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.