A legacy is more than a gift that lives on after you. Certainly, a legacy is a contribution to humanity. A legacy provides value to future generations. However, if you are creating your ideal legacy, it will also make your heart bubble with passion and excitement today!
Louisa Alcott wrote:
“When Emerson’s library was burning at Concord, I went to him as he stood with the firelight on his strong, sweet face, and endeavored to express my sympathy for the loss of his most valued possessions, but he answered cheerily, ‘Never mind, Louisa, see what a beautiful blaze they make! We will enjoy that now.’ The lesson was one never forgotten and in the varied lessons that have come to me I have learned to look for something beautiful and bright.”
Emerson left future generations with a philosophy of creativity, spiritual development, and individualism. He saw value and quality in each moment of life. His writings continue to share the message that people have the mental and spiritual capacities to achieve their dreams. He lived a philosophy that continues to benefit humanity.
The building blocks of your legacy are the ideas and philosophies that you live and value. Your contributions will provide something beautiful and bright to cherish during this lifetime. They will increase your sense of aliveness and fill you with the energy of a unique purpose for which you were born. They make up the quality of your life now.
How can you begin creating and living your ideal legacy today?
1. Decide What You Value the Most
Write down all the things that you value, and select at least five core values: those things that provide the foundation for your actions, beliefs, and philosophies. Examples of values are love, health, spirituality, family, career, adventure, peace, and community.
2. Draw a Time Line of Your Life
Draw a long line and mark it by years and months beginning with your birthday. Extend it for decades after your life will have ended. Include all the things you have done and things you want to do. Include the benefits future generations will experience from your contributions. Show how your life’s work will actually continue after you. Your timeline is a very eye opening exercise. Spend adequate time with it and fill in as many details as possible. Then return from time to time to update your timeline and add extra details.
3. Write a Purpose Statement
Notice the themes running through your timeline. They can help to reveal your purpose if you are not already aware of it. A purpose statement is a simple, private statement that guides your daily actions. For example, you might write, “I help others to live happy and healthy lives” or “I create art that brings spiritual awareness.” Do not confuse a purpose statement with a mission statement, which is a more specific way you might fulfill your purpose.
4. Focus on Today
Your timeline presented a large picture. What is your focus just for today? Spend sufficient time focusing on your current steps as well as on the future. How are your actions in each moment supporting your values and contributing to your purpose? If you are on purpose, you will feel authentically happy and fulfilled.
5. Move Forward with Gratitude
Live your ideal legacy by taking positive steps each day toward your vision for a better world. Savor the small treasures in your relationships with people. Live with gratitude for each contribution you have received and created. Give thanks even for the setbacks that ultimately reveal clearer paths forward.
Evangelist, Billy Graham said, “The legacy we leave is not just in our possessions, but in the quality of our lives.” What legacy does the quality of your life reveal today? Envision your ideal legacy. See your role in creating a richer humanity. The legacy you share and live today can create a better world for future generations.