Dating Den Episode 224 – With Steve Leder: How to Be Brave, Live a Life of No Regrets, and Finally Find Love and Meaning in Your Life
Marni welcomes the inspirational author of several books, including his newest, How Our Greatest Fear Becomes Our Greatest Gift: The Beauty of What Remains, Rabbi Steve Leder. Rabbi Steve gets to the heart of what is truly valuable in life. He also dispels common myths we have about death and dying.
Key takeaways from this episode:
- Without death what incentive is there to live?
- Common questions from people about death
- How to break dysfunctional generational patterns
- COVID’s dirty little secret
The Beauty of What Remains [3:52]
Rabbi Steve shares examples of questions from his congregation with regards to life and death. His advice, he says, is always the same. In death as in life. There is a myth we carry that death changes everything, or that impending death can erase dysfunctional tendencies. He feels obligated to manage members’ expectations and let them know that people tend to die exactly the way they live.
He says dying doesn’t give anyone a new personality. Death changes everything and death changes nothing. If you have a tortured relationship with someone in life you are likely to feel relieved, not guilt when they die.
It is cognitive dissonance. It is irreconcilable. And making peace with the fact that something can not be reconciled, is in itself a reconciliation. It is a resolution. An additional step, is you can interrupt the intergenerational transmission of the dysfunction – it’s soothing to the soul by asking yourself ‘what is the legacy you want to leave?’.
Moments that Matter [19:30]
Rabbi Steve shares what he calls ‘the dirty little COVID secret’. It is that in some ways, COVID has made our lives better.
He uses his life as an example. His life was unsustainable. He, like many other people, fell prey to the belief that a busy life was a meaningful life. The changes that were brought on to thwart the pandemic forced people to spend more time at home and build better relationships.
The silver lining of the pandemic is that people don’t have to wear uncomfortable clothes or spend time with people they don’t care about at work.
Rabbi Steve says, there is always a blessing in the darkness. If you have to go through hell, don’t come out of it empty-handed.
About the losses Rabbi Steve says, we all have lost our sense of invulnerability. We now realize how vulnerable we are. We have lost freedom, opportunities, and worst of all, we have lost the fundamental human need to hold and be held by the people we love.
There is no reason to feel guilty that your life is more beautiful as a result of a painful experience.
Death is the Great Teacher of Life [28:28
In the end, no one wants your physical crap. People spend so much of their lives working hard to make money to buy things and collect things that at the end of our lives, nobody wants. Goodwill won’t even take half of your old stuff.
Believing that our outer material life is our inner life or is a spiritual life is like trying to eat a picture of food. It won’t nourish you. It’s a mistake we are encouraged to make all day every day.
Marni asks Rabbi Steve how people can realign with what is important. He responds, one simple way is to walk through the cemetery and read the headstones. Even though we are all unique and different, the inscription headstones are mostly the same. You have to strip away all the nonsense when you are inscribing someone’s headstone. Family is listed on the headstone, not your zip code, not your salary, and not your resume. What matters is the quality of relationships with a tiny handful of people who really matter.
Ask yourself, are you leading a meaningful life?
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