It started when I was still in a hospital bed in the days following my stroke. I had an enormous number of phone calls, cards and letters from people all over the United States. Word had gotten out that I’d had a stroke and people got busy.
It wasn’t remarkable that I heard from people I knew; what was remarkable was the number of people I heard from that I’d never met. Some through online discussion groups in which I had participated, others through Facebook, people who had sent me friend requests I had accepted but had never met, some through word of mouth.
The outpouring of sympathy was amazing. I hadn’t died but I realized that if I had, people would have noticed. Apparently a lot of people thought I was a pretty good guy.
Some of those things were:
The realization that my worth didn’t come from my job. As I lay in my hospital bed, I wasn’t working or earning an income. But a person’s worth shouldn’t be determined by how much that person contributes to the economy. Worth comes from the positive contributions one makes to the lives of others. I realized that while I was never any good at making money, I was always good at making friends. By that measure, I was a rich man.
It seems that you shouldn’t do things for people expecting to be rewarded or be paid back. You do things that will help others simply because you can. If you have the ability to help, I think you have a responsibility to help. If you do that, good things will follow you around. Contrast that with people who do things to hurt others just because they can.
The only thing that truly belongs to you is your name, and also your word. As much as you can, make sure that everything associated with your name is good and positive. Make what you say you will do and what you actually do be the same thing.
Your values are not what you say you believe; your values are expressed in what you do in life, by what occupies your time. If you believe in something, live it. Be the example of what you believe.
Life is too short to waste it on people who constantly let you down. Do I need to say more?
Let go of grudges. Do not carry negative, self-defeating mental energy. Move on and give your time to people who value you and will always be there. To attract that kind of person, you need to be that kind of person.
Isaac Peterson grew up on an Air Force base near Cheyenne, Wyoming. After graduating from the University of Wyoming, he embarked on a career as an award-winning investigative journalist and as a semi-professional musician in the Twin Cities, the place he called home on and off for 35 years. He also doesn’t mind it at all if someone offers to pick up his restaurant tab. Peterson also welcomes reader comments. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.