Aaron, a 98-year-old man recently lost his wife, Alice. They had been married 70 years and lived independently in their own home. Aaron was legally blind and depended a lot on Alice. Together, they had a rewarding and happy life. After Alice’s passing, Aaron decided to move into an adult care home.
Aaron made quite an impression on the staff from the moment they first met him. He walked into the facility proudly, with a big smile. Aaron’s vivacious attitude brightened everyone he came into contact with.
Unlike some other residents, Aaron never complained. He had no bitterness. Carol, one of the nurses, took a particular liking to Aaron. She always enjoyed speaking with him. Carol made a point to visit with Aaron as often as possible.
During one conversation, Carol asked Aaron how he stayed so upbeat. Here is what Aaron told her:
“Every day, I am thankful for the gifts I have. When I awake each morning I know it will be a great day. Some parts of my body don’t operate as well as they used to, so I appreciate what is still working. My days may be numbered. Nevertheless I am determined to make the most of each one.
Although I miss my wife, I am grateful for all the wonderful years we shared together. It brings me joy to reminisce about the good times we had. I know I can't stop life's changes, but I can adapt and adjust. I live for today and look forward to tomorrow.
I think about how fortunate I have always been. I've always had a roof over my head, clothes to wear, and enough to eat. I was never jealous about what others had. Even though others had more possessions, I have always been happy.
I accept people for who they are. How they behave is out of my control. I accept responsibility for myself. I'm always striving to become a better person. I am considerate of others. I treat each person I meet with dignity. I take care not to cause anyone harm or discomfort.
My thoughts and emotions are my own. I don't allow anyone to control them. Regardless of what may be happening around me, I can be serene inside. My eyes are not working that well but it's my mind that determines what I see. I choose to see beauty wherever I am. It's such a shame when people with perfect sight only see trouble and despair.
I don't allow the poisons of bitterness or hatred into my body because they will destroy me. Regardless of what may happen, I say to myself, 'where do I go from here?' The only direction for me is forward.
What I don't understand, Carol, is why more people are not smiling and happy. Life is a gift that should be treasured."
Carol was touched. Aaron, this sweet old man, was such an inspiration. He was elderly, a widower, blind, and frail, yet Carol had never met anyone with such a clear mind and beautiful outlook on life.
Although experience is a good teacher, someone else's experience is a better teacher. We can all learn from Aaron's wisdom. The lessons Aaron acquired over a lifetime can help us all be better people.
NOW AVAILABLE: "Dare to Live Without Limits," the book. Visit www.BryanGolden.com or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at firstname.lastname@example.org or write him c/o this paper. © 2005 Bryan Golden