One of the marks of our species is our limitless capacity to learn. Sometimes we learn how to do something we’ve never done before. Sometimes we learn facts about the world, about other people, and about ourselves.
These sorts of things make us smarter and more skillful. But what’s really important are the things that make us wiser, our learned beliefs about what works and what doesn’t, what leads to happiness and fulfillment.
It’s a tradition in many Jewish families for parents to pass on these life lessons in the form of an “ethical will.” The document, often in the form of a letter, is a kind of spiritual and intellectual autobiography that can be a treasured memento to future generations.
In addition, the experience of putting into words nuggets of hard-earned wisdom can be enormously uplifting and gratifying. There’s no prescribed format, but an easy way is to complete this sentence: “I’ve learned that ________” or “I believe that _________.”
Once you start thinking of all the valuable things you’ve learned, you’re likely to unleash a flood of thoughts. To help identify and sort through what’s important, state your insights and beliefs in relation to 12 key topics:
Religion, faith, and spirituality
Personal integrity, character, and ethics
Marriage and family relationships
Friendship and other relationships
Money and material possessions
Success and failure
Education and experience
Charity and service
Drinking and drugs
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.
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