomplished what you were born to do. When you live a fulfilling life that’s abundant in meaning the thought of dying becomes less worrisome, because your mind isn’t focused on it. Instead, it’s consumed with living passionately in the present moment and embracing all the beauty life has to offer.
Someday inevitability will take place and your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s a spectacle worth watching – one you’re proud to have been a part of. Read 1,000 Little Things.
2. What did I discover?
Some of the best discoveries in life come when you least expect them, in places you never even thought to look. What you were not looking for can end up being more than you ever hoped to find. So seek your goals and dreams diligently, but do not become so obsessed that you develop tunnel vision. Do not blind yourself from all the unpredictable wonders and opportunities passing in your periphery.
Life’s greatest beauty is found in its surprises. Its dynamic nature continually renews the possibilities before you; you honestly never can be certain when the next gust of wind will arrive and what it will blow in your direction. Open yourself to these surprises. Many of them will bring goodness you never knew you were missing.
Remember, you are never too old, too young, too busy, or too educated to find value and joy in new, unexpected opportunities. So stay on the lookout, because with each step down the road of life you take, a fresh supply arrives.
3. How well did I play the hand I was dealt?
Everything in life is gamble. It’s either a daring, rewarding venture, or nothing at all. You never know beforehand what you are capable of; you have to wait, practice and give it time.
It’s time and experience that controls your eventual destiny. Time is like the deck of cards the dealer at a casino is pulling from; it holds all the possibilities. When you sit down at the table, you can’t control the cards you are dealt, but you can control how you play each hand. The more hands you play, the more experienced you get at playing the game.
You shouldn’t bet the farm, but you shouldn’t be overly conservative either. Your bets are just learning experiments. The more experiments you make, the better. Read The Last Lecture.