Words to live by

I was glad to see the end of 2016. It was a particularly challenging year for me, and for many others I believe. It was a year that started with the unexpected passing of my ex-wife Debra, and went on to include the deaths of a number of family members and friends.

There was a time when mortality was not frequent on my mind, when I believed that tragedies happen to other people. But I’ve discovered that I am ‘other people’. The realisation that our time in this world is so limited and unpredictable has shaken me to the core and changed my views on life.

So to start the new year, I’d like to share some of my thoughts with you. They are simply my opinions, but I hope they’ll provoke and challenge you. My wish for all of us in 2017 is that we realise what is truly important in life, what our priorities are, and how we plan to live by them.

Live by good principles

I’m not a religious person and I rely on the fact that what is real is the life I have now. But good life principles are important to me, and I’m happy to live by them, regardless of the source.

Laugh more
I believe that humour is incredibly important, but I find that too few people seek it in their own lives. How often do you laugh, whether on your own or with friends? As Sri Chinmoy said, ‘Humour lightens the mind and gladdens the heart’.

Be discerning
Choose the company you keep wisely as it will affect your state of mind, positively or negatively. When I hear that someone has fallen in with the wrong crowd, the reality is that that person now also makes up that crowd. You are defined by the company you keep.

Take responsibility
Taking responsibility for your life and your journey requires that you confront adversities head on, rather than developing a victim mentality. Nietzsche was right when he said ‘That which does not kill us, makes us stronger’.

Be a pragmatic optimist
To be content in life, it helps to have a pragmatic optimistic mindset. I must stress the ‘pragmatic’ though, because while developing an optimistic mindset is a wonderful start, there must be a follow through on these beliefs.

See the beauty in life
I have been thrown onto a path not of my choosing, with the loss of my daughter. While it is an extremely painful and difficult path, I have chosen to see the beauty in life and find as much joy as I can while I am in this world. I travel frequently, experience various cultures and foods, catch up with family and friends, show and express my love and appreciation to those I care about, and constantly remind myself how fortunate I am.

As we start a brand new year, I hope my thoughts can inspire you in some way to make the very best of your life and to enjoy it with your family and friends.