My Uncle Alfred is my father’s oldest sibling. He and I have always lived 1500 miles apart and, other than once as a toddler, I didn’t meet him until I was 26. Despite the distance, he greatly influenced my family. Whenever my dad talked about Alfred his tone became reverent. He deeply admired Alfred and over the years my brothers and I came to know why.
Alfred was in the first group of U.S.A. military captured in WWII (spent the entire war in a concentration camp), has been widowed by both of his wives, and of his two children he lost one to leukemia when she was 4 and the other has been incapacitated and in a nursing home for much of her life. He’s outlived both of his siblings, has dealt with the discomfort of stomach cancer for over a decade, and despite these sorrows there’s a lightness, a sweetness, and a deep sense of appreciation for life that I feel in his presence. I first went to visit Alfred when I was 49 and have gone each year thereafter. During our visits I’ve gleaned the following life tips from him:
1. Stay active
Alfred walks 4 miles around a mountainside each day (and is on a treadmill for an hour when the weather prohibits his walk). He does this with an oxygen tank and an awareness of the natural beauty around him.
2. Forgive and let go of resentments
As much as they hurt, they’ll hurt you more if you carry them around with you. He’s committed to living “in the now”.
3. Know your priorities
“Remember to stop and smell the flowers” he used to say to me when I’d complain about how many hours I was working. Value your time.
4. Care about others
For decades Alfred volunteered helping disabled adults learn to swim. After they retired Alfred and my dad talked every day
5. Live within your means
Be financially responsible, save for the future, and appreciate what you have.
Stimulate your mind. Read good quality information for self-improvement. Never stop learning.
7. Keep things in perspective
Focus on what matters and don’t let what isn’t important hamper your joy.
8. Be honorable
Your integrity is core to who you are. Take the higher path.
9. Believe in a higher power
Let others have their beliefs. As you go about your life trust that a benevolent and mighty power loves you. None of us knows how long we’ll live. May these 9 life tips bring more living to your years.