Legacy Mindset: What are You Giving?
As I continue to read Fearless Giving, I find myself asking myself “What are you giving?” It’s a simple enough question, yet I am finding that it changes things. In fact, it changes everything. In each moment, shifting my jumping off point from acquisition to legacy puts a whole different blush on the situation.
Thinking in terms of legacy infuses the moment with purpose.
This seems weird to me considering how years I have loved the quote, “Only what you have not given can be lacking in any situation.” Yet somehow, I only ever thought of it as a way of owning my part in things. I had never taken the idea that one step further to legacy. I mean, let’s face it, “Legacy” is a big word; a daunting word. When I say I want to “Teach Only Love” what I am really talking about is legacy. How will others think of me (if they think of me at all) once I am no longer here?
It is much easier to ask myself what I am giving. But as I begin this habit of thinking in terms of giving rather than getting, thinking in terms of my legacy, everything shifts. It shifts even the small, simple things.
I am not the world’s greatest meditator. I am fantastic at prayer. I even hold high watch well, which is strange considering that high watch is a form of meditation. But sitting on my zafu, trying to enter a deep meditative state has never been my strong suit. Frankly, that little cushion makes my ass sore, even if it does help me to straighten my spine.
Yet this morning, as I meditated, I found myself posing the question, “What are you giving?” The shift from thinking about what am I getting out of the practice (less stress, feeling centered, communing with God) to what am I giving changed how I felt about it. Rather than entertaining active resistance (again, historically, I’m not a great meditator), what if I sat with a greater purpose in mind? Rather than coming from an ego stance, what if I approached it with the purpose helping the world be more peaceful? What if my mediation helped change the world, even if it was just a tiny bit? As I thought about it I realize that even a “selfish” purpose could be improved by shifting from “getting” to “giving;” from “I am mediating to feel less stressful” to “I am mediating so that I can give the world more peace.”
When I thought about it in terms of legacy, everything changed. What kind of person do I want to be known as?
Suddenly, picking up after myself was easier.
Suddenly, being kinder was easier.
Suddenly my motivation for the work I needed to do shifted into something that made the doing easier, lighter, more joyous. I wasn’t sending out letters to folks in pre-foreclosure so I could get more business, I was doing it so that I could give some peace to people in a stressful situation.
It felt better. It felt more like who I wanted to be.
I’m not saying that one small shift in perspective changed me completely and that ego no longer has any hold on me, but what I am noticing is that ego’s grip is less of a chokehold.
What do I want my legacy to be?
In speaking with my son the other night, I noticed that I had inadvertently created a legacy of victimhood. I had spent so many years being poor and struggling that I had taught him learned helplessness. Now, that wasn’t/isn’t my only legacy. I had taught him kindness. I had taught generosity, but there is a legacy that is passed down in the way we approach the world. I’m sorry to say that my ex probably taught him that you deal with stress by drinking.
Ego, of course, wants to rush in and massacre me for the shitty job I did. It wants to berate me and tell me what a louse mom I was. Yet there is only now. Had I known had to be someone better than I was in that moment, I would have. No one purposely leaves a legacy of doom and gloom for their kids. As Crosby Stills used to sing, “Teach Your Children Well.”
So, as I practice the new habit of thinking from giving rather than getting, I remind myself that even the legacy that I think I have created up until now is not really there. (Today’s ACIM lesson: I am upset because I see something that is not there.) I remind myself that the only practice that matters is this moment. It is where the power is. It is the only place where change is possible.
I remind myself to “Teach my children well.” I teach love. I teach giving.
Namaste, my friends, Namaste.