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The Value of What We Don't Pass Along
What is the legacy I’d like to leave my kids?
My most valuable legacy is what I didn’t pass along.
Choosing to break the chain.
What Is Living Well?
I’m going to take you on a 30-year journey. From 24 to 54.
As young adults, our values lie hidden.
We enter the world shaped by others.
We don’t give any thought to the source of our world view.
Go further, I didn’t give thought to the source of my thoughts.
If we’re fortunate then we have an early setback - a failure. The setback, hopefully, causes us to:
Consider How We Want To Act
In my case, the spark was the failure of my first marriage. I realized I was excelling at the wrong life.
I had no idea what was “right.”
All I had was a powerful feeling I was heading the wrong direction.
This is common.
It’s easier to see what we aren’t than what we are.
Creating Your Story
Forging an identity separate from our parents is the first step towards adulthood.
Many people never get there.
That’s their path.
Start by figuring out where you want to go.
What sort of person do I want to be?
Who would I like in my life?
After graduation, we stepped into the world with a framework.
That framework is the true legacy of our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.
We live under the powerful illusion that our thoughts are our own. In fact, our thoughts are a continuation.
A continuation of what?
At the start, a continuation of our parents. Specifically, where they happened to be when they raised us.
Let’s park that thought for a bit and consider you, today.
Start With Removal
Are you aware of your default setting?1
In my 20s, and 30s, I had no idea. The entire concept sailed over my head.
But I had wants, and desires.
And my habits were getting in the way.
The first action was removal.
I cleaned up my life by removing everything that wasn’t me.2
I left a city, that wasn’t me.
I paused a job, that wasn’t me.
My life got better.
Gradually, I figured out how I wanted to live.
I came across someone with a complementary set of values.
In marriage, we have an opportunity to go further.
Further than a set of individual wants and desires.
But there are challenges. Specifically, the legacy of:
Two sets of parents
Four sets of grandparents
Eight sets of great-grandparents
Even more => my family consists of many multiple marriages. Each experience having a downstream influence.
Two identities coming together. Pretty cool when you think about it.
Marriage is the opportunity to create a new script.
I shared our script with you earlier.
What I didn’t share => habits that didn’t fit.
Values are not about right or wrong. They are about how we want to live in the world.
Each generation decides their own values.
Will it be the default set from childhood?
Not for us.
We chose with intent.
We agreed what we didn’t want in our marriage:
Potlatching / Binging
All of the above start small.
Some of the above, are what makes family “fun” => for others, not us.
We made a choice to remove.
It’s an on-going process.
When I’m stressed out, my ancestors’ traits resurface.
Like all parents, we’ve given our kids issues. Hopefully, we’ve equipped them with a better set of problems.
When I write about breaking the chain…
There’s nothing I can do to change the past.
What I can do is learn from my experience.
I choose to live the life I wish for my children.
Every birth is the opportunity to create a new script.
Not just for the infant.
For the entire family system.3
It’s true that babies don’t come with an instruction manual.
What’s also true is the stress of a young family makes our default settings crystal clear (at least to our spouse).
Thinking back 25 years.
To a decision.
A choice to remove what was holding me back…
That small choice, changed my unborn family’s life.
A habit of positive change
Builds a successful marriage.
In serving the marriage, I serve my children.
What’s my legacy?
My legacy is the life my children watch me lead.
It is never to late to change.
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I was meticulous with everything I wrote, said and did. It worked. My life, and thoughts, followed.
Grandparenthood is an opportunity to apply the lessons of our lives. A good time to address regrets.