Archive for October, 2012

Gratitude – things can’t make you happy, only you can do that.

October 22, 2012

Out of the blue I had an phone call from an old friend last week – we hadn’t seen each other for 10+ years. Unfortunately the call was to let me know about a mutual friend, an old flat mate,  who had been diagnosed with cancer some time ago and didn’t have long to live. As you can imagine it was quite a distressing phone call and I committed to make contact with the sick friend and see her asap.

Of course we made all the excuses – sorry for not calling for so long, I meant to phone – all those pathetic excuses that we use when we realise that life has galloped away and many of the people we had such strong friendships with years ago are still around just doing their thing. And we are busy doing our thing, and the months and years fly by.

We move in different networks, live in different cities, but the strong connection is still there. The foundation of trust that was built thirty years ago when our lives were very different. And it’s amazing how much you can recall of the “old days.” The very sad thing is that as mutual friend’s names came up again and again, so many of them had died or had tragic lives.

Little did we know in our ’20s what lay ahead. Young, naive, almost gullible at times, but open to ideas, experiences, fun, friendships and socialising of course.  And now as one of the “old gang” is dying it makes us all realise just how vulnerable we as baby boomers are. It is our friend this time, who might it be next time?

When I did visit my dying friend, we talked about the ‘old days’ in the ’70s and ’80s when we worked together at one stage, looked at some old photos and laughed as we tried to remember who some of these people in the photo even were. My friend had worked at the one organisation for 20+ years and recalled that it was the best time of her life.

I was quite surprised to hear that and even more suprised when she asked me, “was that the best time of your life too?”

“No, it wasn’t.  Acutally I am living my best life now. It’s certainly not perfect, but I am healthy, happy and enjoy my life. It’s great. There is certainly room for improvement, but I love my life.” She asked what was so great about it?

And I described that morning to her – I woke early, walked to the beach, waited for the sun to rise – a huge red ball in the morning sky, saw eight whales heading south, a couple of them playing along the way. Chatted to a few friends, and strangers – whale watching has a way of uniting total strangers as they watch the whales do their thing. And one breached right in front of me – now that is a sight to behold. I read the weekend papers, had breakfast and just had a relaxing morning.

To be honest I think my friend thought I sounded pretty boring – but over the years, what I have learned is that things can’t make you happy – only you can do that. And if you are not living your best life – only you can change that.

I do wish I could wave a magic wand and take my friend’s pain and illness away. But reconnecting with this group of long time friends, made me realise more than ever how precious life is. And  how grateful I am to have choices every day how I want my life to be. Sometimes there are tough decisions to be made and I try not to shy away from them too much. I am responsible for everything in my life – the good and the bad.  Yes there are a million things I would change if I had my time over, different choices I would have made for sure. But the present is all there is, right here, right now.

I don’t ever want to look back at years of my life and say that was my best life. I like to thing that I can create my best life every day.

What about you? Is there a time in your life that you think was better than today? I’m not talking about that fantastic holiday you had last year, or the day you won that huge contract. I’m talking about a length of time – months or years that you thought was better than the present. What would have to change for you to think you were living your best life today? Don’t get me wrong, I have bad days, I had a couple of really crappy ones last week, but you move on, you make decisions and you get back on the bike.

I saw a great bumper sticker today – it said – “expect a miracle”. What miracle are you expecting?

My advice would be don’t wait for the miracle, it might happen, and it might not. While you are waiting, why not start by being grateful for what do you have?

This year, at the end of each day,  I started writing down 3 things I am grateful for. Even on the bad days, I am still grateful for the lessons.

Happy networking until next time.

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