Resumé Virtues and Eulogy Virtues

Woman sitting at desk in office

I want to start with a caveat – this post is neither about religion or politics. I am however going to mention both to get to the point of the post.

My daughter will soon be starting to prepare for her Bat Mitzvah. I am not a particularly religious person and I only go to a service at the synagogue if my daughter and her classmates at the Hebrew school (she goes twice a week after “regular school”) are doing something at it. Just so you know, I believe that makes me a pretty typical North American Jew.

I recently read an interesting review of Sarah Hurwitz’s book Here All Along: Finding meaning and spirituality, and a deeper connection to life in Judaism, and bought a copy of the book, which I just finished reading.

Now for the politics part, Hurwitz was Michelle Obama’s speech writer. In the book, a section that particularly caught my attention happens to be where she references conservative commentator David Brooks. She explains:

These days our culture is focused mainly on what columnist David Brooks refer to as ‘resumé virtues’ – like wealth, fame, and professional accomplishment, rather than ‘eulogy values,’ which ‘are the ones that are talked about at your funeral — whether you were kind, brave, honest or faithful. Were you capable of deep love?’”

And that folks, is what I want to get at today. I think it’s easy to focus on the resumé virtues it’s often easier to see the rewards that come with those – money, a big house, the admiration of strangers. Some people take the attitude that they’re going to focus on those virtues first and later they’ll get to the whole being the best human being that they can, help others, and show the people that matter to them that they love them.

The thing is, resumé virtues and eulogy virtues don’t have to be mutually exclusive. I’ve written before about congruence, which in this context, is your actions aligning with who you want to be as a person. For me, the closer I am to acting in alignment with who I want to be as a person (eulogy virtues) the happier, more energetic I am, which makes me more focused and productive (resumé  virtues). It’s when I stray from being the person I want to be that I get grumpy, sluggish, and my passion and productivity nose dive. 

So, as you try desperately to carry out your New Year’s resolutions / goals,  remember who you want to be as a person, and only then, how you want to demonstrate that .

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