This is obvious if we just look at our own parents and how the way they lived affected us. In the best case, we received lessons from them or other mentors that have empowered us. On the other hand, we may have decided to depart dramatically from the way they conducted their lives. If so, then their mistakes and shortcomings were catalysts for us to change old familial patterns. Either way, their way of being determined the course of our future. Similarly, our actions determine the course of the future for others, and those who follow us will remember us as part of their history.
In light of this, it is good to ask ourselves what our legacy will be. We have all heard stories about family members we may or may not have known; sometimes it is their humor that shines through in others’ memories, or their contagious positive energy, or their skill in managing the family assets. People outside our immediate family may have changed the course of our lives as well-a teacher who encouraged and inspired us; a neighbor who helped us in a time of need; or even a stranger who came to our aid in a difficult situation. When we remember these people, we realize that however small our daily lives seem, they are actually very important. How we treat people in each moment, with each interaction, can have a major impact.
It helps to begin our days with an acknowledgement of this fact, taking a moment to consider how we want to be in the world and how powerful we really are. We must remember that our lives are not meaningless–quite the opposite. Every day we have an opportunity to "make history" and influence the future for the better.