Another Day, Another Chance

Everyday we awake to the miracle called life. Instead of rejoicing in it too many of us take it for granteLagunaBeach1-23-10d.

When attending my nephew’s 30th birthday party I said “Happy Birthday! Another birthday, another chance.” The party guests all chuckled at this, but it is so true, not just on our birthdays, of course, but every day.

New Year’s resolutions are a popular practice because we like new beginnings as a time to make changes in our lives. But every day is actually a new beginning; we don’t have to wait 365 days before making changes in our lives.

What changes can we make on a daily basis that will bring us the happiness we all crave?

1. Make small changes in your physical environment. It can do wonders for your perspective, outlook and outcomes.

If the idea of decluttering an entire room, for example,  is as overwhelming to you as it is to me, just clear your desktop or nightstand. Scan those magazines you’ve intended to read and toss. (I’m saying what I need to hear.)

If you work at home,  work in a different area of the house for a change. Creating articles on my patio yields different ideas from the ones I get inside.

Since most of my work is done on my laptop, I find it helpful to my creativity to sometimes go to the library, bookstore, restaurant or coffee shop.

2. Reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while or don’t see very often.

Connecting with another person will make a difference to them and to you as well.

I’m fond of email, but for a number of holidays other than Christmas I enjoy sending greeting cards. Even people who don’t make the time to send cards still enjoy receiving them.

3. Take a walk, exercise or meditate for any reason.

I enjoy walking, but when I told myself I needed to do it to lose weight I had to fight inner resistance.

After working indoors for several days in a row, however, I began to crave walking as a breather for my mind. That makes all the difference.

Actors seek to understand a character’s motivation in order to give an authentic performance. Perhaps the right motivation will help you too.

4. Practice giving thanks.

Almost every book on happiness and joy advises showing gratitude. Nothing we own or have achieved came about based solely on our own personal efforts.

A higher power, no matter what name you give it, enables us to awake from sleep, witness the sunrise and sunset and keep a heart beating inside of us. Many of us, no matter what religion, offer prayers of gratitude.

Then there are all the people we’ll never meet who created, manufactured and shipped every material object we enjoy. Acknowledging their contribution in writing or just in our minds is an expression of gratitude.

A company that makes paper bags started the practice of printing on the bag the name of the employee who created it. What a wonderful reminder that a human touch was involved in that product.

I like to think of all the things I’m thankful for as I take my walk.

Closer to us are the people who gave us birth, taught us to read, hired us, married us and so on. Then, there are those who gave us encouragement if only with a smile and those who tolerated our impatience and impudence to train us or give us guidance.  We can show our gratitude with a simple verbal thank you, a written note, a letter of appreciation or more.

In 2007 I had the pleasure of reuniting with a group of friends who were part of a church youth group. We decided to show our appreciation to the couple who volunteered to lead our group back in 1957. They were approaching their 80’s and didn’t want to wait another minute to tell them how much we love and appreciate them. 30 of us gathered from all over the USA in my hometown and at this 50 year reunion celebrated our former youth leaders during a weekend of appreciation activities. We enjoyed dinner parties, brunches, and attended church together. We donated money to set up a college scholarship named for this wonderful couple who made an impact on our lives. We sang a tribute to them and gave them plenty of hugs, kisses and verbal appreciations all weekend.

You may not have the opportunity, desire, or means to produce such an elaborate appreciation, but I urge you not to wait another day to tell someone what a difference he or she has made in your life.

Showing gratitude has tremendous benefits. It connects us to others, it keeps our achievements in proper perspective and it focuses our attention on what we want to multiply.

So, here you are with this day of opportunity, another chance. Which of these changes can you make right now? Or maybe you can make changes that have more meaning for you.

Share the changes you have made.

Originally published January 7, 2009