Does It Matter How Long We Are Remembered?

It is comforting to think that after we die, we will be remembered by others still living. But if we aren’t, what does that mean?

While human life spans have increased — in fact, more than doubled — in the last century or two, life is still exceedingly short. No one has managed to live past a hundred and fifty years old.

The way to immortality, then, is through our legacy. The children we raise. The work that we did that survives us. The stories and memories that continue to live on.

This is a common message through media. Emotional movies tug at our heartstrings, with characters saying that they feel the presence of a loved one. It is a common theme, understandably, at memorial services.


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss a related question: ‘What gives a person value?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘What makes you you?’


There are humans who have such an impact that they survive in our collective memory. It is usually through a discovery or artistic creation or a momentous feat of some kind. We know the name and achievements of someone who lived a thousand years ago. It would be nice if we were to have such an impact that we would be remembered or celebrated for hundreds or even thousands of years.

But would it really? It really makes no difference to you, after you die. Your death is not made better or happier if your name goes down in history.

Isn’t it more important to live your life in a fulfilling way right now? The future is uncertain at best, and won’t, barring unforeseen increases in human lifespans, include you?

Alternately, if you are not remembered, or only remembered for a short span of time, did your life, your existence, really mean anything at all?

Does it matter how long we are remembered?

Related questions: What gives a person value? Why are people afraid of death? What would you say to people in the future? How do you want to be remembered? Should we be concerned with legacy?

Who Do You Want To Reestablish Contact With?

Of all the people you have known over your lifetime, are there people you have lost touch with that you would like to contact once again?

As social animals, the relationships we have with others are tremendously important. Part of what makes life enjoyable is the pleasure we get from the presence of other people. The company of a good friend is irreplaceable.

And yet, as the years go by, we might lose touch with one or more of these people. There are many reasons why this might happen: someone moves away. Busy lives and/or full schedules. A falling out over religion, or politics, or some other personal matter. You can probably think of others.


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss a related question: ‘Are we too busy?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘What are our responsibilities to others?’


Technology is a two-edged sword when it comes to maintaining relationships.

In some ways, it is easier than ever to stay in touch. People carry phones with them everywhere. Video conferencing is ubiquitous. Sending a text message or an email is fast and easy, and messages can travel around the world in a matter of moments.

However, social media — despite the name — inhibits social interaction. If you can read a post, scroll though someone’s feed, or watch a recording, why would you need additional contact? In fact, calls are frowned upon in favor of texts, yet a text message is much less interactive than a call.

Is there someone — or multiple someones — from your life that you wish you were more frequently in touch with? Whose company you miss, but for whatever reason you are no longer in regular contact?

If a good friend, or mentor, or confidant, has died, of course, they are beyond connection. Short of that, can you pinpoint exactly why you lost touch with someone you like? And what, if anything, might you do to change that?

Related questions: Who do you miss? What do you get out of social media? What are our responsibilities to others? Are we too busy?

What Impact Do You Think You Have On Other People?

It makes sense that as we go through life, others have an impact on you. It is also true that you have an impact on them as well. How?

It is only natural to think primarily about yourself. You have wants and needs, and meeting them takes up a majority of your time and effort.

However, it is beneficial to think about other people occasionally, as well. You might consider how other people feel, and what they might need or want.


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss a related question: ‘What are our responsibilities to others?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘Are we too busy?’


One thing that you may not have considered is what effect you might have on the people around you.

It is pretty easy to understand the impact that people around you have on you. A teacher might inspire you. A bad driver can frustrate you. Someone who flirts with you may bring excitement, and so on.

However, what about the reverse? What do your actions, your example, your conversation mean to the people you come into contact with? Do you inspire, frustrate, or flirt?

And as a corollary, might you change the way you interact with people, to try and bring about different reactions?

What impact do you have on other people?

Related questions: How do you think others see you? How do you want to be remembered? What have you done that was inspired by someone else? Have you ever had a mentor? Been a mentor?

In What Ways Do You Defy Gender Stereotypes?

Society has some pretty well-established gender stereotypes. In what ways do you not match up with those stereotypes?

Gender stereotypes are pervasive, starting with people’s behavior towards infants. Boys are given blue blankets; girls pink. Young boys play with action figures, while girls play with dolls.

These assumptions continue to adulthood. Men like cars and sports, and are emotionally distant. Women, on the other hand, wear dresses and makeup, and tend to be flighty.


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss a related question: ‘What gives a person value?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘What makes you you?’


Of course, in reality, each and every one of us is an individual, and so we may find ourselves in agreement with all, some, or none of these commonly-held gender expectations.

Are there any ways in which you feel you don’t fit in with conventional gender roles? How so? And what does that difference mean for how you see yourself, and how others in the community might see you? In what ways do you defy gender stereotypes?

Related questions: How are you a non-conformist? How do you think others see you? Individual or society? What role do sports play in our society?

 

How Could You Show Your Appreciation For Others More?

When it comes to gratitude, there are two main parts. The first is figuring out what you are grateful for, and the second is showing your appreciation. Both are important, albeit in different ways.

There are many benefits to appreciating others. For example, thinking about the positive aspects in your life can make you happier. Rather than focus on your problems, counting all the ways that other people help make your life better makes you think about, well, how your life is better.

Thinking about what you are thankful for, particularly as part of a morning routine, can help set the tone for the day. Rather than, say, being upset about being stuck in rush hour traffic, perhaps you will be grateful for having a car in the first place. That improves your mood, reduces stress, and improves the chances of making you and the people around you happier.


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss a related question: ‘What makes a tradition?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘What are you optimistic about?’


But there is a second part to appreciation, and that is showing it to others. The benefit in this case is external rather than internal. Expressing your gratitude to someone else is designed to make the other person feel good.

Imagine how you would feel if someone were to approach you, and thank you for some way you played a positive role in their life. Wouldn’t that make you feel good? You could have that same impact on someone else.

If you happen to show your appreciation in a public way, you may also inspire others, beyond those who you are directly thankful for. That someone may think about what they are thankful for, making themselves feel good. And then they may express it to someone else, increasing the amount of happiness in the world.

In America, as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, it may be helpful to go beyond simply asking what you are thankful for. In addition, think about how to express that gratitude, whether that is at the Thanksgiving table, in a private conversation, through an email, or some other method. How could you show your appreciation for others more?

Related questions: How can we appreciate life more? What are you grateful for? How do you show thanks? What does it mean to be thankful?