If you don’t know your purpose, envision your funeral
I had forgotten about this. Earlier in my life, I did this technique where you visualize your own funeral.
- Picture various people (good friend / family member / community / co-worker) getting up to say a few words about you
- The type of person you were
- What you stood for
- How you lived
I remember doing this and had listed a whole spectrum of things that were important to me at that time.
I also did it again when I was at “my worst”. By worst I mean when I actually thought I was weeks away from dying. I was deep in a “I wasted my life” mindset and deep in regret about all that I “didn’t do” and the type of person I had turned into. It came out more of the opposite of what the exercise intended but it’s still useful as I reflect on it now. I imagined all the worst things people would say about me at my funeral. My deepest regrets. That I was a bitch, that I was always “too busy” for people I loved, that I was always chasing money & success, and what saddened me the most when I imagined my funeral back at that time, was that “noone knew who the real me was, not even myself”. Up until that turning point in my life, I was too afraid to find out who I was, and never gave myself permission to “be me” whoever that was. Getting “rich”, owning possessions, living my life so closed-off from other people, was not a life, and not something I would be proud of at my death. So the “opposite” of that is what I really value.
Since that time I’ve been on a life-discovering mission, always seeking what is real about this world.. what is the truth, who are we, what are we doing here, is there a purpose?
I’ve been on a trip of self-discovery; from “thinking I knew” what my purpose was, to being ecstatically happy to be “on my path” to then having to face all my deepest-fears and experiencing the most hellish dimension available to us humans; “the dark night of the soul“. Where every belief you had, every “truth” you knew, everything you thought was “right about you” was turned on its head and a new way of looking at the world is birthed. I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone, although I think most people go through it at some point, and I’m still going through the remnants of it now as I really gave myself a beating (our minds are our worst enemies.. noone is as cruel to us as our own thoughts), so I will not say that I’m totally “out of the dark” yet because I still really miss the “happy & carefree” Penny that had emerged just before I stepped off the cliff. But today I’m thinking again about which direction to take in life, and a couple of youtube videos reminded me of the “eulogy analogy”.
What would you want people to say at your funeral?
Your family, your co-workers, your friends, your partner, etc. – anyone that has a meaningful connection to you. The best things that they would say… about the type of person you were, what you stood for, & how you lived.. is what you are aiming for, it’s your “best-self”, it’s your ultimate “life purpose”.
Those are the qualities you subconsciously or consciously value that you would regret “not living up to”; those are the values you hold dear to your soul. That’s your true “bucketlist”, true life-path, true mission, true life-purpose.
Identify your core values and “be that”. Your “legacy” is your mission.
- What did they admire about you?
- What characteristics are you known for?
- What is the vision you portray?
- What kind of friend or family member are you?
- What talents are you known for?
- What impact have you made on their lives?
- What did you help them with?
From that exercise, you could glean another list:
- What am I passionate about?
- When am I the happiest?
- What makes me smile?
- Who in your life matters to you most?
- What are my deepest core values?
- Looking back at your life; what matters to you most?
- What do you most wish people knew about you?
- What am I most proud of?
Integrity, faith, humour, friendship, family, patience, enthusiasm, passion, etc.