“Though the road’s been rocky, it sure feels good to me.”
About a decade ago my grandmother, a woman whom I respected and cherished dearly, turned eighty years old. I’ve written about her before, but I’ll do her justice once again by restating that she was one of the wisest and most humble people I’ve ever known. Although a bit soft-spoken, every time she did speak priceless wisdom rattled the eardrums of those lucky enough to be around.
On the evening of her eightieth birthday, in a moment of genuine humility but obvious self-doubt she asked me, “Marc, at my age, do you think I still matter? Do you think I still have more to achieve?” I was completely speechless and I stumbled over my words for several seconds. Here I am in the presence of someone whom I have an undying respect for, and she’s asking me whether or not she matters.
I finally collected myself and said, “Grandma, yes – 110% yes! You matter and you still have a lot to look forward to. I’m not telling you this because I love you, but because it’s the truth. As time rolls on you will prove this truth to yourself, and I will be there to support you every step of the way.”
My grandmother sat silently for a moment, smiled and replied, “Thank you dear. I needed to hear that. I’m honestly looking forward to the journey ahead.”
Over the course of the next decade, until she finally passed away at 90, my grandmother lived intently and joyously. She wrote, painted, volunteered at hospitals and community centers, and learned several new skills (my favorite of which was playing the piano). And of course, she remained a beacon of wisdom to everyone around her.
Her moment of self-doubt always stuck with me though and I still think about it from time to time. Now, all these years later, I realize that people in all walks of life lose hope every day – sometimes for just a few minutes and sometimes for prolonged periods of time.
What’s most important is to remember that, regardless of our specific situation, there’s always hope to be found. While we’re alive there’s always something meaningful left to experience and appreciate. Here are some thoughts on what we all still have to live for…
1. The power of now.
Every moment is equally special. Every moment is a gift.
Your life is not between the moments of your birth and death. Your life is between now and your next breath. The present moment is all the life there ever is.
Your entire lifespan is simply composed of ‘right nows.’ The best is not in front of you or behind you. It’s within you always in each moment.
So my challenge to you is this: Open your eyes. Wake up. Be attentive. Appreciate this moment for what it is. Regard the present as another chance to enjoy the sights, sounds, smells and sensations life has to offer. Enjoy the big things that we often mistake as little things. Read 1,000 Little Things.
2. Your ability to learn something new.
Gandhi once said, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” What this means to me in the simplest of terms: Every day is a gift, and the gift is learning.
Be a student of life. Indulge in it, learn from it and absorb all the knowledge you can. The purpose of your life is to live it in full, to experience it to the utmost, to reach out with an open mind for the newest and richest experience being offered at the time.
3. Knowing you gave it your best shot.
Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of leaving the rest of your life unlived. You don’t have to live forever; you just have to live passionately right now while you have a chance. Keep in mind that life hasn’t afforded everyone this chance. You have been gifted a priceless opportunity.
Forget about how you thought things were supposed to be. Just because some things didn’t work out as you had expected, or didn’t happen as fast as you thought they would, is no excuse to give up on yourself. Time passes one way or the other. Do what you need to do so that, at the very least, you can look back someday and say, “I gave life my best shot.” Read Tuesdays with Morrie.
4. The wisdom and strength you have within you.
Human beings don’t become wise by reading books – they become educated. Living out experiences firsthand in the real world, one day at a time, is what gives birth to wisdom. Ultimately wisdom is what you get when you test out the waters for yourself. This kind of life experience is the most valuable asset you own.
Sometimes on the road to acquiring wisdom life will beat you down, but you have to stand back up. Because nothing is more beautiful and powerful than a soul who has weather and grown through life’s difficulties. Don’t regret your time, even the moments that were filled with hurt. Smile because you learned from it all and because you gained enough strength to rise above it all.
In the end, it’s not what you have been through that matters; it’s how you got through it that defines your life and your legacy.
5. The positive difference you can make.
Learn to give, even if it’s just a smile, not because you have too much, but because you know there are so many others out there who feel like they have nothing at all. You always have the ability to be kind, and kindness really does make the world a better place.
Smile at people who look like they’re having a rough day. Give them a hand if you’re able. Kindness is the only investment that never fails, and wherever there’s another human being there’s an opportunity for kindness.
As a bonus, when you’re kind to others and bring happiness into their lives, you will not be able to keep it from yourself either. Read The How of Happiness.
6. You are worthy.
The greatest thinking trap is self-rejection. When you begin to believe the negative voices in your head that sometimes call you worthless, then the thought of leaving this world can seem like an attractive option. What you need to realize is: these negative voices are lies.
As soon as someone accuses you or criticizes you, as soon as you are rejected, left alone, or abandoned for a short time, you might find yourself thinking, “Well, that proves once again that I am a nobody.” What you need to realize is, these other people are NOT worthy of YOU.
Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of emotional growth because it contradicts the sacred inner voice that calls you “worthy.” And being worthy constitutes the core truth of every human existence.
Say it out loud if you have to: “This is my journey, and I am worthy of the trip.”
As Hemingway so profoundly said, “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
You may feel discouraged. You may feel upset. You may feel too old. You may be sick. You may be divorced. You may be unemployed. You may be financially strapped. You may be… etc.
But you’re not dead – YOU ARE ALIVE. Your journey is not over.
NO matter what, this simple fact alone is proof that you still have something meaningful to achieve.
What makes you feel most alive? What gives your life meaning? Leave us a comment below and let us know.
Photo by: Jhong Dizon
I don’t know how I came across your blog, but I am so glad I did. Reading your posts are like a breath of fresh air. I love reading your short and sweet reinforcing positive points. They seriously level me out and keep things in perspective for me. Thank you for making a difference in my life.
And to answer your question, right now I honestly feel most alive because of the inspiration you have been giving me recently and because of my supportive wife who always pushes me to be my best self.
Thank you… so much. You have no idea how much I needed this today.
Vincent Nguyen says
Powerful post and self-rejection is what I still struggle with on occasion. What gets me through it is by looking at my accomplishments and the potential I have to give to the world in the future.
What gives my life meaning is the help I can give others, whether it’s my words or with my actions. I wonder at times whether or not I’ve made a difference yet, but I keep going because regardless there is still days to come to do so.
Jamie Jansen says
Simply beautiful. I love your point about being and feeling worthy.
Working on growing my small arts and crafts store to a profitable business over the last year has what’s been making me feel most alive. Working on something I believe in daily gives my life meaning.
I’ve been depressed and suicidal on and off for the past two years, and almost lost hope and tried to end it all. I’d just like you to know your posts have brought out something wonderful in me and possibly someone somewhere else in the world. Thanks for being a blessing to all those out there seeking just the right words… The words that you’ve chosen here are priceless.
My kids… that is it… nothing else is left.
Mark Flynn says
Writing and feeling inspired makes me feel most alive, my love gives my life meaning, and I want to personally thank you for this article. You affect me which in turn affects families for a week with positivity. So thank you for this zombie-like, positivity infection that I have contracted because of you. Time to go out into the world and “bite” some people.
I had never thought that words could be so powerful. This honestly changed my perspective. It’s truly an amazing article that I have just finished reading for the third time in a row.
Excellent post… again.
Sarah Newman says
For me its my young kids, because they really do live in the moment and they have that insatiable curiosity we tend to lose when we become adults.
An excellent article which I’ve bookmarked and will read again and again. Thank you for posting.
This article is so true! Thank you so much it brought tears to my eyes and best of all a positive realization! 🙂 xx
You guys are awesome! Thank you again. I have taken so much from your posts, I can only hope to pass on half of what I’ve received!
~Peace, Love & Joy
Mike Smith says
We come across websites from all sorts of angles, and I’m glad I found this one. My own Mum is 90 years old, fit as a fiddle, out every day. Her birthday was last August. Had a party for her. Two sons traveled over 12,000 miles to attend, as did two adult grandsons who made it a surprise for her. All her family was there plus lots of friends. That’s how much we care and think about her. Nice to be important, and she is….
I feel most alive and have meaning when I’m writing.
marilyn bonacorso says
Another great read. Thanks again.
Beth W says
I absolutely love your blog – I came across it on FB one day, and your writings have changed my perspective on so many things!
What makes me feel alive? Looking at the world around me with “new eyes”: sitting quietly in a park watching squirrels and birds, driving and marveling at the structures in the city or the countryside in a rural setting, going to an event and watching the interactions between people attending it, making someone SMILE!
JAMES MTONGA says
I thank for the positive message; unfortunately most of the time I fear to take certain steps for the fear that I might fail.
Every day – “Marc and Angel Hack Life” in my life. All your posts help me to brighten up my days, win the battles with the doubts and fears make me love and cherish my close ones. Thank you! Sincerely, Kristina
Your children are a wonderful, special part of your life. But you, you are left…
Giving the best of me to this world and the people in it. Helping others who suffer like I once did. Making somebody smile, whether it be anclose friend kf the clerk at the gas station. Listening with compassion. Hearing people and hearing a message/lesson. Learning to be humble. Looking in the mirror and saying with honesty that I did my best today. Essentially all of the things that I read abounconstantly in your messaging, which is why I love it so much 🙂 THANK YOU
Not sure I have found my purpose in life yet, but I keep trying. Your beautiful words do help.
Thank you Marc,
For me it is my son about to graduate, and the other son getting married soon , watching my 2 grandchildren growing up , and embracing each new stage of life .
Sea Dean says
Thank you. I put a link to this article on my blog which is for Artists and Art Lovers. I hope it will help many who are going through rough times. If you’re reading this please spare a thought for artists, who give so generously of their time and work for charity, but no-one seems to remember that when the economy is bad, they are the first to suffer. I have read so many sad Art blogs lately which share how depressed the writer is due to the downturn in their livelihood 🙂
A friend of mine recently passed. I wonder how this article might have changed her mind.
Thank you for this.
Great post for a Monday!
What makes me feel alive is sunshine, nature, music, art, and writing. I love, love the SUN! It gives me energy, and I feel better when the sun is out. It’s one of the reasons why I chose to live in Arizona. I was outside five to seven days a week, no matter how hot it was. 🙂
I give my life meaning!
My belief is that I (we) co-create our lives with the divine, universal intelligence, God, or whatever name you give to that unseen forces that moves in and out throughout your day, throughout your life.
It’s up to each one of us to give meaning to our lives. I (we) can’t wait on the sidelines for someone else to do it.
I don’t know about you, but I take full responsibility for my life. It’s up to me to change or shift my life for the better. It’s up to me to give meaning to my life. What about you?
You always have inspiring messages. This one is short, simple yet makes you feel wonderful to be alive, making you realize your self worth. Thanks Marc and Angel.
to suman : just as your kids give your life meaning, you also give the same to them. there is so much ahead for you, you will find it inside. live – i am rooting for you
I’m still suffering from the loss of my life partner and have just been rejected by a beloved child. Every day I wake up already weary of the day ahead, and when I see your article it does help. What gets me through the day? Honestly, my pets. I live for them now.
Thank you for the very powerful article. I live a very emotional life. My first enemy is emotions and I use to live in the past far too often. But I’m growing…
greg schenk says
helping my son learn and grow gives me the most satisfaction and joy in my life.
And helping others who want to truly be the best they can be really brings me joy to me as well.
I am turning this into a birthday card for my mother, who is turning 75 next month. She is so active with golf and gardening and music, but recently, arthritis has made it more difficult to play the piano, and it makes her sad… and maybe a little scared. Thanks for the good words 🙂
Thank you for your words of wisdom and enlightenment. They are a great way to start each day!
Your blogs are wonderful! I look forward to them everyday and when I share them, I know there are many smiles shared! I feel most alive when I can witness the beauty and purity of nature.
Thank you for sharing your gift of insight with us all.
I have suffered from domestic violence since I was young age when I was living at home with my parents, I have suffered abused from my previous marriage for 27 years, and now re-married to another violent partner. I am slowly preparing to leave my abuser. This time, I felt different perhaps it took many years to discover what really is important in my life. Me… I am in a journey of finding myself, it is painful but I believe it is worth ot. As you have mentioned in your article “Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of leaving the rest of your life unlived”.
My reply to your question is… FINDING Leila – myself – and taking a chance and to start loving myself. I thought I’d let you know that I am grateful for everything you post, because you have helped me a lot. You have given me hope. Thank you very very much Marc and Angel.
Helping people and saving their life gives my life a meaning. Thanks.
Thanks for a great post. I have been struggling with finding what my “purpose” is at this stage in my life for a while now. Your phrase “The purpose of your life is to live it in full . . .” resonated strongly with me. Rather than focusing on not understanding my purpose, I need to live my life each day as fully as I can.
New experiences, meeting new people, learning more and more, laughing with my friends and family, helping others – makes me feel alive
Pat Hardy says
Every breath we take is a gift not to be wasted in self-doubt or deprecation. We never know what a day will bring or offer us. Our duty is to be kind to everyone crossing our path and to let life itself to unfold. If you’re down in the dumps, get your mind off of yourself and doing something nice for someone…even if it is just a smile.
Thank you – just what I needed this morning! Appreciating the beauty of nature & helping other people gives my life meaning…
Wow, incredible piece to start the week. Totally awesome!
Knowing everyday is a big step in the right direction in my life and seeing my dreams becoming clearer to me everyday makes life worth living. Thank you for the post.
We have hope that there is an end to life as we know it here, followed by a more glorious future than anyone can imagine. We are only given today and where we are today is where we are given the chance to learn and serve. Thank you for well worded guidance; thank you for allowing me to punctuate your thoughts by suggesting that our only way of accessing any wisdom or effectiveness is through the one, eternal God.
The Word of God makes me feel alive. Using my camera to capture the beauty of nature, the rainbow before it disappears, the butterfly who chose to fly alongside me on the walk in the woods, the tree that seems to have a smile in its bark, the moss growing on the birch, the foliage in fall, the cloud formations that look like familiar objects, the etc. And always, my loving nephew whose heart is full of love, in spite of so many obstacles in his life, because he reminds me that in spite of all my failures, my relationship with him is of great value, no matter what my failures or successes in life!
David Rapp says
Struggling with bi-polar disorder and no testosterone has dominated my life for 7 years. Therapy was failing. Personal relationships were drifting. It was not until I reached out in my worst manic phase ever (6 days without any sleep) that help came pouring in. People are not mind readers, you have to request the help no matter what the consequences. There is still some David to salvage in this medical nightmare, larger forces are at work whether I like it or not.
Inspired by you! says
I LOVE your posts, Marc and Angel, and often share them with my kids, husband and family. I love the twist on the negative self talk we all go thru from time to time when criticized by others, feeling abandoned or rejected in that others MAY not be worthy of US! Finding those who are worthy and who value our love and love us for exactly who we are is the key…syncing with others who bring out the best in one another. Thank you for all of your wonderfully uplifting and thought provoking posts!
My kids, my family & friends, for myself and for helping others – I am driven by these above all else.
I was most taken with your Grandmother’s question about whether she mattered or not. I’ve asked that very question of myself. Funny how being middle aged at times makes you feel invisible to some. Off their radar so to speak. I know I do matter – but it is that “self rejection” little voice that pipes in every so often. What younger people need to remember is that we were once young, cool, and fun – just as they are, and that we still are!
So what really gives my life meaning? My kids. I have the opportunity to give them wisdom and guidance. You really know how much you love them when they make a bad decision and you are faced with a situation that needs your help. That’s a time when you know you have lots to offer. Experience!
PS – Ben – I’m so glad that you found this awesome inspiring website and that you are HERE!!!
Julia SB says
Your posts remove all excuses not to excel, and leave us no reason not to use the gifts that God has already given us to become great. Thank you for the reminders.
Wow. This was just exactly what I needed today. Thank you. I get so impatient with the process and the cycle; it feels like I’m always at square one. I often accept defeat before ever giving it a real shot. But reading this, combined with reading a 10 year old Journal has reminded me how wise and worthy I am and much I actually have accomplished despite some major setbacks. Thank you for your wise words.