I’m writing this to get my thoughts and ideas down “on paper.” Too often the sands of time erase life lessons from our memory, as new blessings and obstacles emerge with the passing of each new day.
Life’s lessons are often learned through tragedy and rebirth. I often find that, monotonous days, weeks, months and years fly by and before we can even blink, life has passed us.
This isn’t a story of loss or sadness, it’s a story of celebration, and the lessons we can all learn when the rear view mirror of life is examined, and it’s true meaning revealed.
My father-in-law, Mark S. Braun passed away Tuesday May 19th 2015 , at 10:53PM central time, he was 62 years young. Mark had spent the better part of the past 9 months fighting unknown heart conditions which had led to several massive heart attacks, the final being Monday May 11th, 2015.
Mark was an inspiration to all that knew him. The most honorable, humble, caring, loving, nurturing and dedicated man I have ever known. The answer was always yes when asked for help, and his own priorities most often came second. He was a fountain of knowledge and story telling was by far his favorite past time. He would strike up conversations with complete strangers and within seconds, they’d be best friends. With zero enemies and thousands of friends, the world truly lost an amazing person on May 19th.
I’ve heard it said that when you die, your life is defined by 3 things on your tombstone;
- The date you were born
- The date you died
- The “dash” in between
We have very little control over the 2 dates, but as for the “dash,” that’s 100% up to us.
Too often our days, weeks, months and years are spent squabbling over the things we cannot control. The weather, the road conditions, and the actions (or inaction) of others around us, to name a few.
As a whole, this society seems to be so stuck in “that’s the way it is” frame of mind, we fail to see what we CAN do, what we CAN change, and the true legacy we can leave on this earth.
For me, it was the passing of my father-in-law this week that put life into perspective. Every time I’ve “lost” someone, similar thoughts come to mind, but soon I’m back living the grind of life. This time, I’m writing it down so that I can remember and if you’re reading this, it may spark something in you.
The important life lessons;
Live – Live every single day to the absolute fullest. Void your life of the phrase “later,” and instead replace it with “NOW.” Have a “dream vacation“… TAKE IT!
Love – Love yourself, love your family, spread joy to all you encounter.
Be Happy – Happiness IS the fountain of youth. Find what you love and do it. The only thing holding you back, are the perceived boundaries of life that YOU have created and tied yourself to.
Complain constantly about your job? Get a new one! Don’t like cold winters, move south! Don’t like extreme heat, move north! Every reason you’re telling yourself right now (the yeah, buts), are merely in your head and created by you! People move to new states all of the time! There are millions of other jobs, or business ideas out there, go get it! Whatever you do, do not spend another decade or even minute doing something or living somewhere you hate!
Smile – A simple smile can change the trajectory of someones day, and as a result, change their life.
Be Positive – Creating a positive environment will not only ensure a more fulfilling life for you, but also those around you. Positivity is a vaccine, that if used often can cure most anything life “throws at you.” Try it!
Stand Up For What You Believe – Laying idle and allowing life to “happen” helps no one. You have beliefs, ideas and skills that can literally change the world and help make it a better place. Be a megaphone and make yourself heard!
Go To The Doctor – We bring our cars in for routine maintenance no matter what. There are plenty of cars, but only one of us. However, most of us fail to have routine checkups to ensure everything is “running right.” Proper health and checkups can literally save your life.
Live Within Your Means – Today, our society as a whole spends more money annually than we make. Living paycheck to paycheck with mounting debt is yet another imaginary “comfort” most of us crave. The new car, the new boat, the 6 bedroom house for a family of 4 all seem nice. But do they really make you happy? Do material belongings truly help you reach YOUR success, or in the end do they end up being the ball and chain that repress your true dreams and ambitions?
Save And Invest – Very few Americans save a dime and an “emergency fund” wears a American Express logo with a substantial credit limit. What if tomorrow you were let go from your job or something else happened that seriously altered your income? We cannot predict the future, but we can prepare “as if.” Having a true emergency fund, retirement account and other investments ensures the life lessons above and below are within reach.
Help Others – Help as many people as you can.
Believe In Yourself – Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t… you’re right. A child’s imaginative ability and self confidence, coupled with an adults skill and knowledge, can truly change the world.
Relax – If you think about it, very little happens in life that requires a high level of stress or anxiety. Most stress is self induced and amplified only by our inner self-talk. Refer back to “Be Happy.”
Above All… Be Yourself – Remember, you are living YOUR life and have every right to do what you want during your years on this earth. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not (unless you’re an actor). People will respect the true you more than if you live with a facade. Don’t worry about impressing others, for when you’re time has come, the only thing that will matter is YOUR life, YOUR actions and the happiness you felt during your years on this earth.
Start today, I am. Thank you Mark for the legacy you’ve left on this earth. Because of you, countless peoples lives are better, more fulfilled and more purposeful. The impact you made on my family and myself is infinite. I’m honored to have known you.