Your Desired Eulogy

We were driving in the car on Easter Sunday, and we heard talk show host Tom Rose reading from a speech given by David Brooks of the New York Times. This speech shook me to my very core! It has a great deal to do with one of the Four Pillars of Optimal Health, Lifestyle Changes. Although it will lead to a very unusual blog post, I need to share this speech with you, and then I am going to give you a “homework” assignment. Here it is:


“I’ve been thinking about the difference between the resume virtues and the eulogy virtues. The resume virtues are the ones you put on your resume, which are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that get mentioned in the eulogy, which are deeper: who are you, in your depth, what is the nature of your relationships, are you bold, loving, dependable, consistent? And most of us, including me, would say that the eulogy virtues are the more important of the virtues. But, at least in my case, are they the ones that I think about the most? And the answer is no.


“So I’ve been thinking about that problem, and a thinker who has helped me think about it is a guy named Joseph Soloveitchik, who was a rabbi who wrote a book called “The Lonely Man of Faith” in 1965. Soloveitchik said that there are two sides of our natures, which he called Adam I and Adam II. Adam I is the worldly, ambitious, external side of our nature. He wants to build and create (create companies, create innovations). Adam II is the humble side of our nature. Adam II wants not only to do good but to be good, to live in a way internally that honors God, creation and our possibilities. Adam I wants to conquer the world. Adam II wants to hear a calling and obey (that calling). Adam I asks how things work. Adam II asks why we’re here. Adam I’s motto is “success.” Adam II’s motto is “love, redemption, and return.”


“And Soloveitchik argues that these two sides of our nature are at war with each other. We live in perpetual self-confrontation between the external success and the internal value. And the tricky thing, I’d say, about these two sides of our nature is they work by different logics. The external logic is an economic logic: input leads to output, risk leads to reward. The internal side of our nature is a moral logic and often an inverse logic. You have to give to receive. You have to surrender to something outside yourself to gain strength within yourself. You have to conquer the desire to get what you want. In order to fulfill yourself, you have to forget yourself. In order to find yourself, you have to lose yourself.


“We happen to live in a society that favors Adam I, and often neglects Adam II. And the problem is, that turns you into a shrewd animal who treats life as a game, and you become a cold, calculating creature who slips into a sort of mediocrity where you realize there’s difference between your desired self and your actual self. You’re not earning the sort of eulogy your want and that you hope someone will give for you. Your don’t have the depth of conviction. You don’t have an emotional sonorousness. You don’t have commitment to tasks that would take more than a lifetime to commit.


“I was reminded of a common response through history of how you build a solid Adam II, how you build depth of character. Through history, people have gone back into their own pasts, sometimes to a precious time in their life, to their childhood, and often, the mind gravitates in the past to a moment of shame, some sin committed, some act of selfishness, and act of omission, of shallowness, the sin of anger, the sin of self-pity, trying to be a people pleaser, a lack of courage. Adam I is built by building on your strengths. Adam II is built by fighting your weaknesses. You go into yourself, you find the sin which you’ve committed over and again through your life, your signature sin out of which the others emerge, and you fight that sin and your wrestle with that sin, and out of that wrestling, that suffering, then a depth of character is constructed. And we’re often not taught to recognize the sin in ourselves, in that we’re not taught in this culture how to wrestle with it, how to confront it, and how to combat it. We live in a culture with an Adam I mentality where we’re inarticulate about Adam II.


“Finally, Reinhold Niebuhr summed up the confrontation, the fully lived Adam I and Adam II life, this way: ” Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by Hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we must be saved by Faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore, we must be saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as from our own standpoint. Therefore, we must be saved by that final form of love, which is forgiveness.”


What a beautiful speech! Now for the “homework” assignment. As part of the improvement in your Lifestyle Changes I’m asking you to take some quiet time and sit down and write what you would like to have said at your own funeral as a eulogy. Read it over and make any changes you think you would like. Then put it away. In two weeks or so, pull it back out and read it again—make changes that you like. Then—live your life like this!!! Earn that eulogy! I believe this will bolster you Four Pillars of Optimal Health in ways you cannot imagine until you do it.


Give us a call–we need to talk!


“I really don’t like looking back and saying I regret decisions I made in the past, because they were the right decisions for me with the knowledge I had at the time, but I would love for someone to build me a time machine so that I can go back and say “no” to having chemotherapy and surgery….I have absolutely no doubt that healing would occur much easier and faster if I wasn’t dealing with the collateral damage caused by those harsh conventional treatments.”

          Jessica Ainscough at describing                        how she healed from cancer.


Please pass this blog along to your friends, family, and co-workers. We work with people by utilizing the modern technique known as “telemedicine,” and we would love to help you. You do not have to come to Delaware! We also can help you as a “Medical Advocate.” What this means is that, if you have questions about health matters, including the interpretation of laboratory testing, you can contact us and we will discuss what your test results mean and help you get good answers to your questions. It seems that today everyone, including doctors, is in a rush and you end up getting the short end of the stick. We can help with that problem. Just give us a call at 410-326-6690. Also, check out our Web Site at for more info.


One response to “Your Desired Eulogy

  1. Thank you Dr. Tom for writing a very powerful and meaningful message. Wow! I am sharing this with my children and friends. We all struggle with Adam I and Adam II. I am thankful for my faith which has kept me humble through many of lifes challenges, much like the Adam II.
    I will let you know of my progress on my homework!
    Warmest thanks, and blessings, Christina M.

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