“Live ife to the fullest.” Cliché? No, a warning you don’t want to miss.

We sat in the pool, floating along with the sunset. The water still too cool, but warm enough to sit on a float. Young people have a pristine and uncomplicated view of the world. I marvel at how they see the truth and fearlessly speak it.

This bright and lively 17-year-old smiles and I hang on to every word. She chatters about how she and her friends continue to communicate during this time of social distancing. You might think that I would hear complaints, drama about the lost parties, school activities, and not being able to “hang out” with friends.

No time for whining or moping about, here. Does she miss all the things that consume the life of a teenager? Absolutely. The spring dance program, proms, and roaming the mall won’t come back. Those lost moments remain wishes.

Our floats meander to the deep end of the pool and so does our somewhat chilly tête-à-têtes. We talk about how people always want more. If they get this one more thing, whatever that might be, they will be happy.

If I get this dress, I will stand out in the crowd and be happy. Adults work 60 hours a week waiting for the moment they deserve happiness. You wait for another day, another year to do what brings you the most joy and makes your heart sing.

sunset through arches with a swing and tress in the backgroundThe sun fell and the twilight air pushed goosebumps up our arms. Wisdom came pouring out of this amazing creature before me.

“You know, you just can’t wait around for happiness. If you can’t be happy right where you are, you’re never going to have it. Even in the bad things, you can be happy if you want to.”

Oh, my dear, so true, so true.

“Happiness, not in another place but this place… not for another hour, but this hour.”
Walt Whitman

What does happiness no matter what look like? Out in the now chilly night, the bright star next to me came up with five.

  1. Spend time with those you love.

    Enjoy each other, even younger brothers, can make you laugh. You can’t take for granted family and friends. Don’t wait for tomorrow to call or send a note. You never know when that call, text, or visit gives the lifeline needed at that very moment.

  2. Stop complaining.

    Some things you can’t control. The line at the store does not have it in for you. The noisy laughter from the neighbors—don’t begrudge their moment of joy. Try a “no complaining” rule for a day. You might surprise yourself at how often you complain.

  3. Let go.

    Let go of the past. Those mistakes are gone. Learn what you can from them and move on. Let go of trying to control people, events, the future. Every day do your best.

  4. Be true to you.

    Take time to think about who you are and who you want to be. We grow and change. As we evolve, a little time spent anchoring our values and beliefs helps steady our feet for the next big adventure. Or, maybe only a baby step into something new.

  5. Give kindness.

    The easiest and simplest gift we can give is kindness. All it takes is a smile or a plate of baked cookies left on the doorstep of a neighbor. Imagine a world where every single person spread kindness instead of hatred.

The unicorn and I could have added more, but the stars began to twinkle, and our toes had frozen. We planned to meet here again and ponder, laugh, and focus on happiness at this moment.

Happiness, joy, contentment come from giving more than receiving and accepting that you are enough. That doesn’t rule out always striving to do better. The question becomes, “What is the better for?”

Live life to the fullest, now, not later. Later never arrives.

And always—

Be kind. Be brave. Be you.

Feature Photo: Connor Baker on Unsplash

Photo: © Kathryn LeRoy