Life is rarely perfect, but it’s always pretty darn good.
This morning I saw an elderly woman in a wheelchair rolling down the sidewalk in the pouring rain just outside the coffee shop where I was writing. She was moving at a snail’s pace and I thought she might be struggling, so I ran out into the rain and asked her if she needed assistance or a dry resting spot. She smiled and said, “I appreciate it, but the rain feels great against my skin. I’m out here and going slow on purpose.”
I loved her sentiment – talk about the epitome of appreciating life. And truthfully, life is simply too short for anything less. When you’re young, you might feel like there’s a huge mass of time ahead of you. But trust me, it passes much faster than you think. You get grey hairs before you feel like a real adult. And then you have kids, and suddenly they’re off doing their own things. None of this is bad, of course. It’s an extraordinary experience, as long as you pause long enough to appreciate it all.
So that’s what I want to reflect on today – quick reminders about the things life is just too short not to appreciate…
- A peaceful, mindful present. – The best way to prepare for the future is to take care of the present. Goodbyes will always hurt a little. Photographs can never replace the act of being there. Memories, good and bad, will sometimes bring tears. And words can never perfectly describe the feelings they represent. But that’s OK. Pain is real. But so is hope. You have to make peace with your past in order to keep your present and future from becoming hopeless battles.
- The good in everything. – The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another. Train your mind to see the good in everything. Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the breeze through the trees, the small child learning to walk, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the sun on your skin. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for the beauty of each precious moment.
- Life’s surprises. – Notice and cherish life’s surprises. Just because it’s not what you were expecting, doesn’t mean it’s not everything you’ve been waiting for. So take a deep breath when you’re rejected from something good. It often means you’re being redirected to something better. Be patient. Be positive. Keep going. (Read The Road Less Traveled.)
- The challenges that strengthen you. – Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in life. If we were to go through our life without any obstacles, we would be crippled. We would not be as strong as what we could have been otherwise. So give every opportunity a chance – leave no room for regrets. It takes courage to change and grow and become who you really are. Your struggle is part of your story. And it’s a story worth writing.
- Being YOU. – You’re an original, an individual, a masterpiece. Celebrate it! Don’t let your uniqueness make you shy. Don’t be someone other than the wonder you are. Everyone has their own dreams, their own struggles, and a different path that makes sense for them. You are YOU for a reason. Own it.
- The gifts that are only yours. – Even when the competition seems fierce, realize that you are only ever competing against yourself. When you catch yourself comparing yourself to a colleague, neighbor, friend, or famous personality, stop! There’s no need. You are different, with different strengths – strengths these other people don’t possess. Take a moment to reflect on all the astounding abilities you have and to be grateful for the gifts that are only yours.
- Ideas and activities that excite you. – Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about. When you truly believe in what you’re doing, it shows, and it pays. Success in life is for those who are excited about where they’re going. So find something that you love – something that gets you so excited you can’t wait to get out of bed in the morning. That’s what life is all about. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to live a life you are excited about. Don’t let anyone or anything make you forget that.
- The simple things. – It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary. I believe this to be true and have experienced this with my own family. When I think of the times where we laughed the most or had the most fun, it was when we were doing simple, everyday things like swimming in a pool, taking a long walk, combing a beach for shells, playing a board game, or sharing a delicious meal.
- The excitement and freedom of vulnerability. – Being vulnerable is helpful to both ourselves and others. It makes us bigger in the world – the more open we are, the more there is of us out there. So open up. Allow yourself to feel, to be real and authentic. Tear down any emotional brick walls you have built around yourself and feel every exquisite emotion, both good and bad. This is life. This is how you welcome new opportunities.
- Inner beauty. – As if you were on fire from within, your magnificence lives in the lining of your skin. In other words, beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart and soul. Everything will line up perfectly when knowing and living the truth of who you are on the inside becomes more important than looking good on the outside. (Read A New Earth.)
- Giving without expecting anything in return. – As a child, I always thought the expression, “It’s better to give than to receive” was trite and silly. As an adult, I recognize the expression’s value. Having the capacity to give means you possess a mindset of abundance. Having the will to give means you want to make a difference in the world. Having the desire to give means you care. And nothing is more powerful than that.
- The feeling of doing the right thing. – There is plenty of good in this world and it’s worth paying attention to and fighting for. So always seek and do what is right, not what is easy. BE the change you want to see.
- The act of loving. – Love is a lifestyle. Let love win. Love fearlessly and without limits. No act of love or kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. Love never loses in the long run. Where you invest your love, you invest your life.
- Everyone around you for being who they are. – If you judge people, you have no time to love them. So pay close attention, and respect people for who they are and not for who you want them to be. Loving and respecting others means allowing them to be themselves, whether you choose to be a part of their life or not.
- The whole truth. – It’s better to be hurt by the truth and grow from it, than be comforted by a lie. And beware of half-truths too – you may have gotten ahold of the wrong half. Open your eyes. You must see things how they are instead of how you hoped, wished or expected them to be. Sometimes it’s hard to accept the truth when the lies were exactly what you wanted to know, but be strong. Life is too short to live a lie.
- Your self-respect. – It’s always better to be alone with dignity than in a relationship that constantly requires you to sacrifice your happiness and self-respect. When you let someone repeatedly hurt you, you are saying to them, “You matter more to me than my own self-respect and dignity.” You must take a stand and be willing to part ways with people whom you know you’ve given numerous chances to. Though letting go can cause lots of initial pain, it may be necessary medicine, providing you with the best possible life in the long run. (Marc and I discuss this in detail in the “Relationships” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- The dualities of life. – Experience life in all possible ways – the good and the bad, the bitter and the sweet, the dark and the light, the summer and the winter. Experience all of life’s dualities. Don’t be afraid of experience, because the more experience you have, the more life you truly live, and the more clearly you understand just how beautiful it is.
- The balance between feeling good and growing. – We must consistently check with ourselves: “Am I committed to feeling good right now, or am I committed to growing?” Either way is fine for the moment, as long as you dance between the two in the long run. Because growth does not always feel good, and feeling good does not always provide growth. And both are necessary states of being.
- A healthy body. – Your health IS your life. Never underestimate the gift of feeling strong and well. It’s the greatest wealth you will ever own. It’s the foundation for every chance at happiness and success life has to offer. So cut the excuses and treat yourself right! Take care of your body every single day – it’s the engine of your desires, and the only place you will ever truly live.
- Aging. – Manage aging, but why fight it? You can spend a fortune on face creams, plastic surgery, hair growth formulas, and Botox, but eventually you realize you are fighting an uphill battle. Groom yourself nicely. Stay fit. Have unhealthy things removed. But accept the beauty of aging. A striking, mature man or woman is much more attractive than someone who looks overly taunt, tanned or top-heavy. Remember, the allure of a truly beautiful person, with passing years only grows.
What would you add to the list?
What is life too short not to appreciate?
Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts with the community.
Photo by: James Jordan