You know that feeling when you watch healthy people getting on with life, taking their health for granted, and your mind wonders back to those days when you were healthier, able to do more, and taking your own health for granted?
A tinge of regret creeps into your thoughts and you wish you could have let yourself know to make the most of your health before it was taken away.
You look at your friends and family and wish they would not waste the opportunities they have as healthy individuals, knowing that continued health is not guaranteed.
It’s all too easy to look back with regret at missed opportunities but, rather than live with regret, how can you use your current knowledge and experience to benefit someone you care about?
Not only that, but is there anything you can do now, knowing what you now know, that would help you in 5 or 10 years time avoid looking back at this time in your life with even more regret?
Here are 29 things that you can share with your friends and family in order that they might make the most of their current health. Which of these are still possible for you to do even with poor health? Maybe there are new dreams/goals that you can seek now?
Don’t take your health for granted
– You never know if and when an accident or disease might disable you and, regardless, you will eventually get old and your health will decline! Make the most of what you can do now so that you don’t live with regrets later.
Eat well – you reap what you sow (or eat)!
– Junk food, pre-packaged food, fast food, sugar, etc. are not what your body was designed to ‘run on’. Feed it the right kind of fuel and you will suffer fewer problems. Foods, like mentioned above, should only be a treat (if anything) rather than a staple in a diet. Eat as naturally as possible to strengthen your body. If not, your body will start breaking down sooner.
Move your body!
– You were designed to move and you should make the most of being able to do so. Choose a physical activity you enjoy and do it regularly so that you can look and feel good.
Go on a big adventure
– Do what you’ve always wanted to do. Whether the adventure is close to home or far away, costs a lot or nothing at all, do something epic that you can look back on with fond memories.
Explore the world
– You live in a big world. The more you explore of it, the bigger your worldview and perspective, which contributes to your development as a person.
Take more time out for fun
– It’s too easy to get caught up with ‘responsibilities’ and feel overwhelmed. Take regular time to have fun doing something you enjoy – by yourself as well as with friends & family.
Make the most of ‘now’
– Don’t ‘postpone life’ until certain criteria is met (ie. you have a certain amount of money). While you may not be able to do some of your more expensive dreams, you can still have fun and do other things right now as you continue to save and prepare for the ‘bigger’ things. You don’t want to miss out on what life has to offer now on the basis of a tomorrow you don’t know you have.
Don’t put off a big dream
– While finances and/or responsibilities can be a hinderance to fulfilling this right away, do what you can to see this dream become a reality sooner rather than later. Think outside the box – there are probably ways you could fulfil the dream by doing things slightly differently for a certain amount of time.
“Go make disciples of all nations”
– Consider your purpose for being here. Look for opportunities to share your faith and disciple others whether it’s local or far away, when having fun or fulfilling responsibilities.
– While it’s a good thing to fulfil your dreams, do so while always seeking to serve others. If you just focus on yourself and doing what you want, you’re a selfish person. Focusing on the needs of others helps you look outside yourself and helps you fulfil a bigger purpose in life.
Mature in your faith
– Don’t be content to ‘cruise’. Keep training in righteousness and find a godly person to mentor you (like Paul did with Timothy). You don’t want to stay an immature baby!
Create godly habits
– Not only should you prioritise time with God in prayer and bible study, church, etc. but also grow in areas of Christian living – repentance, forgiveness, kindness, living at peace, etc.
Apply what you learn
– If it’s not applied, it’s no good. Ask yourself this question frequently: ‘What is God wanting to teach me through this passage/circumstance?’ Do this with formal bible studies and sermons as well as in response to life circumstances and you will accelerate your maturity in your faith and will grow in wisdom.
Take one day at a time
– Don’t try to ‘fast-forward’ your life to a point where you think you’ll be happiest. Enjoy this day and make the most of it. None of us are guaranteed what happens tomorrow…
– We are all created unique so don’t try to be someone else. Develop your talents, gifts, personality, etc. to be all YOU can be. Don’t waste time trying to be someone you’re not and worrying about what others think about you. You’ll find that you’ll gain more respect from others for being yourself.
Develop close friendships
– Throughout your life, people will come and go as circumstances change. Develop some really close friendships – a handful of people that you can share your deepest desires and concerns with and can count on even when life gets tough. If you develop a chronic illness, these are the people that won’t disappear off the radar. Recognise the difference between a friend that you enjoy hanging out with and a really close friendship. When you find a close friend, nurture that friendship and serve one another. Don’t take this kind of friendship for granted.
Be ‘present’ with others
– With so many distractions vying for our attention, it’s easy to not be truly ‘present’ when we’re with someone. Turn your phone off, or whatever it might be, and focus on being present with the person you’re with. Focusing your attention on them communicates their value to you. If you’re not engaged, they will sense that and you’ll not be able to develop the kind of close friendships mentioned above and you’ll be the one that may one day complain of feeling lonely and abandoned.
Remember that everyone suffers
– It’s easy to think that you’re the only one who struggles with certain things. The reality is, everyone is suffering in some way and, if they’re not suffering right now, they recently have been or soon will be. Look out for those around you and be an encouragement to them. You may need their encouragement some day.
Don’t get too busy
– Western life is so fast-paced that it leaves little time for what truly matters. Don’t fill up your schedule so full (even of good things) that you don’t have time for what’s most important – God and your relationships with others.
Schedule time for rest and minimise stress
– When young and healthy, it’s easy to push yourself too much. Be sure to make time to let your body/mind rest. Don’t look at rest as an inconvenience but as a means for allowing your body to make it through the marathon. Remember that our life here is pictured more as a marathon than a sprint.
Allow time to be flexible
– While making plans is a good thing, build into your plans some flexibility to accommodate those situations that crop up that you can’t plan for. This way, you’re less likely to miss opportunities that come your way.
Delegate for more freedom
– Don’t try and do everything yourself. Delegating will enable you to have more time and energy for other important things.
Develop career skills that you can do anywhere
– Since you never know what your future holds, it could be a good idea to develop skills from which you can make an income anywhere. So, if you have the opportunity to go abroad, you can. If you’re stuck at home because you’re too unwell to work for someone else or you need to be home for your children, you can use these skills to pursue a home-based career.
Pursue the career you want
– Evaluate your desires and skills and pursue what you WANT to do, not what you think you SHOULD do because maybe it’s more ‘sensible’. So many people live with regrets at not having pursued the career they wish they could have done. Even if, due to ill health, you can only do that career for a short time, at least you’ll have had that time.
Take a risk
– So many people like to play it ‘safe’ and then never reach their full potential or accomplish the things they could do. Taking a well thought-through risk can change your life and you’re less likely to live with regret.
Be willing to be different
– It’s easy to want to follow the crowd but sometimes the crowd isn’t going anywhere. Be willing to be different – to be yourself, to do those things that other people are too afraid to do, etc. Consider the people you admire – are they ‘one of the crowd’ or do they stand out in some way?
Make a plan for achieving your goals
– If you want to build a business or go on a big vacation or whatever, make a plan. Big dreams don’t just happen. Make a plan and be disciplined to stick to it. Be sure to include some of the above tips like fun and rest into your plan as you work towards your bigger goals so that you don’t miss out on the details of life.
Be financially wise
– While you have opportunity to work and set aside savings, do so. Leave enough to have some fun and invest in ministries (charities, etc.) but put the rest away for a rainy day. Medical bills, home repairs, etc. can really set you back if you’re not prepared.
Do. Or do not. There is no try (Yoda)
– Don’t accept defeat before you even start. Give everything your best shot.
As nice as it might seem to be able to go back in time and maximise your healthy days with the knowledge that you now have, that’s unfortunately not reality.
However, looking back at your life doesn’t have to be a discouraging exercise full of regrets. It can, in fact, be a great learning experience – for yourself as well as for others.
While some of these things above may no longer be practical due to ill health, many of these things can be implemented regardless of health by looking at what you CAN still do – starting today.
Look over this list and add your own ideas to inspire yourself to make the most of what you can do today.
Also, you may want to share this with your friends and family so they don’t take their health for granted. No one chooses chronic health problems but many find themselves in that place at some point in their lives.
Let’s encourage one another to make the most of what we have whatever stage of life and health we are in.