Making the Most of Every Day

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by Jim Cooper, LCSW – Education & Resource Manager, Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region 

So, what’s the secret for a happy, productive life? We all want success and fulfillment and yet it so often eludes us. Maybe we’re looking in the wrong places or overlooking some important ideas that will help us get back to the basics of managing our lives better on a daily basis.

You see, life has a way of controlling us rather than us taking control of it. If I can’t control my world, I can certainly make some decisions about the way I respond to what happens to me and around me. Effective life management skills don’t happen by accident. They must be identified and they need to be practiced on a daily basis.

My challenge is the same as yours and that is to “Make the Most of Every Day.” It doesn’t require me to have the most money or the best health. Thankfully, it doesn’t even require me to be beautiful. It does however, require me to be intentional with the way I choose to live. Please join me in following these 12 ingredients in your recipe for a happy, healthy life:

Lift your head up off the pillow in the morning with new awareness. Take 2 minutes to stretch, breathe and gather your thoughts. You’ll be safer, smarter and taller before you even get out of bed.

Look at the day ahead. If you wake up with stinkin’ thinkin’, then pause and adjust your attitude. Your expectations play a large part in your success. Be realistic. Make lists. Do the worst first. Plan intermittent breaks and rewards.

Leave the past behind. Learn from it, but decide to move forward. It made you who you are today. Be less of a multi-tasker, be all you can be in the present.

No one can go back and make a brand new start but anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending. – Carl Bard

Let it go. Picture water on a duck’s back. Let insults, issues and little irritations bounce off you. Let go and Let God, if I might suggest.

Don’t cry that it’s over. Smile because it happened. – Dr. Seuss

Live with purpose and passion. Recommit to make a difference in the world around you. If your passion has faded and you’re uncertain about your purpose, search your heart and soul and reignite or adopt new ones. It will make a world of difference.

Love someone or something in a new and/or surprising way and watch what happens. Forgive wrongs. Be thoughtful in new ways. Don’t just think nice thoughts. Say nice words. Be the first person to apologize. Don’t wait…initiate.

Laugh harder and laugh more often: Be a kid again. Watch feel good movies and dance to good music. Being funny takes practice but you can actually get better at it if you want to. Practice and pretty soon, the new you will shine through.

Learn something new: About yourself or about someone you care about. Renew a hobby. Learn a new skill. If stress is killing you then learn to handle it differently:

Follow the ABCs: Alter it. Build your resistance. Change your perception.

Lean on healthy support systems: your best friend or being a friend, exercise, family, your doctor, hospice, grief groups, recovery Groups, your faith, a counselor, a minister, and past successes.

Limits are essential: Make fewer commitments. Limit the demands on you. Limit food. Limit stress. Limit caffeine after 2:00 pm. Limit alcohol use. Limit self defeating thoughts. Limit toxic people.

Legacy Living– How you live today will determine your legacy tomorrow. You’re still writing your story. Make this a great chapter! What’s involved in a legacy? Values….Morals….Who you are….Who you were….Who you strive to be….Friendships….Memories….It’s your heart and soul, so make sure your day matches and reflects who you want to be.

Lay down for restorative rest: Breaking news… your brain works hardest at night to cleanse, categorize, rebuild and reinforce itself, just like the body. Relax. Journal. Take a bath. Talk. Watch TV. Make a list of things you need to remember so you don’t have to worry about them all night long. You worked hard today. Be sure you rest well. You deserve it.

This life is too important to leave it to chance or to accept routine and satisfactory as good enough. Take control of life before it takes control of you. Push on toward the prize of a life well lived.

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank

Dr. Seuss said it this way: “Today you are you. That is truer than true. There is no one alive, who is you-er than you.” Be the BEST YOU you can possibly be by MAKING the MOST of EVERY DAY!

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