When I speak to audiences throughout the U.S. I often bring out the number: 788,400. After a slight pause I remind them that this is the number of hours they will live if they died on their 90th birthday. This is my way of making a practical exercise out life–recognizing that hour, by hour, day by day, week by week, and year by year we enter, execute, and exit our “Moments of Performance” in every “Meaningful Life Arena.”
So every year I have a ritual, and that is to take my family to “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. I have found that pre-New Year, this is the ultimate “gut check” story.
After year’s of focusing only on himself and his acquired wealth, Scrooge gets the ultimate opportunity: to re-process his past, see clear the present, and be warned about the future.
Jacob Marley is the ultimate coach–the embodiment of self-agrandizement–giving witness to the long-term forging of self. His is the endless afterlife of misery and woe.
With such clear, deep, and profound self-awareness, Scrooge is given the ultimate gift and uses his agency to forge a new path with the life he has left.
As we all approach this Christmas, and before 2014 is upon us, I encourage you to pick up this book or attend the play. Reflect upon all of your chains for 2013 and see if you are forging chains of selfishness and negativity or becoming more of the person you always wanted to become.
Thank you Charles Dickens, for writing the ultimate redemption story and reminding me–every year–what it means to build a meaningful and happy life.