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What is a Good Life? #16
Finding Meaning in Life with Diane Button
On the 16th episode of the What is a Good Life? podcast I am joined by Diane Button, who is the author of the bestselling book, Dear Death: Finding Meaning in Life, Peace in Death, and Joy in an Ordinary Day.
She holds a Master's in Counselling Psychology, is a practicing end-of-life doula, and is a lead instructor at the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine’s EOL Doula Certificate Program.
In this episode Diane shares the 4 pillars of a meaningful life that she identified through interviewing people over the age of 75 who were fully content with how they lived (as per the clip below). We discuss what she has learned about relationships, forgiveness, self-acceptance, and self-reflection, through working with people at the end of their lives.
While the conversation further reinforces for me the importance of regularly contemplating life through the lens of death in building my own good life. As it is filled with heartfelt insights, wisdom, and practical tools for living a life of greater reflection, connection, less regret, and for finding meaning.
The weekly clip from the podcast (4 mins), my weekly reflection (2 mins), the full podcast (56 mins), and the weekly questions all follow below.
1. Weekly Clip from the Podcast
2. My weekly reflection
During the course of this podcast Diane references a few times how enriching she finds her conversations with people who are at the end of their life.
She notices that the following conditions are typically present with the people that seek her assistance: nobody is wearing a mask - there is an honesty to it, nobody is rushing anywhere - there is nowhere to go, there is absolute attention and consistent eye contact, people are often in a highly reflective state as they have much more behind them than they have in front of them and they are more engaged with their inner world as their outer world may be reduced to the room they are in.
How many of our conversations have the qualities of nobody wearing a mask, nobody is rushing or thinking of the next thing they have to do, both parties are being reflective on their own actions, both participants are giving each other absolute attention and eye contact, and we are genuinely sharing our inner worlds?
While we all may have busy schedules and responsibilities in life, that this may not always be possible, I’ve noticed something really interesting in my life when these conditions are met. We are so much more likely to share things that may be burdening us, while we also may not find it anywhere near as heavy as we thought it might be to do so - it is often freeing and enriching.
I’ve often noticed my own capacity to hear troubling or painful experiences from someone close to me, and I still leave the conversation feeling energised. A friend of mine even wrote to me last year to say that although we discussed heavy things, the conversation felt really light. There is something really enlivening about connecting with, and paying absolute attention to, someone sharing their inner world.
I believe we are doing our conversations and our relationships a real disservice with how we are showing up to our conversations, and that we can learn a lot from Diane’s reflections on her engagements with people at the end of their lives.
3. Full Episode - Finding Meaning in Life with Diane Button - What is a Good Life? Ep. #16
4. This week’s Questions
Is there someone you feel you are ready to forgive in your life or something you are ready to forgive yourself for?
In the podcast Diane talks about conducting reviews of each decade with people at the end of their life. Who were the greatest sources of support to you over the last decade? Do they know you think this?
I am a Coach based in Berlin, via Dublin, Ireland. I left behind a 15-year career in Capital Markets after I became extremely curious around what life, myself, and existence are all about.
I create corporate programs for companies to foster greater psychological safety, trust and purpose (click here for reference). While I also work with high-performing, individual clients who have hit their material goals and are trying to understand what comes after performance.