3 things I learned from the gift of second chances

What would you do if you could change one thing in your past? What would you do with a second chance? A chat with someone who has come face-to-face with the precious gift of life may help put things in perspective.

What if you could have a second chance at life? Any stage of life. What if you were given the opportunity to actually make the winning catch, or be the first runner to cross the finish line? Would you take it? What if you were given another chance to attend your child’s school play instead of working late? Or, granted a second chance to see your son’s home run instead of hearing about it over the phone?

What if you were granted a life of no regrets? Would you take it? Most of us lack the clarity to take a second look at the choices in our lives. We live with what we have lived. But, for some people, a life-threatening experience brings on lasting, life-changing results. A second chance, if you will, to really appreciate and celebrate the life they were given.

As a two-time survivor of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, my brother is well aware of the fragile nature of life. As I listen to him talk about his recently adopted perspective on living, I’ve come to learn a few things.

1. Little things need to remain little

Is it so important to be right that you are willing to sacrifice being happy? When you put it that way, the answer seems easy. Of course, I want to be happy. Nevertheless, how many times have I yelled at my kids for not placing dirty dishes in the dishwasher? How often do I lecture my husband on leaving wet towels on the bathroom floor? Yet, when was the last time I thanked my husband for filling my gas tank? Or, told my children how much I appreciate the fact they play together so well?

Make the choice to overlook the little things and focus on being happy with the meaningful stuff. Think about the health of your family and dear friends. Be grateful for your home, and resources to pay your bills. Let the impact of the little things be just that – little.

2. Do not postpone happiness

Reach out to the people you love. Repair relationships with those you have hurt. Find reasons to celebrate now. Tell those you care about how much you appreciate them. When you realize how short your time in this life can be, it’s surprising how little your performance at your job, or the amount of toys you have in your garage seems to matter.

After receiving the diagnosis of the fatal disease that would eventually take her life in 1996, author, Erma Bombeck offered a reflective view of what should matter in our lives when she penned, “If I Had My Life To Live Over.” Along with counseling us to go ahead and burn the fancy pink candle, she shares this final thought, “Given another shot at life, I would seize every minute … Look at it and really see it … Live it … And never give it back.”

3. Life can change in an instant. “Brace for Impact.”

In January 2009, US Airways passenger Ric Elias was onboard the ill-fated flight 1549 which, despite experiencing severe engine trouble, successfully crash-landed on a partially frozen Hudson River in New York City. Many credit the calm, confident ability of Captain Sullenberger for saving the lives of every passenger and crew member. Ric may not have known it at the time, but three words uttered by their captain in preparation for a crash landing would have a profoundly long-lasting effect on the rest of his life and the way he chose to live it.

If you don’t like the direction your life is heading, commit to make a change. Then, “Brace for impact.” Surely, surviving a plane crash illustrates the ultimate standard in second chances. As Ric puts it, it was a glimpse of the future with an opportunity to make it right.

So, what would you do with a second chance at life? Here is your chance to make it better. What could be the outcome of such a positive change? Brace for impact. The results may surprise you.

J'Nel Wright

J'Nel is a Contributing Editor at FamilyShare.com. When she isn't writing or editing, she is strongly encouraging uncooperative family members to pose for photos, golfing, playing outdoors or reading. While working on degrees in English and Social Work, she visited French Polynesia, parts of South America, Egypt, Indonesia, Europe, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, and much of the United States. She remained in town long enough to earn a BA in English from the University of Utah. J'Nel's motto: Have suitcase. Will travel.