Someone once said “It is not the years in your life that matter but the life in your years.” Just so you know, it was the great American President, civil rights activist and liberator, Abraham Lincoln who made that comment.
What did Abe Lincoln mean by that? Did he simply mean one should live one’s life to the fullest? Perhaps. That is a worthy notion if that is what he meant but when you understand the life he led and his major achievements I suspect he meant more than that. His life was certainly cut short and in 56 years he appeared to live his life to the fullest but what else may this great man have contemplated with such a remark.
Throughout life you will have many problems, many hardships, and many disappointments. If you look at life with your focus on those three things you are looking from the perspective of a glass half empty. You must not adopt that negative attitude. It will only do you harm in the long run.
Adopt the glass half full attitude. The terrible triplets – problems, hardships, and disappointments – may realistically be inevitable at some time but see them as challenges. What positives can you get out of the triplets? That is what you must ask yourself when they occur.
Adopting the more positive glass half full attitude will hopefully encourage you to not only live your life to the fullest but also give more meaning to the years in your life. That is what I think Abraham Lincoln really meant.
“How do I gain more meaning to the years in my life,” I hear you ask.
There is no single answer to that question; only you can really seek the answer but seek it you should. There are many ways to achieve a sense of meaning, a sense of achievement.
Will that really satisfy my need for a life of fulfillment?
Some people have burning ambitions to make a great deal of wealth – for themselves, I mean – but ask yourself, “will that really satisfy my need for a life of fulfillment?” I think not. The impact, the result of wealth is transient. It doesn’t achieve a complete sense of satisfaction. It might for a short time but it doesn’t last.
I have known many wealthy people but I know they keep seeking more. Not more wealth necessarily but more meaning to life. Some are so wealthy they adopt a philanthropic attitude and give generously to worthy causes. But here’s the catch. They do so to announce to the world how good they are. The genuinely generous and philanthropic souls are usually secretive about their giving. They don’t seek notoriety. They seek a sense of satisfaction, of achievement in helping others and adding meaning to their life.
The reality is there are not many of those people in the world - totally selfless people. Most really wealthy people want everyone to know how good they are in giving to others; the ‘look at me’ people. No, sadly there is little, if any meaning in their lives.
Okay, forget wealth as a measure of adding meaning to your life. What else might add to the way you lead your life, give the life to your years?
Serving others? Making the lives of less fortunate people richer, not in dollar terms but in adding meaning to their lives? Will that enrich your life? Giving your generosity of spirit, your generosity of being available to help, providing a shoulder to lean on, sharing the glass half full attitude will surely improve the years in your life.
These are the thoughts I leave you with in this letter. I want you to consider them and accept the challenge to add meaning to your life.
I intend to send several letters I hope will provide some life lessons. In future letters I intend fleshing out some of the challenges. I want you to think about Abraham Lincoln’s challenge.
I want you to consider the journey you will travel in the years ahead – the journey within, not where you go in life but what capability you have within to shape you. You are important to your family and me. So important that I want you to be even more special; I want you to realize that it is the life in your years that is really important.
In future letters I will write to you about life’s educational opportunities, how you may best treat others and gain satisfaction from that, how you may provide leadership to those who need direction, and how you can develop the strength to overcome obstacles. Obstacles you face and obstacles faced by others close to you.
These are matters that can really improve the years in your life. Think about that.
Until next time ...
*Anton Clever is well into his seventh decade ... a former teacher, soldier, farm hand, lawyer and businessman (not in that order). He has travelled extensively for business and for international clients. More recently he has started writing ... currently a thriller (which will probably not be worthy of publication, he says) and has written but not published a series of “postcards” from various places (specifically, Victoria, Papua New Guinea, France, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Iran) referring to experiences in those places. He has also written for several magazines on unusual subjects but matters worthy of debate.