“May you actually live every day of your life.”
— Jonathan Swift
I recently received an email from a young “Think Better, Live Better 2020” digital ticket attendee named Kaarina that nearly brought me to tears. And after exchanging a few heartfelt replies back and forth with her, she graciously gave me permission to share the opening lines of her initial email:
“I’m dying of cancer (Lymphoma) at age 21. I was sent home from the hospital for my final weeks over 32 weeks ago. But now I’m back at the hospital being treated again, because my doctors believe there is renewed hope.”
Right now it seems a miracle is taking place in Kaarina’s life. I pray this miracle continues to transpire. And I’m also grateful for the reminder Kaarina has given me. Our lives are fleeting, and the best day to fight for the right to live is today — by taking small, positive steps forward on a purposeful path.
Truth be told, everything you want to do takes daily practice. Whether it means learning to dance by practicing dancing or learning to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. In each case, it’s about dedicating yourself to a precise set of daily acts, both mental and physical, that drive a sense of achievement, meaning, and satisfaction of the inner spirit. You become, in some way, an athlete of Life itself. Because you practice, over and over again, in the face of all obstacles, and you grow stronger and more capable with each action you take.
“Notes to Self” for Making Today Count
As Mae West so profoundly said, “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” Remind yourself to not take today for granted. Remind yourself to live well — to make this day count! How? There are so many little things you can do that are unique to your specific life situation, but here are some general guiding principles — or “Notes to Self” — that I discussed with Kaarina in our recent email exchange. I’m hoping this short list gives you something positive to work on…
1. Keep your mind open to new possibilities and experiences.
As they say, a ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for. Accepting some level of risk in life is important. You cannot be both close-minded and moving forward. You have to open up to the unknown. You have to keep an open mind.
Close-minded people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it’s the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Cynicism is a self-imposed blindness — a rejection of the world that occurs when we are afraid it will hurt us or let us down. Cynics always resist life’s possibilities. Do the opposite today.
Remind yourself that life leads us on many journeys we would never go on if it were up to us. And oftentimes what we never wanted or expected turns out to be what we need. So, don’t be afraid. Have faith. Find the lessons today. Trust the journey, even when you do not understand it, yet.
2. Put your whole heart and soul into this day.
Learn to believe in your heart that you’re meant to live each moment full of passion and purpose — that each and every moment is worthy in its own way. Consider this excerpt from our New York Times bestselling book, Getting Back to Happy: Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Reality, and Turn Your Trials into Triumphs:
Passion is not something you find in life; it’s something you do. When you want to find the passion and inner strength needed to change your situation, you have to force yourself to step forward.
Many of us are still hopelessly trying to “find our passion” — something we believe will ultimately lead us closer to happiness, success, or the life situation we ultimately want. And we say “hopelessly” primarily because passion can’t really be found. When we say we’re trying to find our passion, it implies that our passion is somehow hiding behind a tree or under a rock somewhere. But that’s far from the truth. The truth is, our passion comes from doing things right. If you’re waiting to somehow “find your passion” somewhere outside yourself, so you finally have a reason to put your whole heart and soul into your life and the changes you need to make, you’ll likely be waiting around for an eternity.
On the other hand, if you’re tired of waiting, and you’d rather live more passionately starting today and experience small positive changes, it’s time to proactively inject passion into the very next thing you do. Think about it:
- When was the last time you sat down and had a conversation with someone nearby, with zero distractions and 100 percent focus?
- When was the last time you exercised and put every bit of effort you could muster into it?
- When was the last time you truly tried — truly tried — to do your very best?
Like most of us, you’re likely putting a halfhearted effort into most of the things you do on a daily basis. Because you’re still waiting. You’re still waiting to “find” something to be passionate about — some magical reason to step into the life you want to create for yourself. But you need to do the exact opposite!
3. Love, respect, and care for yourself.
Remind yourself that you don’t need anyone else to complete you. There’s far more to life than finding someone who will want you, or getting upset over someone who won’t. There’s a lot of important time to be spent discovering yourself without begging someone to fall in love with you along the way, and this journey doesn’t need to be empty or painful. YOU need to fill yourself up with love, respect, and care — self-love, self-respect, and self-care — every single day.
Self-respect will help you prioritize yourself. Self-care will help you take care of your entire life. And self–love will help you attract more things worth loving and investing in. Everything you want out starts inside. Every trying situation contains an opportunity for deeper self-reflection and learning. Every irritant, heartbreak, frustration, disappointment, fearful moment and sadness is a teacher. Remember, nothing is as bad as it seems. And you are strong!
So, go on a small adventure today, explore your curiosities, wander around the city and see new sights, sit in coffee shops and read, write on bathroom stalls, leave notes in library books, dress up for yourself, give to others who can’t pay you back, smile and have fun. Do all things with love, but don’t romanticize life like you can’t survive without someone giving it to you every second. You can. And once you give it to yourself, you will feel healed, and you will ultimately open yourself up to the possibility of truly healthy relationships with others, too. (Marc and I discuss this in detail in the “Self-Love” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
4. Give yourself another chance today, and another.
Sometimes you have to die a little on the inside in order to rise from your own ashes and believe in yourself again. Call it growth. Call it finding yourself. Call it whatever you want. The key is to live moment to moment when times are tough, and push forward, until moments become minutes… minutes become hours… hours become days… days become weeks… weeks turn to months… time again has meaning, and life itself becomes a reason to smile. The process is almost like learning to walk or speak for the very first time. It isn’t easy, but in the process we grow and we find ourselves, stronger, wiser, and possessing talents we didn’t know we had. When we refuse to give up on ourselves, the toughest of times can lead us to the best.
Remember that when everything is broken, it’s easy to find plenty of little things you can fix. When nothing seems to be going right, even the most fundamental positive effort can make a significant difference. Times of great adversity are also times of great opportunity. When there are problems in every direction, there is also great value waiting to be created.
When everything is going well, it’s easy to get lulled into a routine of complacency. It’s easy to forget how incredibly capable and resourceful you can be. Resolve to persevere by making tiny fixes today. It’s these little tweaks that take you from where you are to where you want to be in the long run, one day at a time.
The floor is yours…
Please leave a comment below and let us know:
Which reminder above resonated the most?
Anything else to share?
Marc and I would love to hear from YOU. 🙂
Also, we recently released our NEW podcast, THINK BETTER, LIVE BETTER (yes, it shares the title of our annual live event). You can listen to the first 20 episodes on your favorite podcast player right now (M&A on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts).