For those readers who dislike country music, it probably gets old that I find so much of my material here, but this line from one of Tim McGraw’s biggest songs always gets to me. He sings about a man who is diagnosed with a terminal illness and uses the opportunity to do things he would never have done – go skydiving, go rocky mountain climbing, and sit on a raging bull for 2.7 seconds. He says that he hopes everyone gets the chance to “live like you were dyin’.”
Why does it take a significant life event to break our hold on what we “have to do” and get us to focus on what we’d “love to do”? I know for many people it’s the realities – we have to make a living, we have commitments, we can’t abandon the responsibilities staring us in the face each day. Only when a person finds that their life might be over do they stop caring or worrying about the bills to be paid, the retirement account to be funded and the next week’s commitments.
It’s not possible for everyone to drop what they are doing and go skydiving or bull riding. But one of the other lines in the song talks about how he “gave forgiveness” he’d been denying. How he “spoke sweeter” and “became a friend a friend would like to have.” These are the opportunities that are available to us no matter what else is happening in our lives.
We have such an opportunity each and every day to pick our head up from whatever we might think is “critical” in the moment and focus our attention on something “sweeter,” or a friend who needs us, or something that we enjoy.
A client of mine is out of work right now. He was let go, quite unexpectedly and after being told how “valuable” he was, from a job that he truly loved and looked forward to every day. He was understandably bitter and depressed. His self-talk was very self-doubting and negative. One of the things we worked on, in addition to redoing his resume and his LinkedIn profile, was the importance of finding opportunities for “fun” and for being with others. As he got out more often – even just to walk the dog – and interacted with people he cared about, he found his priorities shifting. “Losing my job isn’t the end of the world, there are other gifts in my life” was his statement.
Why is it that we get so buried in what’s wrong? Why do we use our precious time – the one thing we can never make more of – indulging in what makes us unhappy? Why do we rush through the day with only the next commitment in front of us?
I know people who seem to have everything in life and yet they are miserably unhappy. Rather than “live like they were dyin’” and use it as an opportunity to break free of negativity, they approach life as if they were dyin’ and it was a miserable experience! If you can get up in the morning and face the day, you already have been given a gift. If you can read this blog, you have been given a gift. If you have the power of your mind to understand the concepts here and have a choice about whether you want to use them or not, you have been given a gift.
Commit this week to find your gifts and to share them with others. Pretend it is your last week and you want the memory of how you treated someone to be what’s left with them. When we think about what we want on our tombstone – if that were imminent – we will almost always make a different choice than if we think we have tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day to do whatever we need to do. Don’t wait until tomorrow. You know what would make the difference in your life. Choose to do it today.