Last year ended with an interesting telephone call. On the other end of the line was my sweet sister’s voice, upbeat and playful. She said, “Hi Sis, I have a story to tell you.” I thought it was going to be one of her tales about a neighborhood walk gone sideways, or perhaps she found another puppy or an update on the antics that take place amongst the wildlife in her backyard. But instead, without a shift in her tone, she shared, “I’m in the hospital and they are trying to figure out what is wrong.”
For the next few days, my sister was poked and scanned, kept awake by the beeping of her monitors and the yells of the woman in the room next door. She was confined to her bed, just in case the world started spinning again, and left hungry – there may be a need for another fasting test. Eventually, she was released with a clean bill of health, but not before receiving this single prescription from her doctor, “I want you to go home and enjoy your best life, laugh every day – out loud and uninhibited. And remember, take time to enjoy all your blessings.”
What interesting instruction to receive from an emergency room physician.
My sister and I have had several conversations since her little adventure. And each chat has reminded me of her doctor’s direction. It’s made me think about what it means for me to live my best life, laugh unbridled, and focus on my blessings.
This is what I’m learning.
1. Best-life Living takes Surrender
To live my best life, I must be willing to let go of some of the baggage I tend to carry. The thoughts that try to keep me guessing about my worth. The not-so-innocent nudge, encouraging me to define my value based on what and how much I achieve. And the relentless tape that plays inside my head attempting to keep me fixated on comparisons and what-ifs. Living the best life will require me to stop measuring myself against the standards of our culture, the current trends on social media, or my family and friends. Best-life-living only comes from surrender to the Life-Giver.
2. Laugh – At Yourself and Others
When I was little, my parents called me an old soul. I was the child that hung around the adults, quietly absorbing their wisdom. The old soul label stuck with me into adulthood and today manifests itself in a more introverted and stoic personality (i.e., I don’t laugh out loud much). I think that the emergency room doctor’s advice can be taken in two ways. First, don’t forget to laugh at yourself. No one is perfect, nor should we work to be perfect, and laughing at ourselves brings relief and acceptance of our imperfections. Secondly, laughing is therapeutic. It is very hard to be self-absorbed, sad, or even angry when you are engaged in a belly laugh. So, to live your best, laugh – loudly, daily, at yourself, and the world around you.
3. Remember Your Blessings
I found myself complaining the other day. It had snowed the night before but as the temperature rose the roads and sidewalks became a slushy mess. But then the temperature dropped and the slush turned to ice. I don’t like ice! I don’t like walking on glazed pavement and I really don’t like driving on sheets of ice. Hence the complaining.
Later that afternoon, I had to run a few errands. I drove past one of the many empty fields being used as a homeless camp in our community. Men and women moved from tent to tent, wrapped in blankets; their heads covered in stocking caps, fingers exposed to the cold. Small propane stoves sat outside a few of the tents and dogs were curled close to the flames. And then the reality of my self-centeredness hit me. I have a home and warm clothes. My stove sits comfortably inside my house, and so does my bathroom, and each night I sleep in a warm bed. Reality check, I am blessed. Every need and desire met.
To live my best life, I need to stop longing for what I feel is missing and focus on all that I have. All the blessings I experience every day. And trust me, I understand that life is hard and unrelenting at times, but I can always find the blessing if I take a few minutes to look for it.
Best-life-living requires us to change how we think. Allowing Christ, the giver of life to replace all the broken thinking with a new focus outside ourselves, and remember we are blessed.
My sister is fine. She approaches each day with a renewed focus on living and as she encourages me, I want to encourage you, the Life-Giver, Jesus, is the key to best-life-living. I hope this year you focus on Him, belly laugh now and then, and remember you are blessed.
Happy New Year,