My father-in-law passed away last month at the age of 96. His was a life well-lived, and he left behind an extended family who loved him deeply. He was our “Papi,” the patriarch of the family.
I’ve always been fond of the quote, “To live in the hearts of those we leave behind is not to die.” This is certainly true about Papi.
I first heard the quote in the 8th grade. It touched my heart and mind with a sense of optimism and tenderness. From that one sentence, I realized the people I had lost who were special to me were not truly gone from my life as long as I held memories of them close to me.
I think it was in college or shortly thereafter the realization hit me that the quote is even more powerfully about what we give to others and how we contribute to their lives and memories.
It’s not about grandiose achievements – while those are great, they are for history books and Wikipedia.
It’s about the everyday little things. Kindness, understanding, sharing, forgiveness, laughter, listening, helping, caring, guidance, friendship, love – those gifts of ourselves that we give to each other. These are the things that help us in our lives each day and become the memories we hold in our hearts.
Perhaps we value those things the most when we receive them because we know the effort it takes to give them. They are all conscious choices to step out of ourselves and do something for someone else.
I once worked with a man who was consistently cheerful. Paul could be stern at times or irritated, and he had endured many hardships in life. But he always bounced back to a generally cheerful state within minutes. I remember asking him one day what his secret was. Paul told me, “I try to make a positive difference for at least three people every day. That goal keeps me grounded and gives me perspective about my attitude.”
His words stuck with me. Every day is an opportunity to make a difference for someone else, however small it may be. And every day, there are small gifts to be received if we are open to them.
“To live in the hearts of those we leave behind“ is more than a tally at the end of your life – it’s a mantra for living your life well each day, of creating and nurturing connections with the people who are important to you, and even making small differences for strangers with a compliment or help with a door, or a reassuring smile.
Here’s to creating heart memories every day.
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About Lynda-Ross Vega
Lynda-Ross Vega is a partner at Vega Behavioral Consulting, Ltd. She specializes in helping corporate leaders, entrepreneurs, and individuals with interpersonal communications, team dynamics, personal development, and navigating change. Lynda-Ross is co-creator of Perceptual Style Theory, a revolutionary behavioral psychology theory and assessment system that teaches people how to unleash their natural strengths and build the life and career they dream of. For free information on how to succeed in business and in life doing more of what you do best, visit https://www.YourTalentAdvantage.com.
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