I live in a community of people over age 55. Someone might think that we are “old folks” just waiting for our children to choose our nursing facility, but that is far from the truth. Every day a number of our residents walk around the community for exercise for themselves and their dogs! Our bodies may be a little slower than they once were but our minds are still alert. In sharing with neighbors I’ve been reminded of some truths that can keep us alive all our lives!

These are some words that encapsulate what makes living worthwhile:

Don’t sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate.

Too many times in our lives the urgent demands attention, but later we discover that the more reflective and perhaps slower response reveals a better choice. Building a life on the eternal principles gives stability to our decisions. The psalmist rested in the assurance that God would show him “the path of life where there are pleasures.” Not all pleasure is the result of immediate gratification! The broad highway seems easier to choose, but one may miss the beautiful bloom of the flowers that grow near the narrow path that looks less inviting. Don’t let the immediate pressures rob you of more satisfying rewards!

Finish the job!

That may seem like a simple instruction, yet it catches a profound truth about living. Too many tasks are begun with enthusiasm but lack energy as one approaches the finish line. My Dad often repeated the truism to me: “A job worth doing is worth doing well.” That’s the philosophy of a finisher! Quitters find excuses, but finishers find new energy and move on. The ability to organize for the task may make it more manageable but the goal is always to complete the project. Reassembling, reorganizing, or rearranging may provide a breather but the focus needs to be on the goal. We need to keep pushing. The end may be just a little bit further.

It’s better to live for something than to die for nothing.

A guest preacher once labeled his sermon, “The Explosive Power of a Great Idea!” That superb truth evaluates all we do! Over the years in my counseling practice I have listened to far too many people who are depressed. What they often discover is that they are not living for anything and inwardly dying for nothing.

Amazing changes can take place when we discover something worth the investment of energy and concern for a cause or another person. The inward loyalty of the soldier makes him willing to risk his life for the good of his fellow man or country. People who discover something worth dying for live with more fulfillment and satisfaction.

Practicing gratitude creates an atmosphere around you others want to share.

Two of the most important words we ever learn are these: thank you! The gift of appreciation changes so many circumstances. The person who feels appreciated is usually an excellent worker or a strong contributor to the team. Each of us can give the gift of gratitude with so little sacrifice! To feel taken for granted is emotionally debilitating, but being appreciated is sweeter than honey on a freshly baked biscuit just out of the oven. This simple truth can make your own heart happy simply by watching the faces of those to whom you express gratitude for their service. No doubt their smiles will also enrich your life.

I’ve discovered there’s a lot of wisdom in the conversations of older folks. If we listen a bit more, we may find some truths that keep our lives enriched and us feeling “alive” long before we have to die!

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Dr. James E. Kilgore retired as President of the International Family Foundation and lives in Canton. His most recent book, “Living Without Limits,” was published in late 2019 and is available at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

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(1) comment


"I’ve discovered there’s a lot of wisdom in the conversations of older folks..." unless that older folk is Don Conkey.

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