Lessons from a Life Review

The “life review” is one of the coolest concepts I’ve encountered in all my spirituality reading to date. So cool, in fact, that I’m dedicating a post to sharing bits of it with you. It has changed my thinking about life in a beautiful way, and it might just change yours as well.

Before I begin, I will preface it by saying that the concept is based on the idea that when our human body dies we each have an eternal soul that will live on, being re-born and re-born inside different bodies in different times so that it can continue to evolve. Over these lives we will be put into new and challenging situations that stretch us and teach us to become even more loving, selfless souls.

The expression, “She’s an old soul” is actually referring to the idea of someone having reincarnated more times than the average gal around her, able to apply all that she has learned and experienced in past lives to this current one. She may appear to be wise and deep beyond her years, unaffected by common stresses and emotionally stable, uninterested in superficiality, and just seems to have much greater insight into the world around her.

You may not actually buy into all of this yourself, and that’s OK. Keep reading. There are some valuable fundamental lessons from life reviews for all humans to consider, regardless of your beliefs. I promise.

Approximately 8 million people around the world have reported having near-death experiences (NDEs), which is a profound psychological event (typically overwhelmingly positive) that may occur to a person close to death or who is not near death but in a situation of emotional or physical crisis. Generally, the experience involves perceptions of seeing one's body from above, movement through space, of light and darkness, presences of spiritual beings, intense emotion, and a conviction of having a new understanding of the nature of the universe.

Most of those who have had a NDE have returned sharing the same insight: after we die we go through a “life review,” which is a seeing and re-experiencing of all major and trivial events of our life (often also from the perspective of others involved). The purpose of the life review is education and evaluating our soul development and progress in completing our soul’s mission. It allows us to understand why we are the way we are, what our motives were behind our actions, how our decisions impacted those around us, what we can do to correct the aspects of ourselves that are not compatible with life on the “other side,” and how we could have acted differently. Seeing all of this helps us to become a better person in future lives. 

Here’s what people have To say…

  • It’s like viewing a 3D movie of your entire life, where every detail, of every second, every emotion, every thought, is experienced simultaneously. Sounds crazy cool, doesn’t it?!
  • Scenes can be paused or slowed down in order to focus on a particular detail or event.
  • You can instantly become everyone you came into contact with in your entire life by thinking their thoughts, feeling their feelings, living their experiences, and learning their motives behind their actions.
  • You have a strong sense of responsibility and sometimes self-judgement. But it’s not a fault-finding process, but rather a fact-finding process for learning.
  • You are asked questions such as, “How much love did you show others?” and "What did you do with the precious gift of life?"
  • You are actually applauded when scenes of love and generosity are displayed.
  • You are shown how you measured up to the mission of your life. 

Important Lessons...

  • Life on earth is one massive “test” for which our deeds will be graded (by us!).
  • The most valuable deeds are those which express love in true unconditional, pure form.
  • The important deeds are small acts of kindness towards others, not those done with huge fanfare trying to get attention.
  • There are no wrong deeds, but rather deeds which either do or do not enhance spiritual growth.
  • Deeds carry repercussions which affect many lives and LIFETIMES - A simple smile has the power to start a chain reaction of love that can spread throughout the entire planet and alter the future.
  • We are such powerful spirit beings that even our “little” deeds can have a powerful affect on others even though we are completely unaware of it.
  • All our deeds have an effect on the evolution of our soul.
  • The choices we make, big and small, matter deeply. 
  • We think we are living behind a curtain of secrecy where we can do things without anyone knowing it. But we’re actually “on display” for the "other side." Therefore, there are no secrets here - when we die, it's like a floodlight shines on us.
  • We receive what we give.
  • All negative experiences are necessary and intentional for greater understanding about ourselves os we can make better choices.
  • Loving ourselves and others unconditionally is the most important thing we do - it's the only thing that matters. 
  • Some of the opportunities we’re given are orchestrated by higher powers.


  • A man saw himself as a child killing a mother bird with a sling shot. At the time, he was so proud, but during his life review he felt the pain that the mother bird's babies went through when they starved to death.
  • A woman saw herself giving special attention to a boy left out at a summer camp so that he would feel loved. During the review, she said this act of kindness was more important from her viewpoint of expanded awareness than if she had been the Queen of England or president of the United States.

So What? 

What learning about all of this has done for me is alleviate the pressure I’ve always felt on some level to be out publicly changing the world on a huge scale (although I must admit it would be pretty cool to personally find a way to solve world hunger or stop global warming). Instead, I now understand that the small acts of love and generosity that I can perform each and every one of my very normal days are perhaps just as important and are also capable of making some major impact, even if that impact isn’t quite so visible. Now I truly see every moment as containing magical potential for life-changing interactions to take place, and countless opportunities that invite me to show up and be an even more loving version of myself. The seemingly insignificant moments suddenly have become monumental.

Whether you believe in the spiritual component of all of this, afterlives or not, the message still applies:

Go out there everyday and choose to be a good, loving, human being.

That's what this all boils down to. It's really so simple.  

Be generous. Think about others. Don’t say mean things. Take the extra minute to go out of your way to help. Open doors. Smile at strangers. Ask someone crying if you can do anything for them. Donate your time to worthy causes. Go visit a friend in the hospital when she has no family around. Hold your Mom’s hand. Wish the homeless man a good day. Be loving. Be so damn loving.

These acts might actually be considered the most important things you’ll do in your whole life.

What I also find most amazing about all of these things is that they are FREE! For some reason so many of us think that we need to wait until we’re rich and famous and have earned our PhDs before we can make a difference and before our time is actually worthwhile. Well, learning about the life review has totally dispelled that belief for me. We are are actually so perfectly born already possessing everything that we need to touch people’s lives deeply and evolve on a soul level. We were born with the capacity to love, and as cliche as it sounds, from all of this I’ve learned that that is the most valuable possession of all.

I find it so fascinating that as a society we are consumed with achieving degrees and promotions and buying vacation homes and fancy cars, and yet the only thing that the "other side" is going to care about is how nice of a person we were on the way to getting those things. Did we still remember to call our Grandmother on her birthday when we were preparing for that big interview? Did we go volunteer in a soup kitchen in order to connect lovingly with the community once we became rich? 

What kind of “grade” do you want to receive during your life review?

What small things can you do today to start moving in this direction if you currently aren’t totally on course?

Will the images you see be ones of generosity and compassion, or selflessness and judgement?

You have control over this. Start now.

You have greater power to dramatically influence people than you realized.

How are you going to use that power?


“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” - Aesop

*If you’re curious about reading longer descriptions of real people’s life reviews there are tons available online, such as at Near-Death Experiences and the Afterlife. Check them out! 

"Will you be totally devastated by the crap you've brought into other people's lives? Or will you be equally enlightened and uplifted by the love and joy that you have shared in other people's lives? Well, guess what? It pretty much averages itself out. You will be responsible for yourself, judging and reliving what you have done to everything and everybody in very far-reaching ways. Very small, seemingly inconsequential things such as the day when I, nine years old, walked through Seneca Park and loved the appearance of a tree. In my life review I could experience a bit of what the tree experienced in my loving it, two little photons of love and adoration. It was somewhat like the leaves acknowledging my presence. Can a tree experience that? Yes, it can. Don't go kicking trees anymore! You do have that effect on plants. You do have an effect on animals. You do have an effect on the universe. And in your life review you'll be the universe and experience yourself in what you call your lifetime and how it affects the universe. In your life review you'll be yourself absolutely, in every aspect of time, in every event, in the over-all scheme of things in your lifetime. Your life. The little bugs on your eyelids that some of you don't even know exist. That's an interrelationship, you with yourself and these little entities that are living and surviving on your eyelids. When you waved a loving goodbye to a good friend the other day, did you affect the clouds up above? Did you actually affect them? Does a butterfly's wings in China affect the weather here? You better believe it does? You can learn all of that in a life review! As this takes place, you have total knowledge. You have the ability to be a psychologist, a psychiatrist, a psychoanalyst, and much more. You are your own spiritual teacher, maybe for the first and only time in your life. You are simultaneously the student and the teacher in a relationship." - Thomas Sawyer