All of us are relatively healthy until the day we’re not…

So I ask the question – are we fortunate that we don’t know our personal expiry date?  I guess so, otherwise we’d constantly be looking at the clock on the wall with thoughts of dread as our end of life approached.  However, it does beg the question, well for me at least – why would any of us want to spend our lives doing something that we don’t love, makes us passionate or provides a deep sense of contentment and fulfillment?

The past year has only reinforced my beliefs that we have to live now…today and everyday, not next week or when we get our annual vacation but right this second!

Personally, my family and those close to me have had a number of health scares this past year which is worrisome given that I live some 8,000 miles away…

My older brother Gary who lives in Tasmania was diagnosed with lung cancer late last year, and after removing a chunk of his lung and bombarding his body with chemotherapy he seems to be doing okay with his regular check ups. I think a big part of his successful recovery has been that he’s been very active most of his life, particularly early on when he was a competitive cyclist, both on the track and road racing. Over the last 15 years or so he’s cycled every day, most days 50 – 75 km.  Now can you see why he’s done so well in his recovery?  There is definitely something to be said for being active. 🙂

Then earlier this year another one of my brothers – Laurie had to have surgery to remove polyps from his colon. Fortunately the biopsy’s came back clean…but a scare non-the-less.

In addition, my roommate from college – Alan, his wife Arlene has been diagnosed with stage IV cancer. Unfortunately at a time in their lives when they enjoying each of their new grandchildren…yes, all four of them. Such a special time for them but incredibly stressful all at once.  A tsunami of emotions if you will.

The difficulty, has, and will always be the distance between Canada and Australia and not being close enough to spend quality time with friends and family, especially at times like this. Living on this side of the big pond (the Pacific Ocean) indeed has its advantages at times, however with this freedom also comes trade offs…the opportunity to get together regularly and build meaningful relationships is the most difficult.

In fact, this weekend all of my siblings are heading to Tassie (Tasmania) to visit Gary and his wife Lynne.  Just one of the many times I’ve been absent from the family picture in the last 29 years. When I spoke to my sister last weekend she said that she wished we were all going to be there, yep me to!

With all of these thoughts swirling around it might be easy to sink into a funk and become a little depressed, but to be clear no one forced me to move to Canada.

However, I’ve mad a conscious choice to live my life on my terms…every day to the best of my ability.

Seeking enjoyment and contentment in the little things in life – like taking a moment to savor a handful of moments in your day, like the smell of your coffee in the morning as it brews or perhaps the sound of birds waking you with their morning songs when you wake.

The way I look at the world is that happiness and contentment are contextual to you, and you alone.  They are your reality and so you get to choose what brings you joy, solace, pleasure…

The trick is to stop and allow yourself to be in the moment. These smallest of small pleasures can set the tone for how you interact with the world each day, and trust me your disposition impacts and affects others around you.

Just for a moment think about your spouse, your kids, your work colleagues, the people you interact with each day and how you being in a great mood projects a positive feeling for those around you.  One thing I’ve impressed upon Zach and Sami over the course of their lives is that each day we get to choose how we interact with the world around us and the manner in which we do it.

Skeptical – then try it.

Tomorrow morning stop yourself just for a minute and absorb something that brings your comfort, enjoyment, a sense of wellbeing.  Now try this two or three times throughout your day.  It wont’t come naturally so you’ll have to give it a nudge each day until it becomes a naturally occurring pattern.

I realize its not easy to consciously stop yourself and literally “smell the roses”.  In fact the first few times I tried it, it felt contrived and forced, but the more I forced myself to pause the easier it became and now without thinking my psyche just is more observant and ready for these little moments.  Literally tapping me on the shoulder to say “hey, do you see that?”

Life is really about these little moments.

We choose to be happy, sad, grateful, grumpy, mad…whatever the emotion that you’re wearing its one that you’ve chosen. Perhaps its circumstance, but its how you react to that circumstance that governs all your emotions and feelings…plus impacts consciously or unconsciously all those around you.

For me, being kind and generous to myself helps set the tone for not only a more stress free life, but also opens me up to the possibilities of living a full and complete life on my terms.

Remember tomorrow is day one of the rest of your life!