Today Is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life

We’ve all heard this expression hundreds of times. So many times that it’s become a cliché. But that doesn’t diminish the statement’s inherent truth.

Every single day is an opportunity to make the most of every day thereafter. We cannot change the past no matter how difficult or painful. Nor should we try. Our past experiences helped create who we are today. They’ve helped shape our worldview, values, and core character. They will always be with us, but they are also yesterday’s news. Today and tomorrow are what truly matter.

Life is short. Too freakin’ short. And we never know when it will end.

Someone much wiser than me said, “Today is a gift, which is why we call it the present.” Please join me in embracing this gift and wholeheartedly embracing the fact that today is indeed the first day of the rest of your life.

Wag More, Bark Less

M&RI recently saw a bumper sticker encouraging me to “Wag More, Bark Less.” As the proud owner of two sweet-tempered yellow Labs named Riley and Maisy, I couldn’t help but smile. More importantly, however, it reminded me of how much we humans can learn about life from our canine friends.

Riley and Maisy love everything. Every morsel of food is miraculous; every scent is addictive; every walk in the park is a tropical vacation; every sound is a revelation; every pat on the head or scratch on the butt is orgasmic. And no matter what delightful activity they’re engaged in, they’re always ready to try something else because they know it will be even more fun.

Does that sound like you? I know it doesn’t sound like me. There’s a certain sameness in our lives that deflates our sense of wonder and excitement. Riley and Maisy have eaten the exact same meal every day of their lives. Nonetheless, they never tire of it and salivate like a couple of garden hoses when I scoop kibble into their bowls. They’ve never pushed the bowl away or complained about the service.

Riley and Maisy love everything and are loved by everyone. I think it’s cause-and-effect, and it can work for us non-canines as well. Be enthusiastic about your work, and your colleagues, managers, and subordinates will feel your enthusiasm and emulate it. Express your appreciation to clients and they’ll come back for more. Let your loved ones know how important they are by greeting them at the door when they return home and thanking them for the little things they do that make your life easier. Smile at the barista, supermarket cashier, or random stranger on the street and odds are they’ll smile back.

Maisy and Riley manifest their love in dozens of ways every single day – locking eyes with me, wagging their tails, and resting a paw on my feet or a chin on my knee. It never gets tiresome for them or me. It deepens our connection. Yet think about how simple those acts are. And think about how many opportunities we have every single day to deepen our own connections with the people and communities around us. Opportunities we too often ignore because we’re busy, distracted, or simply not interested.

Dogs possess the wonderful ability to never be too busy to experience something new. They can be simultaneously deeply mindful and easily distracted. They are interested in everything. They live solely “in the moment.” The past and the future have no meaning to them. They devote their entire being to whatever is right in front of them. If something else comes along – a “distraction” (though the word sounds far too pejorative in this sense) – they similarly commit the whole of their being to that new activity, scent, person, or thing. Humans bemoan distractions because they ruin our plans and slow us down. Dogs recognize distractions for what they really are – serendipitous encounters that bring us face-to-face with all the world has to offer. It’s often the unplanned moments that bring us the most joy. They deliver new insights, different perspectives, and more reasons to wag rather than bark.

So I promise to wag more, and I invite you to join me.

Why Not Celebrate Half-Birthdays?

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 1.37.29 PMI turned 65-and-a-half today. I know that because I received an email this morning from the Jack Daniels distillery reminding me of this momentous occasion. I’d visited the distillery a few years ago on a visit to Nashville. Evidently I provided my birth date in order to partake of their tasty samples.

It struck me initially as a pretty cool promotion. After all, no one else (and you know who you are) wished me a half-birthday. The email made me smile – and also promise to celebrate tonight with a smooth-as-silk whiskey.

The more I thought about it, however, I realized it was a powerful reminder to take some time every day to celebrate. Life is too freakin’ short to skip any opportunity to recognize all the delights life has to offer. I know this is true for me and I suspect it is equally true for most people: We have far more to take joy in than to complain about. Nonetheless we all tend to do much more of the latter. Maybe it’s human nature, maybe it’s nurture, or maybe it’s simply easier to bitch than enrich.

Today I choose to enrich and celebrate my half-birthday. How about you?