52 things I know about words (and you should too) #4 Words Elevate

I was reminded recently of how just a few simple words can elevate our thinking, our emotions, our intentions, and the quality of our daily living.

A woman I had never met -but who was known well by many members of my immediate social circle – died recently. I didn’t know her, but since so many of my friends did I have been party to conversations about her life, who she was for those around her, and her passing. Hearing my friends speak of her, I know she was certainly a remarkable woman. I wish I had known her.

You’re probably familiar with the popular practice of having a “bucket list.” A list of things you want to do before you die. Most of these lists, mine included, are made up of experiences and accomplishments – vacations, traveling, achieving goals and such.

Hers was different, and one of her closest friends shared it with me (with permission to share it with you):

Joanne left us a road map in the form of her bucket-list. Now, you’ll remember that her list was not your ordinary traditional bucket-list. It didn’t list places to go and things to do or see before you die. Rather, it is a list to live by:
1. Love Everyone
2. Acknowledge Everyone
3. Forgive Everyone
4. BEing Compassionate

As I said – surely a remarkable woman. I am moved each time I read this. I am humbled. I am also a bit embarrassed of my own bucket-list – rather narcissistic in comparison –  that includes mostly things like: sail around the word, go to Greece with my girlfriends, write a best-selling book, become a sought-after speaker and coach. Yes, there are some generous, altruistic and benevolent-sounding things on my list, but they are nowhere near the top  and (telling the unflattering truth) they only came to mind to include once I had pictured that all the other “fun stuff” was accomplished.

Do I want to do those things? Yes. Do I think it is wrong to have those kinds of goals for myself? No. And yet,  by Joanne’s words, I am humbled and inspired to push to the top of the list a few things more lofty and uplifting to the world and those around me. The words of woman I never met have elevated my thinking and my aspirations to reach farther and deeper than my own amusement.
My new, elevated bucket-list now includes at the top:

  1. Love everyone.
  2. Acknowledge everyone.
  3. Forgive everyone.
  4. Live with heart, humility and passion.
  5. Leave a legacy worth celebrating.

As I move quickly toward a milestone birthday (more on that later), I am so very grateful for the elevating gift of Joanne’s words.

What about you? What are some words that have elevated your life? What can you say today to elevate your world?

photo credit: phil h



Filed under 52 things

23 responses to “52 things I know about words (and you should too) #4 Words Elevate

  1. Since turning 60, the drive to have a list like Joanne’s has become more and more compelling. For me it would go something like this:
    –Say less, listen – really listen – much much more
    –Again, more silence – resist the drive to offer solutions (unless guided by inner promptings)
    –Live Love, Peace and Compassion – give no energy to divisiveness
    –Live gently & lightly on this beautiful Planet

  2. itsleisa

    Thanks, MJ – that’s beautiful.

  3. I remember a particular school counselor in junior high school who saw me in her office and told me I had “gold inside me.”

    Her words still resonate, nearly 30 years later.

    Recently, I had a chat with a fellow on the bus who’d been struggling with alchoholism for a long time. I told him, sincerely, “I believe in you,” and he wept.

    Just two human beings, trying to make our way.

    Thank you, Leisa, for this.

    • itsleisa

      Rupa – Wow – that just teared me up too. Thanks for sharing. I am really liking this conversation. Can’t wait to hear what others have to share.

  4. Thank you for sharing and for having Joanne continue to make the difference she has always made in the world. She has been on my mind a lot today and your timing for this post couldn’t be better.

  5. This.

    I have never been motivated by the idea of a bucket-list and all the stress on doing-wanting-accomplishing. but this? It’s inspirational. Must find my own.

    I wish I could suggest a posthumous 5th… “inspire strangers.” She’s certainly accomplished that.

  6. Leisa, thanks for sharing this (and thanks to the friend who allowed you to). I agree–it’s a very inspiring take on the “bucket list.” Joanne sounds like someone I would have really enjoyed knowing.

    One of the most elevating things I’ve ever heard was from a family member, who told me, “I know you know that I love you. But do you have any idea how much I like you, too?” That really touched me deeply, and I mentally return to it a lot. Because loving one’s family is…well, almost obligatory. But to be genuinely liked, too? As in, I’m someone they might choose to hang out with even if we weren’t related? That makes my heart glow warmly.

    • itsleisa

      Glad you liked it, Michelle. I am really learning a lot about how much of a difference a person can make, and that’s inspiring me daily.

  7. That was truly beautiful and inspirational.

  8. Hi Leisa,

    This is inspirational–I want to move in this direction. For now, though, I have a list that includes things like “Inhabit a Victorian tree house” and
    ‘Kip up like Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, you know, really enlightened things like that.

  9. That’s a remarkable story. You never know who will touch your life and how. We are all guilty of being somewhat self centered and the people who bring the most value to our lives are the ones that help us realize that its not all about us (for better or worse). I think the first three items on your revised list are even more poignant in todays fast paced “virtual world”. We all want to be acknowledged, but often forgot to acknowledge others. Thanks for sharing…

  10. I want you to know how moving it is for me to Joanne’s legacy out in the world and continuing to grow. I met Joanne on the very first day of my involvement with Landmark Education. She was an inspiring light that will never be extinguished in the world. One of the things I loved most about her was her constant threat to never shut up about how extraordinary we are. She saw the beauty and joy in each and every person and we were the better for it. My bucket list is now being fulfilled. Keep creating!!!!

    • itsleisa

      Shawn – that is so great. Thanks for letting me know. She is surely making a difference even in her absence, and continues to inspire friends and strangers alike.

  11. Wow! Powerfully written! Your words lift and challenge me.

    Best to you,


  12. Question #1: A friend elevated my world one day w/her comment, “Good job, Mom.” I wrote a post about it, it blessed me so much.

    Question #2: What can I say to elevate my world today? “I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!” and “I love you very much.”

    I added your blog to my reader. I will be stopping by often!

  13. Pingback: 50 weeks of 50 – A new beginning of being | Words are Little Gods

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