COMMENTARY: Living a Life That Matters 757.1

I saw a cartoon showing an old king checking in at the gates of heaven. He introduced himself as “Edward The Good.” The gatekeeper with a large book in front of him said, “Well, Eddie, we’ll be the judge of that.”

The point is that, in the end, generous self-appraisals won’t matter. Our epitaphs will be written and eulogies delivered by the people who knew how we lived.

There’s a story told about Alfred Nobel reading his own obituary because the people at the newspaper mistakenly thought he’d died. This gave him the opportunity to see how he would be remembered. The article described Mr. Nobel as a brilliant chemist who made a great fortune as the inventor of dynamite. For lots of people, being remembered a brilliant and rich would be quite enough, but it wasn’t for Mr. Nobel.

After significant reflection about his desire to leave a more positive legacy, he bequeathed his considerable wealth to establish the Nobel Prizes to acknowledge great human achievements.

Few of us can create something as momentous as the Nobel Prizes, but we can all live lives that earn a eulogy our children and parents would be proud of.

In the hurlyburly of everyday living, it’s hard to keep perspective. Money, position, pride, and power seem so important – until they’re not. What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom, and for what.

So, if you want to know how to live your life, just think about what you want people to say about you after you die and live backwards.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

See a beautiful slide show of the What Will Matter poem;

You can receive these commentaries by e-mail each week by subscribing at our newsletter signup page,  you also can receive them each day (along with videos and all other contents of Michael Josephson’s What Will Matter blog) by downloading our app for smart phones, finally you can subscribe to the podcasts from iTunes at

Comments 8

  1. I read your article and found it to be life changing. I now view things differently and I hope that I can make a difference in people’s life so they inturn do the same for others.

    1. Post
  2. I so appreciate your commentaries. Everything you’ve said is vitally important. Your efforts to remind us of what’s important and keep us on track are invaluable. I absolutely love knowing you are there for all of us. You are a national treasure, Michael. Thank you for what you do.

    1. Post

      Thank you so much for this much appreciated affirmation. I am so glad you find value in my efforts. Please send friends so we can build a dynamic online community.

  3. Pleased to hear you will be at the Rel.Ed.Congress in Anaheim. Thank you for keeping your good thoughts in words available to all.

    1. Post
  4. “What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom, and for what.”

    You have said this often, and it always gives me pause. Sometimes, ethics are quiet, unseen, un-noticable, or unrecognized. Sometimes, reputation is merely another form of coin. Sometimes, what matters is not what will be remembered, but the quiet grace of improving the lives of others without any payments to the ego.

  5. Pingback: Living a Life That Matters | What I Gotta Say About It

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *