As Good As It Gets
by Irwin Lengel
Let’s face it – each of us only get one life to live and so if there is anything we should have learned – especially those of us now labeled “old geezers” it is that it is important that we not waste it. And how do we do that, you ask? Well, for one thing – doing whatever is necessary to make each day enjoyable so that we look forward with a positive feeling about the next day is a good place to start.
I can already hear the response many of you are thinking about – “Well, how are we to do that?” First and foremost is to wake up with the right mindset. Secondly would be to accept where you are at this point in your life, meaning have an attitude of gratitude about it. Third would be to “pay it forward”. How many of you have seen the 2000 movie entitled: “Pay it Forward?” Having been given an assignment by his social studies teacher to think of an idea to change the world for the better and then put it into action, the student creates a plan for “paying forward” favors. Subsequently this plan not only affects the life of his struggling single mother, but he sets in motion an unprecedented wave of human kindness which, unbeknownst to him, has blossomed into a profound national phenomenon.
Just think how the world would be if we all woke up with that same strategy? My guess is that were we to look at each day in such a fashion, we would all be looking forward to each day, no question.
One of the first things we should remember is that this day only happens once and the reason I say that is – once we recognize this important fact – it should serve as a reminder that we should make the most of this day, be as positive as we can because it will never come around again. Think about it – when today is the only day you have to deal with and the fact that it is never going to occur again, well, what better opportunity to make it the best day ever. Don’t think about what happened yesterday or what might or might not happen tomorrow. Just think about today and what you are going to do to make it as good as it gets.
Reminding yourself that this day only happens once should be the initiative you need to make the most of this day and well, use it to eliminate whatever stress you might have wanted to carry over from yesterday. Knowing that this day is never going to happen again should enable each of us to live each day as though it is a separate life.
We should begin each day seeing the value in life’s simple pleasures. Okay, so we are not rich and we all see the gap between the rich and the poor get wider and wider. But stop and think about that fact for a moment. Do you really think that those individuals that are rich are enjoying their days more than we are? What are life’s simple pleasures? Cuddling with your kids or your pet? Enjoying a hot cup of cocoa on a dreary rainy day just sitting watching the rain drops fall? Having your evening meal with your entire family or quite possibly friends while sitting around the dining table? Some might chalk such activities up as to nothing spectacular when in fact when it gets right down to it, such events are just about everything. In reality it is moments such as these that make life worth living.
One of the things I have learned over the years and more so since we retired (at times I wish that I would have learned these things earlier in my career but as is the point of this article – don’t look back) is that each of us should take the time to take care of ourselves. And by that I mean we should take the time to laugh and laugh at ourselves. Learning to not take anything too seriously enables us to lighten up and believe it or not – life does become more enjoyable. One secret to a happy life is to try and find something each and every day to laugh at and I don’t mean just any laugh. Laugh like you’re a five-year-old who can laugh at the rubber ducky in the bathtub every time it pops up when you try to sink it. Can someone say “Rubber ducky!”
Think about that for a moment. We need to laugh at ourselves more often. Whenever we do something silly or stupid, stop for a moment and just bust out laughing. After all, we know deep down in our hearts we’d laugh at our friends if something silly or stupid happened to them. Why should we be any different? By laughing at ourselves we are saying: “Hey, it’s no big deal” and therefore we will not stress about it. After all, what is the point in worrying? Nothing is going to change – is it?
It took me a long time to really think about the phrase: “There’s no use crying over spilled milk?” and what it means. The truth of the matter is that we should not sweat it or to coin another cliché: "Don't sweat the small stuff!" After all, getting back to the spilled milk phrase – is it worth anything to get upset about a bottle that spilled its contents all over the table? Once it happens – it is out of our control and thus not worth getting upset about. Just some other small stuff.
Bottom line to this whole post is that the more we realize that our time is precious, especially for those of us already retired, coupled with the fact that it is just our one life we are living, we should do our best to make it the best story we will ever be a part of. I know, you are asking yourselves – but what about the bad stuff – well that brings me to yet another cliché I try not to use or refer to, however, in this case – it seems appropriate - @#$%^& happens. But all that does is make our story more interesting.
Until next time!