“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
“Today I am celebrating my 90th birthday. I’ve seen the world change many times over. It’s amazing how much progress we’ve made. When I was a child there was no such thing as a television, and now I’m online typing this on a touchscreen tablet my grandson bought me for my birthday. This ride we call ‘life’ is amazing!”
Those are the opening lines to an email I received this morning from a reader named Mary Ann. The rest of her email discusses the ups and downs of her 90-year journey, and how she perceives life as being like an “ongoing jigsaw puzzle” we never quite complete. “It’s crazy how some pieces randomly go missing, and then other pieces you didn’t even know existed fit so perfectly in the empty spaces,” she says.
Mary Ann’s words of wisdom remind me that there will always be ups and downs in life, but ultimately, at the end of the day, that’s what makes each of us who we are. Which is why you have to learn to accept both the good and the bad that falls on your plate with grace. Because everything in life happens for you, not to you. Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late. For everything you lose, you gain something else; and for everything you gain, you lose something else. You don’t have to like it, but it’s just easier if you do.
So pay attention to your outlook on life. Every day you can either regret or rejoice; it’s your choice. When you choose the latter, life opens doors to amazing experiences you will likely remember forever. Here are 40 such experiences…
- Flowing and working through life’s great challenges. – No matter what happens, do your best and smile. You won’t enjoy your life if you don’t enjoy your challenges. Great challenges make life interesting, and overcoming them makes life meaningful.
- The freedom that comes from acceptance. – The secret to happiness and peace is letting every situation be what it is, instead of what you think it should be, and then making the best of it.
- Moments of sincere gratitude. – Appreciate life even when it’s not ideal. Happiness is not the fulfillment of what we wish for, but an appreciation for what we have. When life gives you every reason to be negative, think of one good reason to be positive. There’s always something to be grateful for.
- The beautiful happenings that made it all worthwhile. – When you can look back on painful events and feel that you were blessed for how you grew, for the love you knew, for the very fact that you did live through those times, then, and only then, can you truly appreciate gratitude’s vital role in the process of letting go.
- Walking comfortably in your own shoes. – We are all weird in some way. What sets you apart may seem like a burden, but it’s not. Most of the time it’s what makes you so incredible.
- The moment you start listening to your inner voice, rather than defying it. – Sometimes your mind needs more time to accept what your heart already knows. Breathe. Be a witness, not a judge. Listen to your intuition.
- Aligning what you do with who you are. – Make the rest of your life the best of your life. Create a life that feels good on the inside, not one that just looks good on the outside. (Read Quitter.)
- Using your unique ideas, perspectives, and skills to make a difference. – If you desire to make a difference in the world, you must be different from the world, and you must be bold enough to show it.
- Designing your own life, your own way. – No matter how you live, someone will be disappointed. So live a life you are proud of. Live YOUR truth and be sure YOU aren’t the one who is disappointed in the end.
- Working hard on something you love. – Hard work becomes easy when your work becomes your play. Never underestimate the value of loving what you do. When we lose ourselves in the things we love, we find ourselves there, too.
- Knowing deep down that you gave your dreams a fair chance. – Most of the time the only difference between a dream that came true and one that didn’t, is a person who wouldn’t give up and one who did.
- Reflections of your own bravery. – When you’re scared but you take the next step anyway, that’s bravery.
- The glory of conquering an old fear. – Fear is a feeling, not a fact. The best way to gain strength and self-confidence is to do what you are afraid to do. Dare to stretch yourself.
- Being courageous enough to grow and evolve. – It takes courage to grow and become who you really are. Don’t fear change. You may lose something good, but you may also gain something great.
- The way you feel at the end of highly productive days. – Laziness may appear attractive, but work leads to happiness. You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do. Good things don’t come to those who wait; they come to those who work on meaningful goals.
- When your patience finally pays off. – Patience is not the ability to wait, but how you act and how hard you are willing to work while you’re waiting for your work to pay off.
- Making the impossible possible. – In most cases, impossible is not a fact; it’s an opinion. Almost anything is possible if you’ve got enough time and enough nerve.
- When you have a great reason to be impressed with yourself. – Spend less time impressing others and more time impressing yourself. Climb a mountain so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.
- Engaging deeply in your own journey, drama-free. – Let the tasks of refining, improving, and appreciating your own life keep you so busy that you have no need and no time to criticize others, or engage in their drama.
- Standing up for yourself. – Sometimes we suffer, not because of the violence others inflict on us, but because of our own silence. When someone tries to bully you, stand up for yourself and say, “Not so fast, buddy! Your delusion of superiority is your problem, not mine.
- Relationships that make you a better person. – Know that it’s less important to have more friends and more important to have real ones. Surround yourself with people who make you better, and cherish every moment of your time together.
- Knowing deep down that you truly matter to someone else. – Someday you will be just a memory to some people. Do your best to be a great one.
- True intimate love. – True love is not about how many days, months or years you’ve been with someone. True love is about how much you actually love each other every day.
- Appreciating the beautiful imperfections of another person. – Imperfection is real and beautiful. It’s how two people accept and deal with the imperfections of their relationship, that make it ideal in the end. (Read The Gifts of Imperfection.)
- Following through with your promises. – Unless a real commitment is made there are only empty promises and hopes, but no real plans or results. Remember, commitment means staying loyal and keeping a promise long after the mood you made the promise in has left you.
- Giving a struggling soul a little extra leeway. – Don’t be so quick to judge. The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of us, but those who win battles we know nothing about.
- Helping someone who desperately needs your kindness. – Those who are hardest to love often need it the most. So treat everyone with kindness, even those who are rude. Give them a chance.
- Knowing you did the right thing. – True integrity is doing the right thing, no matter what, even when nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.
- Seeing genuine smile you helped create. – Few things are more satisfying than helping someone else smile a little more than before.
- Coming to a loving compromise with someone special. – Sometimes we must choose to be wrong, not because we really are wrong, but because we value our relationship more than our pride.
- Moments of mindful presence. – If you’re always racing to the next moment, what happens to the one you’re in? Stop over thinking and worrying. Life is too short for that. Worry and rumination are the worst enemies to living happily in the present. Take a moment here and there to just be and breathe.
- The liberation of letting go. – Letting go of the past is your first step toward happiness. So finish each day before you begin the next, and build a solid foundation of rest between the two.
- The process of growing through failure. – Remember, your failure does not define you, your determination does. Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, smarter than before.
- When the sun finally shines through the dark clouds again. – Don’t give up on yourself. Keep fighting. Sometimes you’ve got to go through the worst of times to get the best. (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Adversity” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- Surprising new beginnings. – Every ending is the beginning of something else. Every exit is an entry somewhere else. As long as you are breathing, it’s never too late; every day is a new opportunity.
- The nimble feeling of being a beginner. – Allow yourself to be a beginner. No one starts off being great. Do the best you can until you know better. When you know better, do better.
- The exhilaration of first time experiences. – You can see or do something a million times, but you can only see or do it for the first time once. And that makes doing so worth it. Many of the great times you will remember for a lifetime are the ones when you stepped outside of your comfort zone and tried something new.
- Becoming a parent. – Being a mother or father is discovering strengths you didn’t know you had and dealing with fears you never knew existed.
- The happiness YOU create for yourself and those you love. – In life, you often have to create your own sunshine. So read something positive every morning when you wake up, and let it inspire you to do something positive before you go back to sleep at night. That’s how memorable days are made.
- Every moment you are busy living through love. – Today is one of the good ol’ days you’re going to miss someday. So be sooo busy loving your life and those in it that you have no time for hate, regret or fear.
Truth be told, talking about our problems is our greatest addiction. Let’s break this negative habit and talk about our joys, our loves, and our victories instead. So tell me this:
What makes life amazing? What makes a moment worth remembering?
Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
Photo by: Hamish Irvine