The Edge Pieces: Part Three

If you have been following along, this week we have been asking ourselves the question “What will my loved ones say about me at my funeral?”

Wow! says the new reader who happened upon this article by accident. Aren’t I glad I walked in at the middle of this conversation!

The main idea is that we want people to say and what they will say depends very much on the choices we make about how intentionally we live our lives. By identifying the character traits that we hope to be remembered for, it helps form a kind of picture that will serve as a guide for our everyday decisions and interactions. Each decision, each interaction is like a little tiny puzzle piece that makes up our lives.

I have been using this puzzle metaphor liberally, and argued that the edge pieces of the puzzle, the structure of the puzzle, is made up of the virtues that we want the people around us to find exemplified in our lives. For two days now, I have been listing and defining some virtues, in the hopes that some speak to you and will help you start imagining what the overall puzzle, your Ideal Life, is going to look like.

Here are the last virtues in the series of three, each with their pseudo-philosophical definitions. Taken together with the first two lists, this is a non-exhaustive list of virtues. You may have some we didn’t think of, and you make take issue with some that we did. That’s okay.

  1. Obedience: doing what is expected by those who hold authority over us.
  2. Observation: the capacity to watch or monitor in order to gain information and perspective.
  3. Orderliness: the desire and ability to keep things or information in a methodical manner.
  4. Patience: forbearance with delays without getting anxious; the ability to tolerate unforeseen problems with grace.
  5. Patriotism: a healthy love of one’s country, culture, history or group of origin.
  6. Peace: the ability to remain composed and undisturbed in any circumstance.
  7. Perseverance: as with Endurance, which is the physical stamina to achieve a goal, Perseverance is the virtue of maintaining mental stamina and motivation.
  8. Resourcefulness: the capacity to make something out of nothing–using what is on hand to provide for a need.
  9. Respect: taking into account the humanity of others: their needs, limitations, desires; also, the humility to express admiration for the capacities of others.
  10. Responsibility: taking the position of accountability for a person or a situation. Also, a character trait in which our actions are motivated by a sense of duty.
  11. Self-Control: in subtle opposition to the virtue Discipline, Self-Control is the ability to keep ourselves from doing things that we shouldn’t do, whereas Discipline is the capacity to kick ourselves in the butt and do the things that need to get done in service to an objective.
  12. Self-Esteem: a healthy love of self, informed by Lucidity, which creates a solid foundation on which to build relationships.
  13. Stewardship: careful, thoughtful use and maintenance of what we own or that for which we have Responsibility.
  14. Teachability: an attitude of willingness to learn, a disposition of humility and willingness towards correction.
  15. Teamwork: like Cooperation, the ability to work with others towards a common goal, but includes an element of enthusiasm and group cohesion.
  16. Tolerance: similar to Acceptance, but oriented more towards people or things than circumstances.
  17. Trust: a state of the heart, a decision, or an act of the will which makes it possible to believe that our hope is well-placed.
  18. Uniqueness: taken with cluster of Individuality, Self-Esteem and Lucidity, Uniqueness helps us recognize how those things that make us different can be a benefit to our circumstances.
  19. Uprightness: like Integrity, this virtue is a decision to hold to what we believe to be right or true, regardless of whether it is popular or well-regarded.
  20. Wisdom: maturity of thought and behavior, founded in experience and knowledge. The virtue of Wisdom is like 3D glasses for all the other virtues–without it, the other virtues are simply independent, albeit respectable, aspects of our personality.
  21. Zeal: like Enthusiasm, it is an often inexplicable internal motivation, with the subtlety that Zeal is almost always accompanied with bold action.
  22. Humor: the capacity to liven the spirits of others, a lightness of heart and attitude which sets others at ease. Also, the ability to not take ourselves too seriously.
  23. Humility: a mindset of Respect towards all people, which actively seeks the interests and welfare of others first.


I hope these last three days of intensive edge-piece organizing has been a worthwhile, thought-provoking adventure for you. Tomorrow, we are going to debrief some ideas to help bringing those virtues to life. For now, imagine that you are attending your own funeral. (Oooh. That sounds fun?) Someone gets up to speak, and says: Gillian McGillicuddy was…(fill in the blank) Do it even if your name isn’t Gillian McGillicuddy (although it would be very very cool if your name was.)

Name three virtues that spoke to you, with which maybe you even already feel a bit connected already, and in which you are willing to make an investment.

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

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