"You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. "
Fifteen years ago, I was so happy to witness the humble, elegant, peaceful passing of my 89-year-old grandfather. When I sat quietly in his hospice room with my grandmother and other family members, smiled his nurse softly and said, "I can see that he lived well. People of his age often pass just as they lived."
And when I drove home that night, a few questions cycled through my mind …
"Do I Live Well?"
"What do I want to be able to smile about on the inside when I'm on my deathbed?"
These questions are difficult, especially the other one. on my deathbed – just thinking about it str so I simply avoided the question and the healthy self-seeking it demanded of me. I distracted myself for a few more years until I found myself back in a hospice room with my 90-year-old grandmother (who, by the way, was the most amazing person I have ever met).
On the final day of her life, I sat with my grandmother all day, in silence, in laughter, in tears, and in awe of a woman who was still smiling and sharing stories despite incredible weakness and pain. Her mind was incredibly strong even a few short hours before her death. So I gave her my undivided attention – I pulled up her wisdom last time.
And I was all ears until she asked me a version of the question I had avoided a few years earlier. "Do you know why I'm smiling right now?", She asked me.
"Because you lived well," I said.
She smiled even wider and then she spent the next hour talking softly and passionately about her life and the causes of her present happiness. It was without a doubt one of the most enlightening and unforgettable hours of my life. Immediately afterwards, she took a nap – one of her last naps – and I wrote a diary of everything she talked about.
Although I have shared many of her insights and quotes with blog subscribers and course students in the past, today would have been my grandmother's 101st birthday, so I want to honor her again. And to do that, I will share an expanded version of the notes from the specific diary entry I wrote in her hospice room 11 years ago. That's her wisdom with my twist. I have done my best to convey what she told me on five inspiring points – the five reasons why Grandma actually smiled on her deathbed:
1. My grandmother never talked about doing her own thing.
One of my grandmother's favorite quotes was by Walt Disney: “Around here we don't look back so long. We continue to move forward, open new doors and do new things, because we are curious – and curiosity continues to lead us down new paths. "
It inspired my grandmother for decades, and it still inspires me every day to write and create – to move on to my next work, even when I catch myself judging my last work as" not good enough. " For example, it's been almost 14 years now that I publish new articles every week on marcandangel.com. Sometimes the ideas and words come easier than others, and there have been many times when I have felt that my work was under par.
“I thought this was a good article. Why don't people read and share? “Or I feel like I was looking through an article just to see it get 10,000+ shares on social media. No matter what results I have to make, my grandmother's wisdom always reminds me of a key point: As human beings, we are often terrible judges for our own work. We are just too self-critical to see the truth mostly.
And not only that, it is not our job to judge our own work. It is not our job to compare it with everyone else's work, or with how we thought others would understand it. It's no use doing it.
Instead, it is our job to create. Our job is to share what we have right now at this moment. Our job is to come as we are and give it our best shot, every day. So my grandmother lived her life. She was a real artist in that way.
Realize that there are people in almost every career field that make every day a work of art simply in the way they have mastered their craft. Yes, almost everyone is artists in some way. And each artist has a tendency to judge his own work. The important thing is not to let your self-esteem talk you out of doing your thing and sharing your creative and unique gifts with the world.
Just like Walt said, the key is to "keep moving forward."
2nd My grandmother remembered to live through the many challenges of life.
Unfortunately, most people give up their life stories way too soon. They come from school or college and want to change the world, want to build a business, want to make lots of money, want to start a family and live happily ever after. But they get into the middle of everything and find that it's much more difficult than they expected. They face many setbacks and they can see nothing further. So they wonder if their efforts are leading them forward. None of the trees behind them are getting smaller and none of the forwards are getting bigger, at least not fast enough. So they take it out on their family and friends, or themselves, and they go aimlessly for an easier path that doesn't meet them.
Don't be one of those people.
My grandmother had a Winston Churchill quote hanging in her home office that said, "Success stumbles from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."
And she strongly believed that good things will not come easily. "True strength consists of what you do on the third, fourth and fifth attempt," she told me. Take this to heart!
Never give up on your journey. Never give up. Never stop trying. Never sell or sell yourself short. Life is tough, but you are tougher. Your journey should not be easy, it should be worthwhile. To never fight is to never grow. It doesn't matter what happened or what you did; what matters is what you choose to do from here. Accept the circumstances, learn from them and take a step forward.
3rd My grandmother spent much of her life focusing on the present and appreciated the little things.
"Remember you do not know what the future will give. So your best way to live is to use the best and most positive use of the present," my grandmother said.
The universe always talks to us – sends little messages, causes accidental and serendipitous events, and reminds us to stop, to look around and believe in something special, something more.
But this particular is not anywhere else. That's right where you are.
Sometimes you have to stop searching and just BE. You are missing something else. You just lack the goodness in front of you.
Let me assure you, you can run around and try to do everything and travel around the world and always stay in touch, and work and party all night without sleep, but you could never do everything. You will always miss something, and therefore it will always seem like something amazing can happen somewhere else. Focusing on this is obviously meaningless.
Hustle, work hard and seek adventure, but do it with your eyes wide open and focused on your current step.
You have everything right now. The best thing in life is not anywhere else – it is right where you are right now. Notice it and make it memorable.
4th My grandmother had the peace of mind that will let go.
This item is a perfect successor to the previous one. Letting go is not about having the ability to forget the past – it's about having the wisdom to embrace the present.
The truth should be told, the more you talk about it, debate it, think about it, redo it, cross-analyze it, get paranoid about it, track it, respond to it, contend with it, complain about it, undead it, cry over it, kick it, insult it, gossip about it, ask for it, put it down or dissect its motives … it continues to fester and rot in your mind.
It's time to accept that it's over! It is dead! It's gone. It is done. It's time to bury it because it stinks up your life, and no one wants to be close to your rotten corpse of bad memories or your dilapidated attitude. Be the funeral director for your past life and bury that thing once and for all!
"Any difficult life situation can be an excuse for hopelessness or an opportunity for growth, depending on what you choose to do with it right now," my grandmother said. "We have to let go of the ideas, results and expectations that don't serve us."
Take a break when you have to. Realizing that it is courageous to hold on, but letting go and moving on is often what makes us stronger and happier in the end. Give yourself this gift so you can grow and smile again and again. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the chapter "Happiness" and "adversity" on 1,000 small things that happy, successful people do differently.)
5. My grandmother was well-read and incredibly generous with her knowledge.
My grandmother's personal heroes were educated visionaries and dreams – the beautiful people among us who invest in themselves and then use what they have learned to make the world a better place than when they found it, whether on small ways or huge. Some succeed, others fail, most have mixed results, but it is the effort itself that is heroic, as she saw it. Win or lose, my grandmother admired those who intelligently fight for the greater good. And I couldn't agree with her feeling anymore.
Don't stop learning. Do not stop investing in yourself. Study. Read. Wasting books. Collaborate with people, including those who think differently. Ask questions. Listen carefully. And not just growing in knowledge. Be a person who gives back. Use what you learn to make a difference.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: "The purpose of life is not just to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honest, to be compassionate, to make it make a difference that you have lived and lived well. "
I want to leave you with a poem by Bessie Anderson Stanley that my grandmother used to hang on the side of the refrigerator when I was growing up. I think it perfectly embodies this message in this post and the overall reason why my grandmother smiles:
"He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved a lot;
pure women, respect for intelligent men and the love of toddlers;
Who has filled his niche and completed his task;
Who has never lacked appreciation for the beauty of the earth or failed to express it;
Who has left the world better than he found it,
Whether an improved poppy, a perfect poem or a saved soul;
Who has always been looking for the best in others and giving them the best he had;
Whose life was an inspiration;
What memory is a loss. "
Your turn …
If you know it, Angel and I will be happy to hear from YOU.
Which point mentioned above resonates most with you today, and why?
What more do you want to be able to smile about down the road?
Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
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