It's Sunday and there is a lot of coverage of Nelson Mandela's life and death in memorial and tribute. It's always touching to watch these and for the generations just coming of age, I suspect educational. But, these memorials, like funerals, always make me sad even though I understand that for survivors they are part of the grieving process. Life is much too short even if you live to 95. Please do not wait until the people important to you have died to let them know how wonderful they are, how much they mean to you and have impacted your life - because they won't be able to hear you. Write a letter of appreciation, introduce them to someone, become their fan. Everyone needs fans. Be someone's fan - and let them know while they are alive. And they should be the people you know in real life, they do not have to be global figures. Love those around you and make them feel larger than life.
Do more of what makes you happy as long as it's not harmful to your body, your finances, the environment, or other living beings. When our lives are muddied up with drama, unimportant or minutiae (like incessant house cleaning or other XYZ perfectionism that really have no meaning) we miss life's simple pleasures. It's not money or possessions that make most of us the happiest. It's appreciation of nature, meaningful human relationships, savoring a moment. When we fill our lives with 'fillers' we go through the motions but we don't truly live.
Create and live your legacy now. Choose to be a taker or a giver in life. You have heard about paying it forward. I say - give to live. Set time aside to give to others. Though financial support is necessary, I don't believe it's enough for our wellbeing. Sending the contribution helps the organization fiscally, and perhaps gets you a tax deduction - but you don't reap the full benefit clicking Paypal (but I do love it). When you personally reach out and touch someone's life or help to make your community, and therefore our world, a better place is when you receive far more than you give. Every step each of us take adds to the cumulative advancement of quality of life - for ourselves and others. Find your passion in volunteerism. When you want to find time you will find it. And by all means, make the financial contribution too.
Take care of yourself. We should be as healthy as possible to live the best life possible. Putting off preventive physical and mental health screenings, or leaving concerns undiagnosed or untreated, generally have very unfortunate consequences that provide less than optimal experience. Health care isn't perfect, but everyday we are alive it is better than the day before - the talented people who work in STEM occupations gift us with their innovations - and we should always accept gifts that could positively impact the quality and longevity of our lives. If you find yourself without healthcare insurance, call social service agencies in your area and visit free health, mental health and dental clinics. There is usually community help available and for very serious conditions there are public welfare and social security disability.
Respect human diversity. We are like snowflakes. Think of the estimated 108 billion of people who have ever lived, no two have ever been exactly the same - not even identical twins have the same thoughts, intellect, taste, goals, upbringing, advantage, or accomplishments. There is no one better than you and that is a 360 statement. We are all different, and yet we all share the same origins of life. Diversity of genetics, experience, thought, choice, health - we all do the best we can with the random hand we are dealt. Live with compassion and understanding for others. It's never truly possible to walk in the shoes of another. Be supportive of those who have it tougher than you do and champion the success of others. That's a 360 concept too and hopefully if we all practice this we'll all find ourselves on the receiving end of support and encouragement too. We all need it.
Watch your words. Susan Boyle's beautiful voice has been often overshadowed by rude comments about how odd she is. Today she announced that she has been diagnosed with Asperger's, a form of Autism. As reported on cnn.com, "Boyle, 52, said she hoped revealing her Asperger's diagnosis will lead people to understand and treat her better. She said it was important for her to have a support team." The 30 students in the work readiness program I direct have intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism. I know the life story of each of them. They have all been bullied throughout their lives for being different, perceived as being less by others. Many come from a lifetime in the system, abandoned, group homes since childhood, economic disempowerment, physical and mental health challenges. They are my role models, they show me just how strong and persevering one can be when she wants to achieve. Our jealousy, tribalistic ways, greed, and overly competitive ways are not healthy ways. Let's be kinder and gentler and have more compassion. Lets be happy for others. Let's help those who we can. Our lives will be richer for it.
Think about what you eat. Consider where your food comes from. Think about how other animals suffer for your dinner, wardrobe and maybe even your car seats. Consider cutting down on and working toward eliminating animal products from your lifestyle. A plant based diet is delicious, nutritious and compassionate. Find more information here on balanced plant based nutrition and health benefits, and reasons why respecting the lives of other animals is important here, along with a starter guide if you are open minded to living a more compassionate life. My life changed for the better 30+ years ago when I chose to not consume animals - I hope you'll consider it too and reap the benefits.
Adopt a curious nature and skeptical position to find out the 5 W's and an H about anything that sounds even remotely suspect or illogical. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.. like when you don't really want to know how many calories are in a sweet indulgence. But when it comes to the important things in life, isn't it better to be grounded in reason and logic and not live in a fairy tale not backed by Disney?
Learn another language and open new doors. Online translators have made it much easier to read the news from other countries, translate email and websites. But there is nothing like sharing a conversation, reading a good book or enjoying musical lyrics about perspective and experience of a different tradition not in your own language. Foreign films without subtitles are liberating and marvelous without the interpreter as the middleman too.
Catalog your memories. Write them, dictate or draw them. Pull out your old photos and digitize them, blog or scrapbook your life for future generations. You are interesting and you have a story to tell. You are part of the collective experience of humanity future generations can benefit from.
What's your thought on living a good life?