Did he live with passion?

The Greeks, when someone died, asked one question: Did he live with passion? This week just passed, I attended the funeral of a close friend of more than 30 years who suicided last week under the influence of the most severe, treatment-resistant depression I have ever come across. This was part of a larger, complicated condition of Bipolar Disorder.

More so than other funerals, this one reminded me of the how much confronting death is about confronting living life to the fullest, living with passion. It prompts me to write about something that a number of my patients have asked me to expand on recently i.e. a values-based way of life.

Under the influence of pop psychology, married to a world focussed on material need, people often settle into to a goal-focussed way of life. In turn this leads to a highly problematic imbalance in people???s lives, that typically mean less time for health, partners, family and friends. Pursuing goals like ???financial security???, owning your home, or ???being successful???, create the backdrop for the imbalance.

Success to me is this: living by your values and having the wherewithal to pursue your meaning and purpose in life.

A values-based approach is mutually exclusive with an imbalanced way of life. When you live your day and your week around the value, for example, of ensuring you spend time with partners, children or other loved ones, imbalance cannot co-exist. If imbalance does persist, by definition, you are not living a values-based way of life and either you do not really value your purported values, or you need to revisit them and make adjustments accordingly.

My very young-at-heart, old friend did live life fully, in between his bouts of depression. He lived to love and to laugh, spending much time with his children, his beloved wife and friends. He loved his work and using his formidable intellect to solve complex business challenges which he approached with great integrity. This was his legacy as he inspired those around him to live a values-based life.

When his mental illness deprived him of all these things he loved ??? the expression of his values, the exercise of his intellect ??? it was too great a loss for him to bear. His devoted wife, his loving children, his brother, his parents and his many friends, remember a husband, a father, a brother, a son, and a friend who, indeed, lived with passion.

3 thoughts on “Did he live with passion?

  1. Janelle

    George, I often wonder why we need an event such as this to remind us of what is important. Although I didn’t know this man, it has again bought home to me that I owe it to myself and the people I care about to live a life of purpose and values. Thank you

  2. Leandra Ford

    My sincere condolences on your loss, George. Although I did not know your friend, I can relate to the tragedy and injustice of a life cut short. Thank you for taking the time, in the midst of your pain, to remind others of the things that are truly important and give meaning to our lives.

  3. Claire Smith

    Dear Dr George, How is it that we got a man on the moon back in the 60s but we still cant help people overcome this devastating condition? What does that say about the values of our society….

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