What are the elements of a great life? Is it plenty of money? An impressive car? Loads of friends? How about the satisfying feeling you get after finishing off a gourmet meal at a five-star restaurant? Of course, the answer to this question is different for everyone. For some, a great life might include simplicity, like a quiet afternoon with one of your grandchildren. Whatever it means for you, this is certainly a question worth pondering.
May I suggest beginning the contemplation by writing a great story and then setting out to live that story. To help you get started I would like to share one man’s thoughts on how to live a great life. Mark Twain once said, “Let us live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.” Twain was certainly known for his folksy one-liners, but he was also remembered as a person of wisdom and common sense. Here are a few of his other musings on living a great life:
“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.”
Yes, it’s true. To live an amazing, authentic life you need to be comfortable in your own skin. Don’t let people define you. Appreciate who you are, a unique individual with skills and talents that can be shared with others, so they may improve or enjoy their lives. If you can sing then sing, good at math then mentor or, if you enjoy entertaining, throw a get-together. Gathering others for an evening of fellowship, food, and fun lifts everyone’s spirits.
“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”
Life is too short to hold on to a real or perceived offending word or action. Who is suffering from your anger? Certainly you. More than likely, the offender has moved on to a new target. Those little self-talks you replay in your head covering what you would say to that person are creating stress and anxiety and preventing you from achieving maximum enjoyment.
“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
Don’t let how you feel about your age prevent you from learning a new skill, starting a new activity or pursuing a new relationship. Building additional skills or chasing down a hobby that interests you is an excellent method for keeping the mind sharp and healthy. Building added relationships will improve your mood and overall levels of happiness.
“Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.”
Have fun! Get together with the guys and have a beer, play cards or talk sports and trash talk each other. Have a laugh. Gather with the sisterhood and share. Take a day and jump in the car with friends and head out in a general direction but with no specific idea of what you will do. Maybe drag out your camera (yes, the real one you have and not used for a while instead of your phone) and create a pictorial history of your day. Get creative.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Don’t wait until the right moment or the perfect time, start today.
An interesting way to begin this exercise is to write your obituary. Sounds a bit morbid but it can provide insight. What do you want others to say about you? How would you like to be remembered? What’s the great story you would like told?
Enjoy your journey!
Gary A. Weuve, CFP®
Founder and CEO
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