When you’re gasping your last breath, what will you be thinking about?
By Linda Orlando
For some people, every day is an adventure filled with limitless possibilities. For some, each day brings the security of a regular routine and familiar activities. And for others, the daily grind is not much to look forward to. But no matter what each day promises to bring, when you wake up in the morning there is another day to anticipate. Unfortunately, that won’t always be the case.
When faced with the fact that you have only a handful of tomorrows left to plan for, and you don’t have a reason to think about future plans, your thoughts will naturally turn to your past. Will they be pleasant thoughts of satisfaction and reward, or will they be regrets? You have no way of knowing when you will breathe your last breath, but you do know without a doubt that there’s no way to avoid it. So now is the time to start planning if you want your final thoughts to be pleasant ones. Here are five words that can help you.
Accomplish. When someone asks, “What have you accomplished in your life?” you may naturally think of the obvious answers-you earned a college degree, secured a good job, raised a family, served in the military, met challenges, or overcame obstacles. Although those are certainly noteworthy accomplishments, there are plenty of other accomplishments that would be just as worthwhile. Research and map out your family tree as far back as you can go. Establish an after-school program for kids and enlist volunteers to help. Conquer a fear. Learn to do something you’ve always thought about doing.
Create. Everyone in the world has the ability to create something, and you don’t have to be an expert. Paint a painting, compose a song, write a short story, or make a sculpture out of toothpicks. Carve a flute from a piece of wood. Build a birdhouse, knit a scarf, plant a garden, or just fill a notebook with elaborate doodles. Don’t let criticism deter you; pursue your creative impulses for your own satisfaction and reward.
Inspire. Tutor a student and encourage them to reach for the stars academically. Speak kindly of others and offer support to those who are suffering or struggling to overcome challenges. Be a mentor to a young person. Volunteer to work with boy scouts, girl scouts, youth groups, or boys’ and girls’ clubs. When others seek your advice, be a good listener and offer them well-considered and useful suggestions. Inspire your friends and co-workers by being a living example of honesty, dependability, ethics, kindness, compassion, and empathy.
Improve. Leave the world-or at least your little part of the world-in better shape than you found it. Improve your community by helping to build churches, playgrounds, and houses for neighbors in need. Volunteer at a homeless shelter and offer a hand up by helping homeless people find jobs and improve their lives. Help out with community cleanup projects or “adopt a highway” endeavors. Write letters to elected officials to support needed legislation or regulation.
Love. If you don’t have a fortune to bequeath in a will, you can leave behind a legacy of memories of your love for others. Love your friends and family and make sure they know it by how you treat them. Remember birthdays, celebrate when others have good news, and congratulate people for a job well done. Love your neighbors by doing unexpected favors for them. Love your dog, your cat, your hamster, or your goldfish. Showing your love not only enriches the lives of the recipients, it also gives your life meaning and purpose.
Obviously these suggestions won’t work for everyone, but they are a springboard for you to come up with your own game plan. You don’t need a lot of money, experience, intelligence, or importance to come up with good ideas. Just start with these five words-accomplish, create, inspire, improve, and love-and before you know it you’ll have created a mental scrapbook of lovely remembrances to bring you peace and contentment as you say goodbye to a life well-lived.
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