Nothing is constant. Our days are numbered. And nothing evokes these feelings like death. I recently heard the sad news that an old friend of mine from high school had passed away. Sure, when hearing of someone so young dying, most assume an accident [and unfortunately, its likely drug or alcohol related]. But not this time. This time, it was cancer. Cancer diagnosed in his late 20’s. Cancer that was caught too late to treat effectively.
Being in the health field, the first thing that pops into my mind after the wave of shock and grief is, “what caused it”? I’m often obsessive over being healthy; choosing foods high in antioxidants to prevent disease…just like this. But I’ll tell ya what, there’s no way in heck his diet or lifestyle had anything to do with it. He was too young to have his lifestyle be a major factor. That’s the scary part.
We all cling to what we feel will keep us on this earth the longest, whether that be healthy food choices, making a lot of money, exercising, meditating or creating a legacy. I’m here to tell you, it may not matter in the end.
I’m certainly not advocating to be unhealthy and live frivolously, but just remember: our days are numbered. And there is nothing we can do about when we will be called home.Even before the moment we were conceived, our story was written.
Our manufactured and expiration dates were set. So what does that mean for the life we are living now? It means something different for each one of us, but for me, it means that I need to make the most out of this life during the time I am here. From what I understand, Paul was an incredible source of inspiration because he was positive and happy through it all until the end. What an incredible man…as I often fight to keep positive when my toddler won’t listen. Our days are numbered – how will you choose to make the most out of your life?
It’s inspiring to know that even in death, there is life. One measly example of this being that he inspired me to write this. Paul’s life story and positivity was the reason why I was moved to reflect on my own life. I hope that through reading this post, you are too inspired to make your own life happier. And if that is so the case, Paul’s heavy-hearted story can in turn help others. We are all connected in this great world; we are not alone. So thank you Paul, RIP.
6 Steps to Make the Most out of Life
1. Realize You’re Not in Control
Many people go crazy at the thought that they aren’t in control of their future. We take drastic measures to ensure that our bank accounts are growing, that we have insurance on anything and everything possible, and our homes and vehicles are the safest they can be. We must remember though, that we aren’t in control. There are just too many variables in life. People let us down, drive recklessly nearby and commit terrible acts against one another. Sometimes you, or someone you love, may just, “be in the wrong place at the wrong time”.
This bleak fact of life is here for a purpose. We must have faith. Faith that there’s more to life than the day to day. Faith that God has a grander plan for you and others around you…that no one yet understands. Even though bad things happen, you can look back one day to see positives emerge from that negative situation if you open your eyes to it.
2. Don’t Stress
Anxiety is a health condition in itself. Chronic stress can cause personal physical and psychological damage; it is liked with worsening heart disease, chronic respiratory disorders, and gastrointestinal conditions. (1) Stress is also a major contributor of marriage and family problems. Do you know what stresses you out the most? For some it’s money. Others it’s health. It’s important to know what your triggers are so you can work on managing the negative energies before you become anxious and stressed out. Remembering #1, the fact that you’re not in ultimate control, will help conquer this feat.
3. Appreciate Your Family
It’s so easy to take people that we love for granted. Often times, we may feel as if it’s okay to treat them poorly because, “we’ve had a bad day”. After working all day, no one wants to “fake it” at home. We want to be real and give into the negative attitude that we may have been holding back.
Be sure to check out The Attitude Antidote: A Whole Life Overhaul 21-Day Devotional. “It touched me personally and was such a good review of the Scripture you chose at a time in my life when I needed to revisit this topic (attitude).” -Bonnie Smith, Ground Truth Press.
This is the reason why we chose to treat family worse than co-workers, friends or strangers. We trust they’ll be there. But that’s not fair. Handing your family the leftovers of your good mood and attention will not cultivate anything favorable. Your family deserves the best of you, not the worst! Ha! Much easier said than done. If you find yourself giving less than what your family deserves, some soul searching is the best way I’ve found to get back on track.
Trick Your Brain to Re-Appreciate
The method I use is a bit morbid, but it’s the quickest and most effective way to re-appreciate what I’ve got. Do this exercise in a private place while you’re alone and have time to let go. (Ideas: after a workout in the car, before you fall asleep, or in the morning before everyone wakes up.)
Once you’re alone and relaxed, imagine what life would be like if your spouse (or fill in the blank) didn’t come home that day. How would you feel? Truly play out the scenario in your mind. Allow yourself to feel the emotion from the hypothetical loss.
If you’ve ever lost someone you dearly loved, those feelings and memories may come rushing back. Don’t fight it. Think of the days that would pass without them by your side, in bed at night, at the dinner table… or ever. Allow your heart to ache. Realize this feeling could become a reality. I warned you this was a bit morbid. :/ But let me tell you, it’s effective. When you’re done with this exercise, I guarantee the first thing you’ll want to do is feel them in your arms and tell them you love them.
4. Focus on the Good
Once you’ve re-appreciated your family, it’s a bit easier to focus on the good. We get bogged down in daily struggles and irritating tasks. It’s so easy to make the focus of life on the irritants we experience. There is danger in this. Why?
We become what we repeatedly do.
If most of the thoughts you dwell on are negative, you will no doubt become a negative person. Negativity is infectious and not a pleasure to be around. You probably won’t even like yourself! Instead, dwell on the positives. Catch yourself in the act when you begin to gripe to yourself. Then think of something you’re thankful for. Focus your attention on that good thing while you’re dealing with the bad and physically smile. Or better yet, laugh. When your irritating situation passes, it’ll be much easier to forget it and move on in a good mood.
Tip: If you notice your spouse getting upset, drop everything and go help! Tell them you love them and physically touch them in some way. Your support will mean the world to them, as this is when they need it the most.
Imparting kindness is what makes this world go round. Loving God and loving people are the two most important things we can do. Says who? Jesus himself said it in Mark 12:29-31. Here 10 easy examples of how to incorporate kindness into your daily routine:
- Don’t be rude.
- Bite your tongue – say a kind word instead.
- Offer a compliment.
- Hug, daily.
- Make love to your spouse, often.
- Buy a present for someone.
- Call your parents or grandparents, or better yet, stop by or plan to visit.
- Ask someone about their day/an opinion and listen.
6. Do What Makes You Happy
Before you can do what makes you happy, you need to discover just what that means. As we get older, the things that once gave us satisfaction and joy may not be fulfilling anymore. This is especially true after any major life changing event like marriage, having a kid, losing someone or buying a home. Our priorities change with life changing events, and so do our joys. A late night out at the bar [with a next day hangover] just doesn’t seem as appealing when you’ve got a baby at home that relies on you. Saturday mornings are now most enjoyable when you feel great and wake up early so you can play and give full attention to your new little family member.
So the question comes, what do you do for fun on Friday night? Pay attention to this when big things happen in your life. If you never take the time to figure out what makes you happy, guess what? Life will start to feel like you’re not “living”. You may find that a bike club now fits the bill or DIY projects around the house gets you excited.
Though you may not have as much time to spend as you once had, try to plan for fun activities that will give you joy and fulfillment. Schedule for a babysitter, allow your spouse to take an hour or two to go do what they choose – and don’t expect anything in return for it. There’s the kicker. Likely, your time on the weekends just is not plentiful enough to allow both of you to get alone time in the same day.
Bottom line is to take care of your emotional needs while also fostering your family’s. If you’ve got kids, giving your children happy parents is priceless.
What else do you think is vital to making the most out of your life? I’d love to hear. And, again, I want to remember Paul and thank him for inspiring me today. I’m hoping he has also inspired you to make the most out of your life.
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