By Dave Stancliff/For the Times-Standard
Do you treat each day like it might be your last?
I asked myself that question when my Mother (Margaret Jane Stancliff) died unexpectedly on October 3rd.
Or, like most people, are you too busy to even think that today might be your last hours of life?
The California Healthcare Foundation released a study (2/12) titled, “Snapshot - Final Chapter: Californians’ Attitudes and Experiences with Death or Dying.” The study reveals 41 percent of Californians’ say they have “too many other things to think about right now” instead of talking about death. (http://www.PDF download.org ).
I try to get the most out of every day. It’s not easy. Giving in to the negativity that surrounds me everyday is easier than trying to be positive about what I see and hear. It takes more muscles to smile, but the end result can light up the world around me for a moment.
I don’t adhere to any one ideology, philosophy, or religion when it comes to how I approach each day. Instead, I motivate myself in many ways. I look for stories about people who do take each day as a gift in their lives.
Memories of friends and loved ones who passed too soon urge me to slow down and smell the proverbial flowers. I sometimes imagine it is my last day on earth and how I should spend it.
This helps me shake off the lethargy of living, and look at hours and days as more precious than any amount of gold or material things. It helps me refocus when I get thrown off track, something that happens to the happiest of us.
It’s not a perfect world and that’s okay. It shouldn’t affect your day. If you’re healthy and can get about and do various activities, you should take advantage of that as a way to enrich your life and to give each day more meaning.
Millions of people are handicapped in one way or another. Their stories of survival and later thriving energizes me to the core. I often look at their daily challenges and their bravery in making the best of their conditions, as a way of motivation.
An epiphany sometimes comes after experiencing the loss of a loved one. You realize there’s no guarantee you won’t die today, or tomorrow. The sky is suddenly bluer. The birds songs inspirational. The grass is greener, and the world has taken on a new luster.
My opinion on how important today is - as opposed to yesterday or tomorrow - comes from a lifetime of experience. I’ve done years of research on subjects ranging from the power of positive thinking, to oriental religions and disciplines to maximize my days.
I learned a long time ago, there will be bad days in my life and it is up to me to cope with them. That’s life. That’s reality. Bad things happen to all of us, regardless of how rich or poor, or how religious we are.
Because every person’s circumstances are different, having a nice day can have a broad definition. Someone working in a lumber mill for eight hours who comes home to a good hearty hot meal, would probably say they had a good day.
They made money and were productive. Someone re-learning how to walk after an accident who manages to take a few extra steps one day, would call that a good day. A child who was able to eat a full meal one day, would consider that a good day if he/she was among the starving children of the world.
I admit that decades ago, when I heard people use the line, “Have a good day,” I thought that was a shallow statement. A mental picture of a round yellow happy face accompanied the thought.
Funny how things change. Now when someone says “Have a good day,” I enjoy hearing it and quickly wish the same for the speaker. Somewhere along the line I managed to become less skeptical of everything in life.
As we all know, life is an ever evolving situation. We can choose to grow and bloom, or wither on the vine of negativity. It does come down to personal choice, despite what life hands us.
As It Stands, there’s nothing wrong with thinking about death and your mortality as one way to have a better day.