Amy Rees Anderson

What will be talked about at your funeral? The importance of eulogy virtues.

David Brooks, columnist for the New York Times wrote an awesome article in 2015 called “The Moral Bucket List” (well worth the time to read!). Here is an excerpt from the article that perfectly explains the answer to a question I was asked the other day as to why I donate so much of my time to speaking at Universities and helping students. :

“About once a month I run across a person who radiates an inner light. These people can be in any walk of life. They seem deeply good. They listen well. They make you feel funny and valued. You often catch them looking after other people and as they do so their laugh is musical and their manner is infused with gratitude. They are not thinking about what wonderful work they are doing. They are not thinking about themselves at all…

…It occurred to me that there were two sets of virtues, the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that are talked about at your funeral — whether you were kind, brave, honest or faithful. Were you capable of deep love?

We all know that the eulogy virtues are more important than the résumé ones. But our culture and our educational systems spend more time teaching the skills and strategies you need for career success than the qualities you need to radiate that sort of inner light. Many of us are clearer on how to build an external career than on how to build inner character.”

The reason I choose to spend so much of my time that way is because it has become one of my life goals to try and change the fact that “our culture and educational systems spend more time teaching the skills and strategies you need for career success than the qualities you need to radiate that sort of inner light.”

When I think of all the many things I could teach students at the Universities about that will bring the utmost value to their lives, I can think of nothing more important than sharing with them the importance of living their lives by those “eulogy virtues”, teaching them the importance of integrity; the importance of being brave enough to always do the right thing regardless of what consequences may follow; the importance of treating others with love and respect and kindness; the importance of having faith; and the importance of recognizing that their best successes will come as a result of loving and helping others to excel.

While teaching students science, math, engineering, etc are important and will prove to be useful in their external careers, teaching our young people the importance of those “eulogy virtues” is by far the most important thing we can teach them. If we fail to teach them to live by the virtues of being “kind, brave, honest, or faithful” etc, then we will have failed to teach them how to live genuinely successful lives.

Have a glorious Monday everyone, and be sure to radiate your inner light so you can spread a little sunshine (heaven knows we could all use some sunshine this time of year!).  And there is no better teacher than example 🙂

~Amy Rees Anderson

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