Sometimes it takes a gentle kick to the heart to remind me of what is truly important.

I was watching, or more accurately listening to the news when the Clemson Tigers visited the White House after winning the national collegiate football title. I must admit I wasn’t paying too much attention until I heard the Clemson coach, Dabo Swinney close his remarks by quoting Tyler Trent, a 20-year-old Purdue Boilermaker super fan who made national headlines last fall and passed away on January 1st, 2019 from bone cancer. I used the DVR to go back and listen to Coach Swinney a couple of times. Click here to read Tyler’s story

Here is the quote Tyler wrote a week or so before Christmas, “Though I am in hospice care and have to wake up every morning knowing that the day might be my last, I still have a choice to make, to make that day the best it can be. Yet, isn’t that a choice we all have every day? After all, nobody knows the amount of days we have left. Some could say we are all in hospice to a certain degree. So why don’t we act like it.”

The coach paused for a moment and then continued with Tyler’s quote, “So why don’t we act like it? Where is your gratitude? With Christmas coming up, what are you thankful for? I had to write my will recently, and I’m just thankful I can give my family Christmas presents, maybe even for one last time. Let’s not forget that my doctors gave me three months to live almost two-and-a-half months ago. So why can’t we live grateful lives? Why can’t we make every day count like it’s the last?”

That quote moved me. Although I am gratefully not facing Tyler’s situation, I am a cancer survivor and getting older. Tyler helped me remember that I too am in a hospice of sorts. In a way we all are. That thought doesn’t make me unhappy, just more aware.

There are many things I don’t know about the future. For example: I don’t know how many more deer seasons with my family I have left. I don’t know how many more Christmases and New Year’s or birthdays I will celebrate with family and friends. I don’t know when the last time I will say good bye to my family and friends will be. What I do know is that every moment of my day, every day, is available to create joy, gratitude, goodness, kindness and pleasant memories. I intend to not miss any of them and to continue to try to become better at it, one day at a time. That has made me a happier and more content person.

Over the years I have developed a\the habit of waking up with thoughts of gratitude running through my head and heart. Grateful for my wife and family, for the dogs, for my life and for another day to create goodness and help other people. It is a habit I started doing several years ago after a friend asked me one of those a life changing questions.

He asked, ‘What if, when you woke up this morning, the only things you had left were the things you were grateful for the day before, what would you have left?” That day my answer was nothing. After he asked that question, I could not remember having spent one conscious moment being grateful about anything the day before and that bothered me. I became determined to never to have ‘nothing’ as my answer to that question again.

I admire Tyler and his attitude. He lived an exceptional and exemplary life through extremely difficult circumstances. The last lines of Tyler’s quote say, “So why can’t we live grateful lives? Why can’t we make every day count like it’s the last?”

The good news is we can, if we are mindful about being grateful for what we already have and cherish those special moments that give life it’s joy and meaning. My advice is to give practicing mindful gratitude a try and see if it doesn’t increase the quality of your experience. Mindful gratitude is just taking a moment here and there, throughout your day, to think of the people and things you are grateful for. Some people write those things down throughout the day or at the end of the day in a gratitude journal. Thank you, Tyler for the reminder and perspective. You are my gratitude journal entry for today. Happy trails and make this day the best you can…Dave