An important aspect of an ethical will is being able to share with others the life lessons we’ve learned over the years. Why is this important? To begin with it’s useful to reflect on how much wisdom we’ve actually gained from our experiences. Some of our most profound lessons learned come from the so-called “bad” events in our lives. For me, at the tender age of twelve, I lost my dear dog, Mickey. It was a devastating event. We had been inseparable. From that and the loss of another dear friend years later, I eventually learned that nothing remains constant. Everything changes and no matter how much we may love another intensely it cannot stop the inevitable – their death. Today, a life lesson I know from experience is that we must live and love each day as if it may be our last.
Sharing our life lessons with others permits them to understand what guides us. And I think it’s also a way for people to begin to reflect on their own lessons learned. For the young our ethical will can provide a living example of the power of life experiences to teach us wisdom.
Exercise: Turn to a blank page in your ethical will notebook and at the top write, “Life Lessons.” Now use each of the following prompts below to write down your lessons learned. Some of these may not apply to you. Skip those and move on to the next. Remember that you’ll eventually transfer your notes to the front of your notebook when you finalize your ethical will at the end of the series. As with my personal example above, try to give the background story to a lesson you’ve learned.
From my father I’ve learned….
From my mother I’ve learned….
From my favorite teacher I’ve learned….
From my best friend I’ve learned….
From my work life I’ve learned….
From my (partner, spouse) I’ve learned….
From my children I’ve learned….
From my brother I’ve learned….
From my sister I’ve learned….
From my neighbor I’ve learned….
From my cat I’ve learned….
From my dog I’ve learned….
From old age I’ve learned…
What I’ve learned from failure is….
What I’ve learned from success is….
What I’ve learned from my faith is….
Watch next week for Part Five ~ Expressing Forgiveness.
Photo by Todd Baker