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To Live a Life of Purpose, Ask Yourself "Why Does It Matter?"

Point to Ponder:

Before committing or saying "yes" to something, do you ask yourself "why does it matter?"

This Saturday morning while participating in the weekend laundry ritual: wash, fold, put away, repeat, I turned on the television in hope of being entertained during my monotonous chore. This is when I stumbled upon Barbara Bush's funeral. My intent was to only watch a minute or two, but one minute turned into over an hour of education, wisdom and inspiration.

When Barbara Bush was First Lady I was between the ages of 12 and 16. This was the pre-internet era, all T.V ended at midnight (remember the Star Spangled Banner followed by a fuzzy screen?!?), and 24/7 news cycles and social media weren’t even a thought. Unless I watched the morning or nightly news, which at times I did, knowing the in's and out's of the First Lady was certainly not something I was actively pursing. That being said, her funeral provided tremendous insight into an admirable, remarkable and honorable life of a wife, mother, grandmother, First Lady, public servant and woman.

For starters, she lived to be 92 years old and was married for 73 years! Anyone who lives nine decades and is married to the same person for seven of those decades has life wisdom worth noting. In her 73 years of marriage she moved over two dozen times--all including moves across the country as well as to other countries. As someone who has moved once for her husband’s job and wants nothing more than stability so I can plant roots and feel grounded, I find her ability to move for her husband to be entirely admirable and an absolute indicator of amazing love, commitment and even greater faith.

Next, she was the spicy and authentic mother of six children, one of which she lost at 3 yrs old to leukemia, 14 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. While Barbara was incredibly loving and nurturing, she was stern. She was a disciplinarian and had high standards for her family, but at no point did her family ever doubt her love for them. In the words of Jeb Bush, she was the families teacher, role model and enforcer. She engrained standards such as sit up, look people in the eye, say please and thank you, do your homework, quit whining and stop complaining, as well as values like be kind, always tell the truth, never disparage anyone, serve others, treat everyone as you would want to be treated, and love your God with all your heart and soul.

While every part of the funeral and commemoration was touching and meaningful, one of the shared memories I really appreciated was the intentionality by which she lived her life. She didn't just wish for a life of purpose, she was deliberate at living and modeling this kind of life. One such example was while being First Lady. When Staffers asked her to perform an interview, before consideration they had to answer the question, “why does it matter?” What she spent her time on had to matter to her and had to have a purpose. What I love so much about this wisdom is its stands the test of time and can be applied to our everyday life. My take away is before saying yes, committing, participating, sending an email, engaging in a heated discussion or even posting something on social media, a great question to answer is “why does it matter?” If it matters and serves a purpose that aligns with your values and is helpful, then do it and give it 100%, but if it doesn’t matter, doesn’t align, or isn’t helpful, don’t do it.

Finally, it was made clear that while Mrs. Bush was incredibly nurturing and took immense pride in being a supportive wife and mother, she was in no way, shape or form weak. She was the matriarch of the family and was a strong, funny, loving and faithful woman who in 1990 gave a famously humorous, empowering and wisdom-rich commencement speech at Wellesley College. To the all-woman graduating class she closed her speech by saying, “Who knows, somewhere out in this audience may even be someone who will one day follow in my footsteps and preside over the White House as the president’s spouse, and I wish HIM well.” How awesome was that! Loads of laughter and applause followed.

Barbara Bush left a legacy for her family, and for us she left 92 years of wisdom, including some of her best quotes and life guidance below. So, next time you are in the process of making a decision, wanting to feel purposeful, feeling the need to be a people pleaser, or feeling spread too thin and need to narrow down what you say “yes” to, don't make a wish and then blow on a DandeIion, I encourage you to take the advice of the spunky, late and former First Lady Barbara Bush, and get your answer by asking yourself this question: “Why does it matter?

1). Whether you are talking about education, career, or service, you are talking about life. And life must really have joy. It’s supposed to be fun.

2). Cherish your human connections: your relationships with friends and family.

3). Don’t take yourself too seriously

4). Humor is a joy that should be shared

5). Never lose sight of the fact that the most important yardstick of your success will be how you treat other people -- your family, friends, and coworkers, and even strangers you meet along the way.

6). Why be afraid of what people will say? Those who care about you will say, 'Good luck!' and those who care only about themselves will never say anything worth listening to anyway.

7). Don't cry over things that were or things that aren't. Enjoy what you have now to the fullest.

8). At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, or a parent.

9). When you come to a roadblock, take a detour.

10). I hate the fact that people think 'compromise' is a dirty word.

11). You don't just luck into things as much as you would like to think you do. You build step by step, whether it's friendships or opportunities.

12). Believe in something larger than yourself...get involved in the big ideas of your time.

13). Some people give time, some money, some their skills and connections, some literally give their life's blood. But everyone has something to give.

14). If human beings are perceived as potentials rather than problems, as possessing strengths instead of weaknesses, as unlimited rather that dull and unresponsive, then they thrive and grow to their capabilities.

15). You have two choices in life; you can either like what you do or dislike what you do. I have chosen to like what I do.

16). Giving frees us from the familiar territory of our own needs by opening our mind to the unexplained worlds occupied by the needs of others.

17). People who worry about their hair all the time, frankly, are boring.

18). Study hard, work hard, and play hard too.


Action Item:

When in the process of making a decision, wanting to feel purposeful, feeling the need to be a people pleaser, or feeling spread too thin and need to narrow down what you say “yes” to, take the advice of the spunky, late and former First Lady Barbara Bush, and get your answer by asking yourself the question: “Why does it matter?



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