Maybe it’s because I went to a very inspiring play the other evening, “Tuesday with Morrie,” or because one of my longtime friends and dental peer, Dr. Jim Seamans just died, or maybe it is because I realize I definitely have passed middle-age at six decades; whatever the reason I find myself looking at life today with a different eye and want to share my thoughts with you.
Life is full of traps. When we are young, life is about learning. We can hardly wait as we dredge through school, college, tests, and essays for that one specific day when we can enter the workforce and start earning. Here is wherethe trap begins. I call it “I’ll be happy when…. syndrome”. I’ll be happy when I can drive. I’ll be happy when I graduate. I’ll be happy when I find the love of my life and start a family. I’ll be happy when I land that job. I’ll be happy when we move into our dream home. The list goes on and on. I know… I still find myself in this trap many moments throughout the day. As I reflect, the momentary arrival at such destinations does not seem to be quite as fulfilling as I anticipated; and this is when I return to my search for something to quench that thirst.
As I sit here pounding on these keys, I realize that the most enriching moments in my life have been when I gave my best to someone else. My joy is not amplified by the size of the gift. It can be as simple as a smile, a word of encouragement or an opportunity to improve another’s life. This clarity reveals the fact that real happiness is not in the learning or the earning, but in the returning.
I do not have to wait to be happy when. I can be happy today, this moment, by helping someone else. There is no need to wait. The opportunities are boundless if I just look around. A good friend and mentor, Robert Echols once told me “Yesterday is a canceled check and tomorrow is a promissory note that may never get cashed. Today is the only currency we can work with and there are no promises we will have any other time to do what we must.”
When P.T Barnum, the founder of the Greatest Show on Earth, fell gravely ill at age 81, he convinced the editor of The New York Sun to publish his obituary in advance so he could see it in print. In a sermon a couple of weeks ago, my pastor asked this question; “What would your obit say about you?” Would it say that you graduatedfrom this school or that? How about that you earned this much money? Or, would it be that you were striving to be happy when….? On the other hand,would you prefer to read about how you made an impact on the lives of others because of what you gave?
I do not believe in coincidences. I believe all of us were placed at Planet Custom Dental at this perfect moment to make a difference. We can make that difference not by what we know or what we earn, but by what we give to our patients and fellow team members. There are no promises for tomorrow and your withheld gifts earn no interest. You will be happy when…. you give your best today.