2016 marked the passage of many great celebrities. Instead of grieving the loss of life and potential, think how these global figures may have influenced you. Choose an example you would like to keep alive and promote in your daily interactions. Here are three of my favorite teachers who will forever bring strength, laughter and authenticity to my spirit.
At a young age, Ali adopted a fearless attitude. Living outside of the status quo, he built an incredible life story full of trials, courage and success. His spiritual practices included social activism and fundraising for charities around the world.
Heroine of the classic movie series Star Wars, Fisher created a colorful life as an actress, writer, humorist and mental health advocate. She bravely and openly shared her personal struggles with addiction and bipolar disorder. Fisher spoke boldly about living with mental illness. She used her celebrity status to address cultural stigmas around mental illness and encourage people to get outside help.
On screen Wilder played the iconic role of Willy Wonka. He inspired audiences to join him in the place of imagination where “You’ll be free if you truly wish to be.” Wilder used his incredible imagination and humor on and off stage as a comedian, actor, director, writer, advocate and philanthropist. Gilda’s Club, a non-profit Wilder started in honor of his late wife, offers emotional and social support for those touched by cancer. He felt that Gilda’s Club helps people believe that love will triumph over setbacks.
Who could deny the gifts of music, passion and style expressed by this talented artist? Prince led a regal life led by creativity and social causes to benefit humanity. I was moved by Prince’s knack for bringing people together. Van Jones, a friend of the artist, shares this story about the hidden agenda behind Prince’s pop-up concerts - to get opposing parties to talk: "A lot of times, he would do these tricky things, where powerful people come [around] because they assume they're going to meet him. Then they get stuck in a room for an hour with their once worst enemy, yet wind up being friends. They had never met Prince in their lives. He would do stuff like that to people all the time."