As parents of either young children, or already grown adults, each of us should take a moment to think what advice and words of wisdom would we choose to share with them, and possibly even our grandchildren, if today were to be our last day on earth?
It was just recently, as my son turned 50, that I realized that I needed to try to encapsulate the best advice I could give him, as part of his inheritance, since the length of our days is not guaranteed. Because an inheritance is not just a home and a bank account. The best thing we can leave our kids and grandkids are the lessons, habits, counsel and courses of action which worked to get us through our darkest times. All the things which strengthened, encouraged and moved us forward are the best treasures and greatest endowment that we can pass on to our children once they can no longer speak to us.
Of course, my gems of advice are likely very different from others, but there’s no time like the present to reflect on the very helpful and useful tips which have brought you satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment and have proven to work, especially during challenging or difficult times.
Who amongst us doesn’t want to prevent our children and grandchildren from having to suffer or go through tough lessons which we, as more seasoned and experienced parents and grandparents, have already endured and come out the other side?
So, I took the opportunity of this milestone birthday to memorialize what I thought was most important. Although this is, by no means, an exhaustive list, I believe it captures so much of the things with which we all struggle. Maybe you’ll think they’re also worth passing on.
- Always put God first in all you do – which means to acknowledge him daily, pray often, believe that He is always there, watching over you and being actively involved in your life, having your best interest at heart. And that even when you can’t necessarily see the results of His working on your behalf, never to doubt that He is!
- Remember that family is a gift, treat them as if it’s the last day you’re going to be with them, because, you know that an abundance of days with them is not a guarantee. Enjoy them and do your best to spend quality time with them.
- Invest in others. Be their biggest fans. Make sure they know you’re rooting for them, and especially do this with your kids. There’s nothing greater in life than knowing that your parents believe in and are proud of you as they cheer you on!
- Seek the advice of those with a proven track record, those who have made it to the finish line successfully and honorably. They know something that the rest of us don’t, and listening to them may help your own journey.
- Always be humble about what you’ve achieved, what you’ve been given and what you know, because that humility or lack of it will come through in some way. It will either inspire others or put them off. Remember that all you’ve been able to amass, acquire or achieve has been by God’s grace anyway!
- Weigh up everything. Consider pitfalls, visible signs along the way meant to warn you of impending danger, and do all you can to prudently prepare for lurking danger, because in many cases, you will be warned in some way.
- When you’re feeling down, knocked around and abused, remember that there are at least five people, and probably more, who would be devastated if anything were to happen to you. You mean the world to them, and their world would literally be shaken to the core without you.
- Serve others! In that service, you will find great joy and purpose, knowing that you are able to bless those who have less than you. It is the essence of real humanity and caring and the reason so many people are dissatisfied and unfulfilled these days, because they have stopped doing that.
- Never stop being creative and looking for outlets to release the wonderful abilities with which you have been endowed! They will be meaningful ways to appreciate your own skills and to realize your talent.
- Compliment others frequently. In fact, don’t let a day go by without making sure that you have generously complimented at least 2-3 people. For them, it will make their day, and for you, it will affirm that you acknowledge assets of others which should not go unnoticed.
- Keep fit and strong. Good health is one of your greatest assets. Without it, you become limited in what you’re able to accomplish and do – both for yourself and others. So don’t neglect walking, exercising and being active as often as possible.
- Remember people’s birthdays, special occasions and days of mourning. It will mean so much to them, and, in it, they will see a heart that cares and is not self-absorbed or focused on your own needs.
- Always be generous, because it will come back to you in ways and at times when you least expect it. Pick up a tab, donate your time, your knowledge and your help. One day you may need it from others, and they are not likely to forget the ways in which you came to make their load easier.
- Be cheerful, light-hearted, good-humored and easy to be around. Your enjoyable temperament will be infectious and rub off on others who take note of what a pleasure it is to be in your company.
As times get tougher and stress levels rise, life can be so much more than just bearable if you live by these tips which, sadly, took us more years to perfect than what they should have. When all is said and done, if these words can be of value to my family and friends, I will have felt that I left behind something a bit more useful than a few good recipes and some interesting stories. Let’s live the best life we can!
There is probably so much more I could add to this list, but if you succeed in doing all of these, there is no doubt that you will have a happy, fulfilled and blessed life which will be the envy of others. You are already doing so many of them, and that is why, no matter what life throws your way, you are an example of a successful, capable and wonderful man to whom I gave birth. I, too, couldn’t be prouder of you than I am on this day.