I am turning 44 today and have been thinking about legacies. For those that have children, the “legacy box” is easy to check. Is my greatest legacy the love and belly rubs I have bestowed on my Calico Mini?

The reality is that your legacy is how you treat every person (or living thing!) in every encounter during the course of your life. People do not want to feel alone, everyone wants to be loved and to feel like they matter/have purpose. The more you can make someone feel important, the greater your legacy and service to humanity. There is a CONNECTION between your actions and the energy you put into the universe.

Your daily interactions and contributions will determine how people perceive you today and after death. We must be the best citizens in the HERE and NOW, while knowing our acts impact the future.

If you are wondering about YOUR legacy, I highly recommend collecting data by reaching out to your closest friends and ask their perception of you. This exercise produced some much needed feedback for me like: “You are a rock star and I have respect for you! You are a loyal, dedicated, fun friend who always takes the high road and sees the good in others.” My phenomenal mother (who I consider one of my best friends) reminded me that I have raised funds for charities, taken baked ziti to the homeless in DC and am consistently picking up litter.

Love your mother!

Loved by friends and family, check. Appreciated by the downtrodden on the streets of Washington, check. Trying to save the earth one piece of trash at a time, check.

Surrounding yourself with people and scenarios that bring you joy is part of the first step to how you will be remembered. When you are happy, it is a catalyst to spreading that enthusiasm and love to the world.

“One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make someone else happy; One of the best ways to make someone else happy is to be happy yourself.” -Gretchen Rubin

What I know for certain is that being perceived in a positive light starts with self-awareness and manifests through your connection to all. The path to connection is one of peace and stillness. Quiet the chatter in your mind.

Next, LISTEN. In listening to others you are hearing AND seeing them. People need to be validated, to be REALLY HEARD and to know that they matter. This is what my friends did for me and I am so grateful!

The more you are AWARE in EVERY encounter, the more you validate others by acknowledging them, thus letting them know that they are important. The baseline for Legacy is Listening, Validating, and Connecting.

I think the whole world is dying to hear someone say ‘I love you.’ If I can leave the legacy of love and passion in the world, I have done my job.” –Lionel Richie

Other legacy ideas:

Giving to Charity_Do it for the right reason, not because it sounds good in Country Club conversation. Think about what’s lying beneath your action. It’s not a about how much money you give to the cause.

Share Stories_Create a lasting impact by teaching and sharing life experiences.

Be Kind_Smile at people on the street. Have a positive attitude and be nice to the guy behind the counter.

We have no idea what our legacies will be. We do know that everyone wants to be seen and heard. The more we can truly listen to someone, the better off the world will be. How you treat yourself is critical because once you are fulfilled, you can spread that love. Perhaps the question is not what will your legacy be when you are dead but what is your legacy today? Are you compassionate in every encounter? Are you empathetic to those around you?

Love your family. Love your friends. Love your enemy. This is not a dress rehearsal, every day is a legacy. Be honest. BE KIND to all creatures, especially your Calicos!