Will you be satisfied when you look back?

June 10, 2017

From a post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this thought provoking quote, which begs the question that is today’s headline. “To be able to look back upon one’s past life with satisfaction is to live twice.”  (Lord Acton)

The obvious question is to assess what you will see when you look back over your life and whether you will be satisfied with what you see. One must start with an understanding of the term satisfaction. The dictionary defines it as a noun that means – fulfillment of one’s wishes, expectations, or needs, or the pleasure derived from this. Youbored can easily substitute words like hopes, goals or dreams into the definition. There will always be things that you might wish had gone differently in your life and maybe a few things (let’s hope just a few) for which you have regrets; however, if you can look back over your life and be pleased with what you see, then it was a life well lived.

If you ask older people what they are most proud of or satisfied with in their lives you most often might get a reply that points to having successfully raised their children.  A long and loving marriage is also a very common answer. Some might point to success and achievement in the business world, but that is seldom the measure that the common man holds his life up to, in order to measure his satisfaction with his life. Some might recall the satisfaction of having given service to help others and some might point to their relationship with God and its impact on their lives.

I believe that the search for satisfying moments in your life will yield many more instances of things that involved other people than occasions when you acquired some great-jobobject of your desire – a new car or a boat or a house. True satisfaction come from sharing moments and events and achievements with others. It is not necessarily a moment of personal recognition but more one of shared joy, of shared accomplishment and of shared satisfaction.

You really don’t have to wait until you are old to look back over your life so far and seek out those moments of satisfaction in your life. Relive those moments and let them help you set your priorities for the future. Let those moments help you realize that it is seldom the “me” things in life that are truly satisfying; it is the “we” times that make you the happiest. Whether they are the intimate moments shared with a loved one or the praying-togethergroup happiness of a shared effort, they will help you realize that it’s not “all about me”, it’s about working with and serving the needs of others that creates memorable and satisfying events in our lives.

So, I ask the question that makes up the headline above – “Will you be satisfied when you look back at your life?” The good news is that there is still time to change the ending, still time to refocus your life on the really important things – the people in it – and still time to make memories that you can look back on with satisfaction.

I’ll end today’s post  with a little song that talks about the alternative – I can’t get no satisfaction by the Rolling Stones. Don’t be dissatisfied with your life when you look back.

Grab life by the tail

March 26, 2015

“The person who grabs the cat by the tail and holds the cat upside down for twenty seconds gets a hundred times more information about that experience than one who may have read about it in a book.” –  (Mark Twain) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

If Mark Twain were alive today he might have said that on his Facebook page and then catthe SPCA would be all over him for espousing animal cruelty. What he was saying, of course, is that really experiencing life is much more interesting and educational than just reading about it. Twain might likely also hate Facebook, Twitter and most of the rest of what passes for living today. Twain would likely be shouting at those that he found with heads down and eyes focused upon their tiny screens – Grab life by the tail!

There are always distractions that tend to keep us from experiencing life. Sometimes there are also fears or concerns that cause us to avoid life, or at least those things in life that scare us. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and go for it. I enjoy the TV show The Voice, not only because it is good entertainment, but because it shows us little vignettes of people doing just that – overcoming their fears and getting up and performing before audiences that most have never been in front of before. That is usually one of the big things that the coaches must work on with the performers. In fact, most are not performers; they’re just people who sing very well. Most have some experience singing in small venues – churches or local bars – but few have any real stage experience before appearing on this show. On The Voice they get their chance to grab life by the tail.

So, what are you doing with your life? Are you taking every opportunity to share it with those that you love, or do you sacrifice that for what you think is necessary to get aheadfirst bicycle ride and earn more money? Are you there rooting for your kids at the games and plays and concerts, or apologizing later for having missed another important day in their lives? Are you taking the time for a hug and a kiss with your significant other each day or coming home late, after the lights are all out and wishing that someone had stayed up to see if you made it home? Are you letting your life partner know what you need and want from them or just going to bed angry that they can’t figure it out?  Maybe you are letting life slip away, instead you should  grab life by the tail.

Notice, if you will, that that the little phrase, “grab life by the tail” is a very active phrase. kid jumping in poolIt is not passive, It does not say “watch life go bye.” It does not advise you to, “allow life to happen.” Twain was not a passive fellow. He lived life with gusto and his advice to others is to do the same. The picture that comes to mind when one grabs a cat by the tail and lifts it in the air is not one of a passive cat, which just hangs there and accepts the situation.  Cat’s aren’t like that and one can imagine a very active (perhaps even frantic) scene, in which there are many experiences to be gained and stories to be told in later years. Life needs to be like that. You need to be making stories today that you’ll enjoy retelling for years. Grab life by the tail.

Does this mean that you should do stupid things like you might see on “reality” TV shows? No! It means not avoiding doing things or trying things because you are stopped by Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD). Living a timid life that is constrained by FUD is life in a self-imposed prison. So, rather than allowing life to happen around you, get out and make life happen in front of you. Start today. Grab life by the tail!

Eleven Hints for Life – 11 of 11

March 20, 2014

11. Love begins with a smile, grows with a kiss, ends with a tear. When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so that when you die, you’re the one smiling and everyone around you is crying. – Unknown

babyWow, this little hint certainly covers a lot of ground – from birth to death – and in between has time to witness the beginning and end of a relationship.

Interestingly, it harkens back to tip # 6 about smiles and smiling. I think it also borrows from tip # 7, since you get to the end of life with a smile, not by holding back; but, rather by doing. The smile on your face is because you don’t have a bucket list, you have a list of things accomplished in life.

I suspect that the Irish have the right idea about funerals in their concept of a wake – a celebration of the life of the funeraldeceased. After all, that person is now in the only place where he/she will live forever – in our memories.  So, why not celebrate those memories and have a good laugh about those times, rather than a tear.

I would add to the advice of our hint some of these quotes –

“There isn’t so much to be afraid of, out there. I can remember thinking it was funny to find that out, on the last night of my life; I’d spent the rest of it being afraid of everything.”

― Nick Hornby

“When the time comes for you to leave this earth, if it doesn’t become a lesser place with your absence, then you have wasted your life.”

― Shaun Hick

So, this hint is really more about advice to the living than end-game advice to the dying.  Don’t waste your life and don’t be afraid of everything. Remember that a life given in service to others is one that will never be forgotten. Having said that, it is important to note that a life given in service does not always mean that you have to drop everything, sell everything and abandon everything and run off to some foreign land to serve soup to the poor. Sometimes we get hung caringup on what how we can serve others or how much. We get worried that our little daily acts of service don’t each have much impact. I would offer this quote –

“The goodness of the world in which we live is the accumulated goodness of many small and seemingly inconsequential acts.” ― Gorden B Hinckley

Do what you can, where you can and when you can to serve the needs of others. Some days that might involve doing big things and on others it might just mean making a kind gesture to someone who just needs encouragement. The idea is to get out of your self-centered mode of living and recognize and act upon the needs of those around you.

Finally, here’s my own personal Bonus Hint – Hint # 12

For a long and happy life, exercise three things daily – your body, your mind and your faith. Have a great life!