My older brother passed away on March 20. It was completely unexpected and way too soon. He was just 61 years old and fully engaged in his life.
At his Celebration of Life, I reflected on what I had learned from how he lived his life; and on how I could make some positive meaning from the huge gaping hole of sadness still present in my heart.
The morning of the celebration, I was not sure that I was going to be able to speak. While I wanted to share some memories of my brother, I felt nauseous and weepy, and unsure I would be able to pull it off.
At the last minute, I decided I wanted to do it…and no matter what…even if I was a blubbering mess…I was going to do it.
I am so glad I did.
My big brother taught me many things; mostly, he taught me to engage! Dene was a ‘yes-man’ in the last few years of his life. He was up for anything! If he was invited somewhere, he went. If he was sitting beside someone on the bus, he would strike up a conversation. If he attended a curling event, he would cheer loudly.
When I reflected on this gift from Dene, it reminded me of much of what I believe to be true about the pathway to living a good life.
I think that all of us – every human being – ultimately, wants to be happy. You already know that happiness does not come from outside of you…it does not randomly arrive, or not arrive, based on external factors. Happiness is an internal state, and is always created by what you choose to DO.
One thing you can do – like my older brother taught me – is to engage! What does it meant to ‘engage’. Very simply, it means that you:
- choose to participate in events that are important to people you care about
- jump in when you see a challenge before you
- say ‘yes’ to a chance to help someone who could use it
- connect with people you know, and also those you don’t
- smile as you pass a stranger (and a friend)
- do your best at work
- ask for what you need in order for you to do your best at work
- help others do their best at work
- be grateful for the people who touch your life
- let others know what you appreciate about them
I am so grateful that I chose to engage with Dene throughout his life, that I told him how much he meant to me, that I valued every moment we had together, that I laughed – and cried – with him, and that I chose to share my memories of him at his celebration.
Choose to engage. Notice how you feel. Repeat.