Lessons for Living: As Learnt from Randy Paush’s The Last Lecture

As a highly successful professor at the prime of his life and career, Dr. Randy Pausch hardly expected it when he heard that he would only have “three to six months of good health left”. At 47 years of age, Dr. Pausch was given a terminal diagnosis after battling pancreatic cancer for a year. With a wife and three very young children, this news was surely devastating.

The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams and a book of the same name later became his last gift to his family, students, and the world. In the lecture and book, Dr. Pausch shared many things ranging from his childhood dreams, life experiences, and the lessons he learnt. In particular, his upbeat and poignant insights about his life and imminent death struck a chord with many around the world.

Whether we are struggling with news of a terminal diagnosis in our lives or we simply want to learn how to live better, Dr. Pausch’s last words can be extremely relevant and helpful. Here are some things Dr. Pausch tells us.


Prepare Insurance (And Not Just Life Insurance!)

Dr. Pausch recalls a conversation with his local church minister where they were talking about how he might best prepare for his death. Although they first talk about his life insurance policy, the minister went on to tell him that he would also need emotional insurance.

Although the practical concerns are of course important, we also need to prepare to meet emotional needs. Instead of time, the premiums of emotional insurance are paid with time. Dr. Pausch himself made sure to make videotapes and wrote letters for his children and wife, so that he could leave them a record of his love.

For us, this is a timely reminder that meeting the emotional needs of our family and friends can be as important as meeting their practical needs. Fortunately, this is something we can all start to do now.


It’s Not About the End

In his book, Dr. Pausch says this, “Many cancer patients say their illness gives them a new and deeper appreciation for life. Some even say they are grateful for their disease. I have no such gratitude for my cancer, although I’m certainly grateful for having advance notice for my death.”

According to Dr. Pausch, this ‘advance notice’ gave him time to prepare his family for the future and allowed him to say goodbye. To him, this time was also better spent by being with his family and living life to the fullest rather than thinking about the end all the time.

For us, we should think about the end because preparation is so important. However, we must remember that it is not about the end but what we do till then. What are some things we can start doing now to live our best lives?

We often dread thinking about post-life affairs because they are so numerous and complicated, often leaving us overwhelmed and anxious. But it is because the elements that play into our life and death are so unpredictable that we should constantly be thinking about how we can live our best lives and the legacy we will leave behind. To this end, Timeliss aims to provide clarity and assistance in this process, so that you can plan ahead for your family or yourself in a way that will best honour the deceased’s memory.


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