A note from Randy: This week features a guest blog by Mike Robbins based on his excellent new book, Nothing Changes Until You Do.
Give this a read, and then pick up Mike’s book wherever books are sold.
Focus on What Truly Matters
These days it seems that we’re all so busy, overcommitted, and information-obsessed. Our never-ending to-do lists are long and we run around trying to “keep up” or “be important,” and in the process stress ourselves out. Unfortunately, it often takes something bad to happen to slow us down, wake us up, and force us to focus on what truly matters most in life.
In my new book, Nothing Changes Until You Do, I talk about my mom’s death from lung cancer in 2011 and all that I learned from her through that difficult experience.
Here are three of the key lessons I learned from my mom as she began to surrender and open up in the final days of her life. These are simple (although not easy) reminders for each of us:
Express Yourself—Say what you have to say; don’t hold things back. As my mom got closer to death, she began to express herself with a deeper level of authenticity and transparency. We had conversations about things we’d never talked about before and she opened up in ways that were both liberating and inspiring. Too often in life, we hold back because we’re afraid of rejection, judgment, and alienation. Expressing ourselves is about letting go of our limiting filters and living life “out loud.”
Forgive—My mom and I come from a long line of grudge holders. Like me, she could hold a grudge with the best of ’em. I watched as she began to consciously and unconsciously let go of her grudges and resentments, both big and small. It was as if she was saying, “Who cares?” When you only have a few months (or weeks) to live, the idea that “life’s too short” becomes more than a bumper sticker; it’s a reality. And, with this reality, the natural thing for us to do is to forgive those around us—and ourselves.
Surrender—While my mom clearly wasn’t happy about dying, something happened about a month and a half before she died that was truly remarkable—she surrendered. For my mom, who had a very strong will and was a fighter by nature, this probably wasn’t easy. However, watching her surrender to what was happening and embrace the process of dying was truly inspirational and life altering for those of us around her—and for her as well. So much of the beauty, healing, and transformation that occurred for her and for us during her dying process was a function of surrendering. Not giving up, giving in, or selling out, but making peace with what is and choosing to embrace life (and in this case death) as it shows up. Our ability to surrender in life is directly related to the amount of peace and fulfillment we experience.
My mom taught me and all of us that even in the face of death, it’s possible to experience joy—what a gift and a great lesson and legacy to leave behind. We don’t have to wait until painful things happen in our lives to wake us up—we can practice observing what we’re paying attention to and asking ourselves the simple but important question, Does this truly matter?
Adapted from Nothing Changes Until You Do, by Mike Robbins, with permission. Published by Hay House (May 2014) and available online or in bookstores.
Mike Robbins, CSP, is the author of three books, including his latest, Nothing Changes Until You Do. He’s a sought-after speaker whose clients include Google, Wells Fargo, eBay, Gap, Twitter, Schwab, and the San Francisco Giants. For more information about Mike and his work, visit www.Mike-Robbins.com