Have you ever thought about your legacy? What do you want to leave behind? It can be scary to think about our mortality. But, it might help to focus instead on our legacies. When we figure out what we want to leave behind, we can live with more purpose today.

Teladoc Health Clinical Staff Psychologist Mirta Rice, PsyD, shares ways we can create our own legacies.

Q: Children and financial investments are ways to leave a legacy. What are some other ways that may be overlooked?

A: The legacy we leave is sometimes overlooked and not always thought about in a conscious way. However, who we are and how we interact with family, friends and the community can have a lasting impact.

We can leave a legacy by living in a way that contributes to a circle of positivity, peace, compassion and encouragement. In doing this, we are also modeling actions and behaviors that others can learn from and apply in their own lives as well.

We are often unaware of how much of an impact we can have on others and on our environment. We can also think about how we use our time, our energy, our talents and resources as gifts to ourselves and others.

Q: Fully understanding who we are may help us determine what kind of legacies we’d like to leave. How can we gain a better understanding of ourselves?

A: Understanding ourselves helps us determine our legacies by helping us define what is important or meaningful to us and to our lives. Having more awareness of what our values are and what our belief system is can help give us more insight.

Getting to know what we like, what we don’t like and what motivates us can also help us better understand ourselves.

Q: We can feel better about our own mortality by making the most out of life now. What are some ways we can live in the moment?

A: Practicing skills that can strengthen us is important so that we can enjoy what life has to offer and follow our passions. Living a healthy lifestyle by eating well, engaging in self-care and exercising can help us follow our passions. In addition, doing some physical activity can uplift our moods and strengthen our brains, nervous systems and our bodies to pursue those things that bring joy and happy feelings.

Make a list of ideas or activities that bring an internal smile. Also, use a supportive internal dialogue. This can help bring encouragement to do some of these things each day.

Q: Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” This is a great starting point for leaving a legacy. Can you offer any tips for personal growth? Any tips that may help us “be the change” we desire?

A: Wonderful statement! You can start by identifying some of the areas of change and personal growth you desire. Being thoughtful about the kind of legacy you desire to leave can also provide an important purpose to life and bring motivation. Write about these and read information on some of these topics.

Then, develop some personal, encouraging self-statements and apply them each day as a reminder to act on this change. Please be gentle with yourself. Keep in mind that change is gradual and can take time.

Q: From a mental health professional’s point of view, how can we keep a positive outlook as we get older?

A: It is important to stay healthy physically, emotionally and psychologically. Get regular checkups, exercise, eat well and apply self-care daily. Encourage and love yourself each day. Do things that are enjoyable and implement supportive self-talk.

Also, engaging in social activities is another vital element as we get older. Sometimes, we can become isolated, and this can affect many aspects of life, including mental health. Having a good social, supportive network is very helpful. If there is a lack of social interaction, then we can begin with small steps in creating a social connection over time.

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Published October 2, 2023

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