If Your Legacy Was Based Only On Today…

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Over the last few weeks, I’ve begun to build a morning meditation practice. And, I’ve noticed that certain questions tend to bubble up in fleeting moments during stillness (which, at this point, are about 20 seconds out of 20 minutes, lol).

The question that was floating around this morning was…

If your legacy was based only on today, what would you do?

I began to think about how I’d answer it, then got curious about how others might. So, I posted it on Facebook and, within minutes, answers began rolling in. Here are some…


This made me think even more about what my answer would be. I’m working on that now (and I’ll share it later in the comments).

But, for now, I’d love to know your thoughts and answers in the comments.

Share away…


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43 responses

43 responses to “If Your Legacy Was Based Only On Today…”

  1. Emmanuelle says:

    Exactly what I’ve done so far, with more yoga and hugging my sick-with-flu boyfriend. But the day is not over yet…

  2. Angie says:

    I would engage as people as possible in a conversation about FULLY living a life in the areas that rattles their soul, and only in those areas, with tender moments with my children mixed in. I would then know that my legacy would change the world.

  3. Maia Duerr says:

    Twenty seconds out of 20 minutes is actually a pretty good ratio! : )

    And this is a great question. So often I get caught up in long term goals and planning that I miss the moment and the day right here in front of me. I love the way you’ve framed this question.

    If my legacy were based only on today…I would emanate joy and friendliness, to everyone I meet. Everyone. From the grumpiest clerk in the store to my beloved.

    Thanks for asking…

  4. What an amazing question and one tht should be asked of ourselves periodically to keep us in check: I am one of the fortunate ones that am living my legacy because I’m truly doing it – makegirlfriends.com. I connect women nationwide to actually meet.share.inspire one another and my bigger dream is to eventually build transitional homes nationwide for abused women and their children – my dream is on my website – Nancy’s Dream….so thank you for this wonderful post and validating my feelings of my legacy…
    In gratitude,
    Nancy

  5. Jen Gresham says:

    I really like the idea of creating a morning meditation routine. I’m going to have to adopt that, I think.

    I had the opportunity to reflect on this question as my plane violently pitched through some particularly nasty clouds recently. I closed my eyes, pictured my family, and felt intensely proud of how I had lived my life. Is it a legacy? With my family and friends, I have no doubt it is.

    Thankfully, I got a few more days, and had someone tell me at a conference that i had changed his life. So it’s good to know too that sometimes our legacy can be invisible to us. I hope to have a lot more occasions like that.

  6. Ryan says:

    I would donate the rest of the day helping a startup, it might be the winner that realizes the legacy ;).

  7. Love. Just love.

    On Christmas Day my dad was rushed to the ICU after vomiting up over 1/3rd of the blood in his body and passing out due to severe internal hemorrhaging. The doctors said had the EMTs (who were amazing) arrived just 15-20 minutes later he’d have been dead.

    It is amazing the clarity of thought that comes during moments like this. As a triple type A person I used to think I wanted my “legacy” to be helping working women gain confidence and control over their finances. I now realize while that work is my calling it’s not my legacy. When you hit those critical life or death turning points – what really matters, what you really leave behind, your true legacy… is how you love your family, friends, and every you interact with every day.

    • Vicki says:

      Very well said. My 49 yr old sister in law just passed away last night after a short go round with brain cancer. Her two teenaged children did not have a conversation with her about dying, and my heart is just raw for them today. Love your family and friends and let them know it, as that is all that matters in the end!!

  8. To not let my fears stop me from doing what I want to be happy.

  9. Really beautiful question, Jonathan. Each morning, I gently ask myself, “What question am I living in today?” (It’s a question I also pose to others every morning on FB and Twitter). A snowfall of them came for me this morning.

    In response to your question, I’d have to base it on just this day as I’ve lived it so far up to noon: Keep tending to what we do not know in each moment and find the possibility in that space.

    Thanks for sharing your meditation.

  10. rakoontz says:

    Take my little dog for a walk. Meditate. Have breakfast. Scrape new snow off of the sidewalk. Sit in the recliner for a bit, so Mutley can have a lap visit. Practice Tai Chi Chuan. Check email & news. Take Mutley for another walk. Wash dishes. Make sure that the onion seedlings that just began to sprout three days ago are getting enough water and light. Have lunch. Sit in the recliner for another lap visit. Do some reading. Do some writing. Bring in some firewood. Lay a fire in the fireplace insert. Take Mutley for another walk. Do some Qi Gong stretching. Meditate some more. Take one of Mutley’s squeaky toys and taunt him into a game of tug and chase. Have dinner.
    Basically living my life step by step, enjoying my retirement by challenging myself to do each small thing as mindfully as I can manage, with the full knowledge that my “legacy” means no more than any other single item on this list.

  11. Contrarian says:

    It’s reported the Albert Einstein on his death bed was asked about the meaning of life. His response, “Why, it must be to serve, for what else could it be?”

    Anther good way to look at this is to ask: What do I want written on my epitaph? If the people whom I love and admire the most where to eulogize me, what would I want them to say? If we work with the “end in mind” and think about how we want to be remembered …this crystallizes and clarifies the “legacy encapsulated in a single day” question …at least for me.

    Jonathan … I got a good laugh at your challenge with mediation. You’re getting about 18 seconds more stillness out of each 20 minutes than I ever have 🙂

  12. I would give blood. And listen to people. And put my things away. And hold my partner.

  13. And now I’m crying. Thanks a lot, Jonathan!

  14. Bring joy into the lives of others, and in turn bring joy into my own life.

    It’s really that simple, I think. Thanks for the question!

  15. Tolle says:

    Hug and kiss my wife and daughter – and tell them, again, how much I love them and want for them to be happy.

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  17. I am living today as the last day of my life…I am patient, present, and purposeful.

  18. If your legacy was based on only today, what would you do?

    Wow. What a deep question. It’s the kinda question that most people will avoid answering because they don’t know what the true gift that they uniquely offer to the world is.

    It seems to me that anyone who’s made an incredible impression on the their little plot of the universe has lived expressing their gift. You look at people like Gandhi, Martin Luther King, or even Amelia Earhart and you see people living life balls to the wall.

    It allowed them to “give” to the world rather than “take”. And what it also brings is guaranteed higher level of drama than someone who doesn’t offer their gift. All three of those people I named above we’re met with extreme opposition, as were the countless other extraordinary beings who stepped up to live a life where their butt hung out freely in the wind for all the naysayers to smack.

    All of them lived in constant drama but their love of sharing their unique gift in a way that expanded joy and happiness in the world, pushed them forward anyways.

    None of them in my estimation sought a legacy but as a by-product of settling for nothing less than maximizing their gift, it just naturally happened.

    It took me all of that writing to come to the conclusion that if there was one legacy I’d love to leave behind is that I was Love. I’d be me, without the negativity. I’d bring loving energy to all of my interactions and activities with my unique gift.

    Thank you Jonathan for helping me live in this positive head space for at least 25 minutes today while writing this! I look forward to seeing what you would do.

  19. I would take humble steps toward great vision. Breathe deeply. Savour, and stretch farther. Love wholeheartedly.

  20. I’d love my body, both strengths and liabilities. Im doing pretty awesome at everything else!

  21. Daniel Sroka says:

    If my legacy was based only on today? Honestly, I wouldn’t waste my time worrying about something as silly as a legacy.

    I’d just spend my day doing what I’m already doing, making art, playing with my kids, petting my dog.

  22. Matthew says:

    Today I’ve gotten some work done on a project that I believe in, done some things just to make my wife smile, and spent time with my wife. Seeing and acting on the opportunity to help a stranger was just the icing on the cake.

  23. Uwe Alschner says:

    Great question, simple answer: it is! Yesterday is past, and tomorrow can never be reached. So it must be today. Go on, live! That’s what I say to myself. Go on, have many museumday moments. Moments which, if catalogued, you’d want to see displayed in the Museum of your own life. So, my question is: what would you do, if after-life consists of you being the tourguide of that museum? A museum which shows your life exactly as you have lived it! I got this fascinating idea from my friend John P. Strelecky.

  24. Creating enjoyment at every turn, oh yes.

    Thank you, Jonathan!

  25. The bitch about legacies is we won’t be around to enjoy ’em, so who cares? If you’re doing what you can do RIGHT NOW to live fully then there’s nothing else.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Mmmm, dude, you know I love you and all, But I’ve gotta disagree.

      I don’t look at my legacy as being about how I benefit, either before or after I’m gone. I don’t need legends or accolades to enjoy my time here.

      I look at it as an opportunity to create an experience in the lives of people I care deeply about that extends beyond my ability to create similar ones in life.

      It’s about them, not me. That’s why I care.

  26. moira says:

    my interpretation of a legacy is something that is built over years, slowly, organically, one act after another, one relationship at a time, over a lifetime, however much time we are gifted. one day is not enough to base an entire legacy on, but today is the only base from which to grow our legacy. thank you for posing the question.

  27. Sue says:

    I agree with Moira: A legacy is built slowly over time. The question is a great way, though, to get people thinking about how they would start building their legacy starting today.

    I’d like to be remembered as someone who encouraged and supported others to ask questions, think independently and make a positive difference in the world, dealt with others from a place of compassion and empathy and remembered how to laugh and have fun along the way.

  28. Hi Jonathan

    Clearly I need to do more meditation – this is powerful stuff. Taking your question in it’s complete literal meaning – that I just had today to leave the legacy…..

    I would actually use my beloved social networks to reach the maximum amount of people I know and love around the world.

    I’d create a video with a clear message of my vision and mission, I’d thank all the people in my life – family, friends, loved one, those who have influenced me in many ways and show them my gratitude.

    I’d then hope this would be spread far and wide for even more people to discover and share.

    (This shouldn’t sound like it’s about me, but using the power of social networks and connections to propel this legacy forward in one beautiful day).

    Jonathan I’d be keen to hear what your answer is or is that being saved for the next blog post?

    Sending smiles and energy your way today

    Natalie

  29. BE TOTALLY PRESENT in my actions and interactions, look strangers in the eye and smile, extend kindness and love where I can, tell my family and friends how much I love them and remind everyone that life is beautiful!

  30. Dan Perez says:

    Still working on mine as well…

  31. caitlyn says:

    I would throw a party. A potluck.

    A potluck party is the metaphor of what I hope will be my legacy: love for and with my people, everyone contributing to the good time, to the health of the whole, me creating the opportunity for it. Music, food, love, conversation, all ages, warmth from the crackling fire or watching the night stars on the deck (depending on season) equaling the ability to bring natural beauty to others.

    At my parties I generally gather everyone in my big kitchen and make a speech. It might be introductions and tell us your favourite birthday memory, or a Thanksgiving “round”, or a plea to pop some cash in the jar for the food program where I teach, or a heart-felt I love you and thank you.

  32. Lynn says:

    I am the keeper of family photo archives and journal/writing projects. These are a material part of my legacy to my family, and since I am up to date on the “I love you” and intimate caring parts of my legacy and it is too late to undertake something monumental for the outer world, I would spend some time today making sure that those for whom I act as material custodian know how and where to find what I value in my files and computer!

  33. Christopher says:

    Listen to everyone as if they were the last words I’d ever heard spoken.

  34. […] week Jonathan Fields asked a question on his blog, “if your legacy was based on only today, what would you do?”  That is a […]

  35. Simply put: I would live in & be “joy” – and share it wherever I go.

  36. Spend time with my kid. Bake bread/a pie/scones, or something. Take the phone off the hook. Paint my favourite colours on a fresh, white canvas. Stare out of the window, gazing at clouds for at least half an hour.

    This is a great exercise to do. I think I’ve just defined my core values in the doing of this. Thanks.

  37. Legacy. Today. Hmmm. Pretty lively exchange back there, a lot of views about how we should live today, appreciate tomorrow, all that stuff. For me, given this day to build a legacy is a good thing. Because what if we will wake up tomorrow? It’s kinda unfair to ourselves to live like there’s no tomorrow. While it really IS GREAT to live the moment, seize the day, enjoy the present… what if we do wake up tomorrow? (And I hope I would!)

    Point is, no one really is not certain about the future. But to live right, live healthy, live with purpose and live with meaning – and then wake up tomorrow … now THAT would be really a cool blessing. But to waste energies, resources and health, and wake up to a new day … how’d one deal with that situation?

    With this, my legacy would be to live happily and with meaning today, express myself and share love as well, would be it. So that if I did wake up, a smile’s plastered on my face. And if I didn’t, I’d be smiling still… with the angels, that is… knowing I’ve done and lived good.

  38. Paula G says:

    Be kind, be present, love well, and invest my time in doing things that make me come alive.

    That’s what its all about

  39. Nadya says:

    The question that arrises next is: whatever your answer to the question, are you already doing it? If no, why?