Dear Next Generation: A List for Every Day

Dear Next Generation: A List for Every Day
Dear Next Generation, an advice column from readers to young people. (Photo by Shutterstock)
I came across it when my mother died. Going through the obligatory paperwork, letters, and odds and ends, I found a list scrawled on a creased envelope among old bills and receipts. I held it in my hand, transported back to the day, many years ago, when I was young. I had given my mom an article from the Reader's Digest that had caught my fancy entitled "Bloom Where You Are Planted." It was a reader's true story of her Aunt Rose, I believe was her name, a maiden aunt who created a daily list to keep her going after her true love died in World War I. My eyes glistened with tears as I read aloud my mom's own interpretation in her handwriting of what to do each day:

1. Do Something for Someone Else

Well, this seems easy enough. Even if it's a compliment to the checkout clerk at the grocery store, or a smile to a stranger. Even better, holding a door open for someone, or taking a deep breath and allowing the cranky driver to cut impatiently in front of you on a busy trafficky afternoon when you yourself are in a hurry. Putting the dishes in the sink for a family member. ... OK, done.

2. Do Something for Yourself

This will be hard for many of us. Stressed-out parents, teachers, and health care workers are by nature those who give give give, with little or no thought of taking time out for a relaxing walk, a nap, a massage, or even a treat. Shakespeare wrote [in "Henry V"], "Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin as self-neglecting," and if we do for ourselves, love ourselves, we can better serve others. Charity really begins with loving and taking care of ourselves.

3. Do Something That Needs to Be Done That You Don't Want to Do

A tough one for me! Picking up the dog poop, laundry, taxes, dishes, the list is endless. Homework, housework, answering emails or texts or letters. We can procrastinate all we want, and those chores will still stubbornly exist. It's amazing that once you get up and "get it done," the next thing doesn't seem so hard.
The note found by reader Nancy Jane Smeets. (Courtesy of Nancy Jane Smeets)
The note found by reader Nancy Jane Smeets. (Courtesy of Nancy Jane Smeets)

4. Physical Exercise

I admit I enjoy combining No. 2 and No. 4! Riding my horse ticks off both those boxes, as it is extremely strenuous and super fun. Moving your precious body God gave you should be a joy! Of course, a trip to the gym may be more like maintenance, but lots of us really like going to the gym as well. A little stroll around the block will suffice and get you outside. Dance! Yoga, tennis, golf, soccer, pickleball, you name it!

5. Mental Exercise

Hmmm ... does Facebook or Instagram or any social media count? No, that's really entertainment, isn't it? How about picking up a really good book. Checking out a phrase or two in a foreign language just for the heck of it; learn how to say "thank you" in Portuguese. Crosswords, puzzles, a game of cards. A muscular conversation with someone who has opposing opinions—now that's a mental exercise!

6. Original Prayer

In the lovely Reader's Digest story, the author was surprised to find out that this was her Aunt Rose's most difficult challenge for the day. Over the years, I have come to love this one, and have my own "list" when I pray; for my family and friends (those whom I love and those who love me); those most misfortunate and going through the roughest time; our country, our children, our leaders, our planet ... give thanks for my blessings ... You get the idea. This prayer will come from your heart, and God will always listen.

My mother's birthday was just the other day, and I cherish this little scrap of envelope from her. I'm so grateful it found its way into my hand and wasn't resigned to the dustbin, but lingers here now—to be able to share this simple recipe for a happy, productive life with this generation, the next generation and, hopefully, many more to come.

Nancy Jane Smeets, California ___

Yes, put God first in your life. He made you and knows all about you, knows your thoughts, even when you don’t think them. His love is greater than any love we experience on earth!

Be thankful for the air you can breathe, the fact that you're alive! Strike the words, “I’m bored” from your vocabulary!

Look for beauty, there's always something beautiful to see! Listen for sounds that are calming: a friend’s voice, a loved one’s voice, a child’s laughter, music that speaks to your heart.

Appreciate your friends and family before it’s too late.

David Harrell


What advice would you like to give to the younger generations?
We call on all of our readers to share the timeless values that define right and wrong and pass the torch, if you will, through your wisdom and hard-earned experience. We feel that the passing down of this wisdom has diminished over time and that only with a strong moral foundation can future generations thrive.
Send your advice, along with your full name, state, and contact information to or mail it to: Next Generation, The Epoch Times, 229 W. 28th St., Floor 7, New York, NY 10001.
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