…there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this everyday of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special. -Jim Valvana college basketball coach, from his ESPY awards speech, given just eight weeks before he died of cancer

In the early 1980s, I attended a conference in Southern Calaifornis where I happened to hear a woman, a Canadian environmentalist, speak on her 95th birthday. I have long since forgotten her name, but her message has stuck with me all my life.

This woman, whom I’ll call Catherine, shared this wise and wonderful advice with a group of aspiring young Forest Service workers:

“They say life is short, but is it? Once you get close to 100, people will ask you point-blank if life seems short or long when you look back on it. Today, I have decided to let the cat out of the bag.

“Somewhere in my thirties, the pace of life began to quicken,” Catherine continued. “I was so busy trying to raise a family and fund my reforestation projects that whole years began to fly by in a blur, as if I wasn’t even there for them. It seemed like only a short time passed before I looked up and saw my 70th birthday coming at me like a runaway train. In that regard, I can tell you that life from birth to 70 was far too short, at least for me.”

In contrast, Catherine said that her life from 70 to 95 had seemed longer,fuller,richer, and more beautiful—almost spiritual. What had changed? Just one thing: “I made a conscious decision to live those years one day at a time,” she explained. “It dawned on me that life is short, but the days are long if you are conscious of them. The secret is this, and please don’t wait until it’s too late to learn it: “Live consciously. Treat each day as if it’s a miniature lifetime. In this way I have learned to get more life out of one day than I used to get out of entire years.”

Time is a very precious gift… so precious that it is only given to us moment by moment. -Amelia Barr

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