Who Will Cry When You Die?
By Robin Sharma
Through the wisdom of his 101 life lessons, Robin Sharma provides both food for thought and practical advice designed to help the reader be the best version of themselves it’s possible to be, and live the life they truly want to lead. In learning to live a meaningful life, and live it to the full, it’s possible to gain a deep sense of peace, passion, and purpose, and it’s the author’s intention to demonstrate just how easy it is for all of us to achieve this. We can shine in life and leave behind a rich legacy when we die, and the message is that when you live life as your best self, you become someone other people will surely shed a tear for when you die, but those tears will be of joy at having known you, rather than sadness.
My Top 3 Takes from the Summary
Treasure your time, focus on your life goals, remember to have fun, and celebrate life as it happens.
If you work out what’s essential and important to you, then your life will become more meaningful as a consequence.
Life is better when you take risks and live fully.
The author writes: Ask yourself who will cry when you die. If you feel that few people will miss you, it may be time to make some changes. The best version of you is one that will surely be missed by others.
In one wisdom-packed chapter, the author offers the life lesson: Rather than complaining, focus actively on what you can bring to the world.
He writes: We all love it when we can gripe about something, but sometimes it can go too far. You know the type of person – someone who is always sighing, complaining that he or she doesn’t have enough time to work out or learn a new language or skill. But such complaining has little to do with the real world. It’s just the result of a negative mindset.
If that’s you, then you’ll be pleased to know that just by being a bit more proactive, you can get out of the rut. So if you feel you’re often short of an hour in your day, then just get up that much earlier in the morning. The same principle applies if you feel that the economy’s against you or that the environment’s polluted.
Griping about pollution will get you nowhere, but proactive recycling and carbon footprint reduction will make some difference. And if you feel that the economy’s stopping your career development in your company, then start polishing your CV or getting your portfolio ready to be sent out. If, say, you’re a designer, sit down and create a couple of new posters or object designs. Those first steps are critical. Once you see that change is possible, you’ll realize that complaining is just wasted energy.
Another element to being successful is recognizing your own value to the world. So when you choose your vocation, think hard about what you can contribute to others’ lives. Knowing your worth will push you to get the well-paid and gratifying job you deserve. After all, you’ll know your efforts will truly be adding something to the world.
Surgeons are the classic example here. A surgeon isn’t intrinsically better or cleverer than any other professional. But surgeons have spent countless hours working on highly specialized skills. Their expertise allows them to make contributions that are significant and life-altering. That explains why surgeons are seen as so valuable by society.
It’s never too late to begin. You, too, can work on acquiring rare skills that are needed in your community. Start reading, studying and preparing yourself to think originally. Others are sure to cry when you die if you’ve lived your life as the best possible version of yourself. This version isn’t something abstract; it will emerge quite naturally if you treasure your time, focus on your life goals, remember to have fun and celebrate life as it happens.
Remember how to enjoy life by imitating children and by taking good care of your body, is another bite-sized but powerful chapter offering the reader some practical advice:
There’s a certain wonder in childhood that’s easily forgotten as we grow up. Just consider how kids eat bread. Many of them go straight for the center, picking out the soft bit with their hands before throwing the crust to one side. As a parent, you might find that sort of behavior more than a little annoying.
But there’s actually much to be said for children’s unapologetic liking for what gives them the most joy. As adults, we should imitate children in order to relearn to love life. Think of all the energy that goes to waste doing things we hate – whether it’s paying bills, organizing cupboards, updating resumes, filling out tax forms, or just worrying. These things just drain the fun out of life. Needless to say, some of those things have to be done, but that doesn’t mean you should invest any more than the absolute minimum of attention in them.
A good strategy for shifting your focus away from the drudgery of these day-to-day tasks is to remind yourself of what you actually like to do. And if you’re struggling to remember what it is you enjoy, take a little inspiration from children. Reconnect with your inner child. Eating ice-cream, rollerblading, dressing up, or playing with your pet are all activities you can enjoy no matter your age.
There’s another important aspect to be mindful of when it comes to enjoying your life: you have to take good care of your body. In ancient Rome, people were well aware that a healthy mind was only really possible if the body was healthy too. That still holds true today, especially if you want to enjoy life.
Most critically, of course, if your body’s healthy, you’re much more likely to live longer. One Harvard University study shows just that. It looked at the lives of 18,000 of their graduates, paying particular attention to how exercise featured in their lives. The study concluded that for each hour of exercise people undertook, they added, on average, three hours to their life span. You too should therefore use exercise to take care of your body. It needn’t be extreme, either. Even just a regular routine on a treadmill will take you a long way!
A meaningful life entails focusing on what’s essential is just one of the many thought-provoking chapters. The author writes:
Life can be a bit much sometimes, it’s true. If you find days go speeding by and it feels like you don’t even have a moment to breathe, that’s a sign that something needs to change. Specifically, you need to get your priorities in order. Otherwise, you’ll find other people’s demands and requests will swallow you up.
Above all, if you work out what’s essential and important to you, then your life will become more meaningful as a consequence. There’s an old Chinese tale that really gets that idea across. The story goes that there once was a sword-maker who was so talented that he was charged with forging swords for the rulers of China. One of these kings was so impressed by his weapons that he went to the sword-maker and asked him what the secret to his success was.
Much to the king’s surprise, the answer wasn’t that the sword-maker had mastered a secret and mystical skill. No, the sword-maker simply replied that he had dedicated his life to his work. Every waking hour for the previous 20 years had been spent perfecting his art. The moral holds true today.
Just think of the world-renowned basketball player Michael Jordan. He didn’t personally secure his own contracts, pick out his suits, or work out the nitty-gritty of his travel arrangements. He had personal assistants and lawyers to take care of all of that. His own job was kept simple. His energy and time were to be spent training and playing basketball.
With that said, if you follow a path of extreme focus, you’ll find that it does get a little tiring. Even the most consummate professional won’t find meaning in life through constant work alone. Meaning also comes from other areas of life. Deep friendships and relationships will help, as will giving yourself time to relax. So while focusing on meaningful life goals will take you a long way, be sure to give yourself time off regularly so you can enjoy life’s other meaningful aspects. Your family will certainly thank you for it!
There’s a side benefit to taking occasional time out: your stress levels will be reduced. You’ll therefore find yourself happier and healthier. That’s sure to bring a lot of joy. But free time doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. Be sure to include regular time off in your weekly schedule. There’s a term for this: sabbaticals. Originally, these were religious holidays devoted to contemplation and prayer. But the same principle still applies: you need time to step back from life and relax.
Practically, all this means you should aim to make your sabbaticals about two to three hours in length, and you should distribute them throughout the week.
And a life lesson we can all benefit from is given the title: For a happier life, be honest with other people and learn how to deal positively with failure.
Many people make all kinds of promises with the full knowledge that they’ll never have to act on them. We’ve all promised to lend people books at dinner parties, for instance, and then not done the slightest thing to follow up.
Breaking promises, however, is a bad habit to get into. It simply doesn’t lead to a happy life. That’s because every time you don’t deliver what you promise, others will be disappointed. The only impression you’ll leave is that you’re unreliable. Instead, you should try to adopt an approach that makes honesty central to your life.
Keep tabs on it. Jot down how often you tell little fibs just to avoid confrontation or to make yourself liked. The next stage is to dedicate yourself to being completely honest for a whole week. The simple aim is to be true to your word, whether with yourself or others. At the most basic level, this means if you make a commitment you have to stick to it, even if no one else knows about it. You’ll be surprised at just how happy it will make you to keep your promises, especially if you’re unaccustomed to it!
There’s another basic rule that's really useful in making happiness part of your life; learn to cope with failure and difficulties. That’s not as negative as it sounds; actually, difficult experiences teach you the best lessons.
Just look at people who’ve endured serious illnesses. In the author’s experience, it’s they who turn out to be happiest and healthiest later in life. That’s because they learned how to care for themselves in the most difficult circumstances, and so have a deeper understanding of life. There’s a related trick: put simply, life is better when you take risks and live fully. You may often fail, but that’s much better than living out a life of boring mediocrity.
Say that you once dreamed of being a surgeon, but were scared of failing the exams. Or maybe you were worried you couldn’t face the job pressure. If that’s the case, you may have missed out on your dream career due to fear.
However, if you’d tried, maybe you’d have actually managed to become a surgeon. And so what if you’d ended up failing a few times along the way? “Failures” such as those are actually rich experiences that can be put to good use later in life – often in finding your alternative career path!
Each of the chapters is a valuable life lesson that everyone can gain from, no matter what your age or circumstances. Using his own experiences, the author provides simple solutions to everyday life problems, and in the process, he encourages everyone to become the best they can be, one small, positive step at a time.
Written in a style that’s easy to read, the life lessons are presented in a way that makes this book one that can be dipped in and out of, and the chapters read in any order. Life is change, and the author shares his inspirational wisdom in a way that encourages the reader to make changes for the better in life – throughout their entire life. As he says, it’s never too late.
Bio of the Author
Robin Sharma is ‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’, a Canadian writer, keynote speaker, and founder of Sharma Leadership International.
Who Will Cry When You Die by Robin Sharma, 2013, ISBN: 978-8-179-92232-3 is available to buy at Amazon