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  • How to Live a Happy & Meaningful Life

    How to Live a Happy & Meaningful Life

    There’s a plaque on my daughter’s wall: “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”

    I was thinking about the word “moments”. We require the use of so many of our moments in those mindless activities for general survival. You know, sleeping, eating, sleeping, eating some more. Add to that our routine activities such as working for a living, managing relationships, minding a home, planning a vacation, taking time to exercise, and the moments are used up faster than we can think about them.

    A cancer diagnosis forces us to face the brevity of our life’s “moments” and consider how to make each one of them more valuable. Another quote I found reflects this idea: “The whole of life is but a moment of time. It is our duty, therefore, to use it, not to misuse it.” (Plutarch) Perhaps it is our duty not to misuse our moments, but the desire not to misuse our moments is amplified with cancer staring us in the face.

    What happened? What’s the difference in how we perceive our “moments” when facing cancer versus the time before cancer entered our lives? I think it’s simply the fact that we take each of those moments and slow down to put a value on them, sometimes for the first time in our lives. Another quote: “A man who dares waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” (Charles Darwin) Cancer forces a startling reminder of the value of life. As a result, those “moments that take our breath away” are not a fleeting thought, but instead searched for with more intensity than before. Time still passes moment to moment, hour to hour, day by day, but the value of time, and of life, is contained in those moments. Taking care of the moments is key to taking care of our lives. “I recommend you take care of the minutes and the hours will take care of themselves.” (Earl of Chesterfield)

    Reflecting on life from a moment-by-moment perspective instead of a year-by-year perspective can only do one thing: slow us down. It’s a good thing. One of my favorite prayers is called “Prayer for a Peaceful Heart” (adapted from Wilfred A. Peterson) and it contains a line in the middle about the “moments.”

    Please Lord, slow me down, ease my pounding heart
    Quiet my racing mind, steady my hurried steps
    Amidst the confusion of my days
    Grant me the calmness of your peace
    Help me to know the truly restoring gift of sleep
    Teach me the art of taking time off
    To slow down to see the beauty in your creation
    To chat with a friend
    To read a few lines from a good book
    Remind me each day that there is more to life than increasing in speed
    It is living, each moment, with You and for You
    Let me look upwards Into the branches of a towering oak
    And know that it grew slowly and well
    Please Lord, slow me down
    Teach me to be gentle and humble of heart
    Fearing nothing of this world
    As you are my Lord
    Grant me rest for my soul
    Now and eternally with you