I was asked to speak to a group of seniors about planning and enjoying retirement. My subject, “Stay Alive ALL Your Life,” seemed amusing at first, but I recalled for them that in almost every family there is a person who exists but is really “dead,” or perhaps “deadbeat,” to the other family members.

The actor, George Burns, was asked the secret of his youthful attitude. His response was, “Don’t fall in love with your bed.”

Being alive is more than just breathing through another day. It is an attitude of expectancy about living, an eagerness for what is next. The person who merely makes it through another day usually misses most, if not, all of the excitement of the day.

Here’s a plan for making your day better. A little girl was told by her grandmother, “You are like a butterfly. You fly from plant to plant and leave a little beauty everywhere you stop.” What a wonderful way of saying, “Be contagious.” Happy people create happy surroundings, adding value to the lives of those around us. Each of us spreads our influence on others in each day’s activities.

Staying alive all through your life results from these three steps: 1) determining your priorities, 2) giving yourself away and 3) appreciating life.

First, to prioritize is simply to decide what’s important to you and to concentrate on doing it. No one can decide for you what your priorities are! Frustrated people think everything is important. They fail to highlight the essential and then add other possibilities.

As a part of what’s important, try sharing yourself with someone else every day. It is true that the only love we keep is the love we give away. Give an unexpected compliment, write a thoughtful note, or discover a generous act which will brighten someone else’s day immensely. Think of yourself as a supplier of others’ needs rather than a drain on their resources. This attitude will get different responses.

Each of us has the capacity to express appreciation for something every day. A friend of mine runs a Chick-fil-A restaurant. He reminds his employees that they are in the business of sharing uncommon kindness, not just serving food. It shows in every server.

Without being phony, you can enrich your days by sharing appreciation with someone each day. I want to live like that — don’t you?

Dr. James E. Kilgore retired as the president of the International Family Foundation Inc. and is a Canton resident.

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