Most days I take the local paper out of my letterbox, glance at the headline then throw it in the recycling bin. One day the headline, ‘The girl that everyone loved’ grabbed my attention so I took the paper inside to read. The story was about a 22 year old girl who died after being struck by a car while crossing the road. It wasn’t a story about a drunk driver, a hit and run or, even about blame. It was simply a sad and beautiful story about a lovely young woman who had spent her short life making a difference to the people who crossed her path.
Another young girl that I read about was Rachel Beckwith who started giving at a very young age. When Rachel was just five years old she learnt about an organisation called, Locks of Love, which provided wigs to children who had lost their hair following cancer treatment. Rachel asked her mother if she could have her hair cut off so that it could be donated to this charity. At eight years old Rachel started raising money for an organisation that built wells in Africa called Charity: Water. And when her ninth birthday came around she asked her friends and family to give to this charity rather than buy her presents.
Five weeks later Rachel’s was with her family when their car was hit by a truck in a 13 car pile up. The only one injured was Rachel and she died soon after. Rachel’s parents donated her hair to Locks of Love and her organs to other children but Rachel’s legacy didn’t end there. As her story spread around the world people started donating to Charity Water and since her passing Rachel’s web site has raised in excess of a million dollars for this cause.
Both of these girls lived meaningful lives and left behind a legacy. They weren’t famous, they didn’t break any records or achieve any outstanding goals, yet their lives left an imprint upon the people who loved them, as well as many who never even met them, simply because of who they were in their daily lives.
Here are some suggestions for leaving a legacy.
Support the people you care about
Legacy is more about the people whose lives we affect, rather than the work we do.
Friendships sustain us and enrich our lives. So, if you aren’t sure ask the people you care about the most how they would like to be supported by you. Sometimes we think we know, but our assumptions may not always be accurate.
Knowing you have a friend that will support you in good times and bad, and knowing you will always be supported adds so much to the quality of our lives.
Reflect on what’s most important to you
It’s so easy to get caught up in attaining goals such as making money, owning a home, maintaining a standard of living or travel, that it’s easy to forget what’s most important.
Do you make time for fun? For important relationships? To do what makes your heart sing?
When you make time for what’s most important to you the rest of your life flows automatically.
I have always believed that the Universe cannot give you what you will not give yourself.
It’s so easy at times to focus on what’s missing from our lives rather than what is good. By establishing the habit of being appreciative and grateful we remind ourselves of all that’s good in our lives.
Help where you can
So often people say, ‘Let me know if I can help you’. They mean well but how often have you approached someone for help who has said this? I know I don’t.
To me helping is not about offering, it’s about doing. Do something spontaneously for someone you feel may need cheering up. There are many ways we can help. You can give money anonymously to someone in need. Lend a helping hand. Cook a meal. Listen when someone needs to talk. Mind someone’s children. Drop in for a chat, or invite someone to have coffee.
It’s often not the big things we do, but the simple ways we live our lives that becomes our legacy.