The dead want us to live deliberately

December 1, 2014

think deeply adviceI had a super-long day of travel recently and used it to read Mike Dooley’s new book, The Top Ten Things Dead People Want to Tell You.  It was funny, it was profound and it was moving.

One of the most powerful messages in the book was the idea that any interaction between two people is a co-creation.  Why it happens or how it happened is not important.

What IS important is that we seize the gifts, the lessons from what happened and use them to deliberately craft our life going forward.

Whoa!  To live deliberately? Consciously?

I know it seems a simple concept, but how many of us actually do this?

Something happens in a relationship. Or someone dies. Or we lose a job. We get sick.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to get bogged down in the “how did this happen?”  “Why did it have to happen?”  or “Why me?”

Not useful.

Wallowing in that stuff is like stepping into quicksand. It’s hard to get out of it and sooner or later, it’ll kill us.

past is overChallenges in are there for our education.   We’re meant to find the lesson–and it IS a gift, really–and use it to make conscious decisions about how we go forward.


Have you gotten a hold of how much of our life is lived in a knee-jerk, unconscious manner? The things we do, we say, or we think we believe are not usually conscious choices. We don’t stop and think about our actions as much as we could. As much as we are meant to.

I’m not suggesting we go into analysis paralysis. Or that we sit back for years thinking about the lesson as an excuse for not moving forward.

But stopping long enough to examine our long-held assumptions, to test them, is a good idea. And the next step is to use what we learn to consciously craft what comes next for us.

Let’s take someone who’s seriously ill.

It’s easy to spin out on the “what if?” or what we think is the worst-case scenario.

But maybe, just maybe, the illness is meant to teach us to live one day at a time. To treasure the moment, to cherish each day. To improve the quality of our lives and not worry about the quantity.  Wouldn’t that be a huge step forward?

When a marriage goes bad, there’s always a lesson. Oh, we can muck around in the mire of self-pity–I’ve done that before.  Or we can consider that marriage an educational lab meant to teach us new relationship skills that we can put to use in the future.

Most of us get that we should be consciously crafting our lives, at least at an intellectual level, but practically speaking? We do tend toward the knee-jerk response. Or inertia. At least I do.

So for me, that particular message from the dead was a good reminder to act out of conscious choice. In all things.

prettiest flowers



43 comments on “The dead want us to live deliberately
  1. It’s so easy to fall into that trap of self-pity when things go wrong, but I love your positive attitude about life experiences. If we could only see the larger picture, we’d understand that ALL things happen for a reason.

  2. Love this and now have a book to pick up. You know, I suffered through a life threatening illness and promised never to take anything for granted. That promise maybe lasted a year. Why is it so easy to fall back into complaining old habits? Ugh. Thank you for this reminder.

  3. I think I need to read that book.
    I understand it all but have struggled this year with
    chronically trying to catch up and constantly
    reminding myself its okay to be where I am.

  4. I live in a constant state of “I should be doing this or that.” It’s very distracting and I work hard to not let myself feel guilty about ridiculous things. This is a good reminder.

  5. Carolann says:

    Looks like a good read for sure. We all get into that mode of self-pity. The important factor is to feel it, and let is pass. When it doesn’t, that’s where the problem begins. great post and reminder for us all!

  6. Jackie says:

    I think we are all guilty of the knee-jerk reaction. I do it, most often, when I say things “off the cuff” that I realize, maybe, weren’t so nice. I hate when I do stuff like that. I feel like I do it less often than I used to, that I’ve learned to think before I speak. Still, once in a while, something comes flying out. Sometimes there are real consequences, other times it’s just the picture of me that I leave someone with — one that I’m not so happy about — that is the consequence. Either way, it’s terrible.

    I think, on some level, that I began to write so that I could live more consciously. Does that make sense? I don’t know. It kind of does to me. Well, at least that’s what I tell myself.

  7. Donna says:

    Couldn’t agree more…..I have had so many experiences with the dearly departed…some moving, some educational, some actually funny. All have been there to edify, nothing unsettling, in fact every person I know who has had experiences with those that have passed express the exact same thing. I guess I take this for granted, but yes they want us to live deliberately, they want us to understand our worth, because they can see it so much more clearly. I have a relationship with my step mothers mother. I never met her while she was alive, but she is my “person”. And she is mending relationships, comforting and even funny. All of this is normal to me, probably way too out there for others. Have a wonderful trip, and remember how much I appreciate you…your counsel is so important to me!!

  8. Thank you for the book rec. What a subject. It’s so hard!! For me and my big mouth, living consciously often involves speaking consciously. My sister started “Mouthwatchers”. It’s a joke, but also a way for me to wait, to stop, to think.

  9. Diane says:

    Love this! I’m a real believer in the ‘everything happens for a purpose’ school of thought. Life is to give us experience. When my mom was so ill for so long, didn’t know anyone or anything, I couldn’t see a reason for it. But my sister told me that it was for us to learn something. That mom had already learned. And now she was giving us the chance to do the same. It was a mind-blowing moment. Everything happens for a reason.

  10. Lisa Froman says:

    I loved this! It’s so true….and I work hard at conscious living. And then I get really frustrated when I check in and realize I’m not being congruent. I guess it’s called being human. And then I try again.

    I like Mike Dooly’s “Notes from The Universe.” They make me happy….

  11. Janie Emaus says:

    I used to “what if” everything and try to change the past by repeating if over and over in my mind. Crazy behavior, I know. But I’ve moved on. I might have to buy this book.

  12. All sound advice. I still wish I was as certain as you are!

  13. I have a late uncle who had 2 years from diagnosis of cancer to death, and he did a lot of “soul work” to improve his relationships with family, including his diseased parents. He talked a lot about doing what’s necessary to have peaceable relationships with people and how to diffuse conflict and forgive people their misdeeds born out of personal pain. Thanks for turning my attention again to the desires of the diseased. I think it’s important to link the generations together (even those who have passed on). Thanks for pointing out Dooley’s book.

  14. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    I like the notion of discovering a life lesson when bad things happen. Finding an explanation or some kind of closure helps us move forward.

  15. It’s funny I have this book on my nightstand to read after I finish the other two I have started. I can’t wait to read it for myself. I’ve heard it’s really good. I think that I am just learning this lesson in life. As you now know I was very, very sick for awhile but I have learned so many things from it that I’m actually not sorry that it happened. I think I needed to learn these lessons when I did if that makes any sense. I think that I was floundering and confused about alot of things and being sick taught me what is important. My family first, foremost and always.

  16. This sounds like a great book. I’m such an “it is what it is” person that I rarely look back and say “what if?” because it just seems like like a waste of time. I do try to learn from my mistakes and just keep moving forward.

  17. I love Mike Dooley and get his emails delivered to me, and I’ve listened to him speak when I take walks. Very inspirational and very funny. I find myself laughing out loud.

    He’s always right. How is that possible?

    I try to learn from every experience, but “what if’s” creep up all the time. I try to practice conscious living because it’s so much better to live that way.

  18. Myke Todd says:

    I go through periods where I question everything, other times I tread lightly, stepping over, or better yet, around.

  19. Ines Roe says:

    The book sounds really intriguing and definitely a must read. I really love your reflections about the co-construction of relationships and the idea of living deliberately. I think so much of live is a knee jerk reaction that we don’t often take the time to reflect on the lessons we need to learn.

  20. Ruth Curran says:

    Living consciously is a such an ongoing thing. Sometimes it is really tough to stop that knee jerk reaction you spoke about – especially when the situation is emotionally charged. The “what ifs” are so much easier for me to control than those “did I really just say that out loud” moments….Working on it!

  21. Dooley is always interesting to read; I used to get his messages from the Universe!
    As for living intentionally–always a challenge but something I’m working on!

  22. Love this post. Actually I feel as if our posts today could be distant cousins. I am, if anything, an over processor…. The book sounds fascinating.

  23. Oh, I love getting Notes from the Universe each morning. This sounds like a great book, and I’m thankful for your take on it. Such a good message (like the Notes).

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