Dear Next Generation: ‘Take Each Day as an Opportunity to Be Better—Be a Better You’

April 5, 2021 Updated: April 5, 2021

Dear next generation,

Wisdom is not a product of time, but a product of applied knowledge enhanced through the opportunity of time. We have had a year of uncertainty and wild calamity, yet it has presented the proposition of change and, most importantly, wisdom. As the world around us may take a dive or seem to expand and contract with the ever-confusing media highlights, this volatility will forever be existential. It is inescapable. With that knowledge, applied, let us all use wisdom to move forward.

Take each day as an opportunity to be better—be a better you. Open your eyes when you awake and say to yourself (or out loud), “Today is a beautiful day and opportunity to be great!” We all must focus our energy and time on the power of positive thinking and affirmations, to bring the energy that is necessary to heed hope and positive change in the world. Recognize that as much as we try to control our outer world first through vehement expression of our opinions, destruction of physical constructs, or mass organization of supporters, we must all first control ourselves.

Our mind and behavior are collinear. Take note of the next time you feel calm and collected—what are your thoughts? Or the next time you are angry and frustrated—what are your thoughts? If we all take the time daily to breathe deeply and give ourselves the chance to awake with positivity and to begin on a deeper understanding of ourselves, we can then begin to effect change in our outside world. When we find our minds wandering through thoughts of doubt and recklessness, let’s all stop, take a deep breath, and believe: “Today is an opportunity to be great. Remain calm, breathe. Smile with joy. Share compassion with others.” With repetition of this behavior, we teach ourselves to exude acceptance and to relax our hearts and minds. Yes, we all can still “fight” for what is “right,” but we do this not under the duress of anger, but through the freedom of love of ourselves and compassion for others.

Mike Numon, Connecticut

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Dear next generation,

The following is how my husband and I have lived our lives. It was defined over many years, but was always at the base of what we did as individuals and as a family. Good luck.

“Work Hard, Play Hard, Eat Well” is my response to people who ask how we have stayed active and healthy well into our senior years. My husband is 79 and goes to work every day at the family business we started in 1979. At 77, I am retired from my “paycheck” job that I loved but continue to do the accounting and all the paperwork involved in running a successful business.

We have been married for 56 years and decided early on that we were not going to fight over money and would never make decisions without in-depth discussions about the pros and cons. We were very conservative and in hindsight maybe too much so. Our first priority in making decisions was our family. They came first. We taught our two children and two granddaughters the “Work Hard, Play Hard, Eat Well” ethic, and they are all successful in their chosen professions.

Work Hard: Start by working hard at your getting a good education, one that has employment possibilities. You don’t have to have a bachelor’s degree to earn a good living, but you do have to have a skill. Along with that skill, you must be willing to go above and beyond the job requirements. Work those extra few minutes, volunteer to help, make suggestions to improve your job.

Have options. Develop skills that give you multiple avenues to get a great job. You will change careers once or twice before you retire, but you need the skills and knowledge to get that new job. Work hard at learning something new all your life. That new vocation or avocation might be waiting for you. You must find a job that you love, not one you go to just for the paycheck.

Play Hard: Playing is your reward for working hard. Find activities that fit your lifestyle. Is traveling your thing? Do you enjoy sitting by a campfire in the mountains? Are you happiest when you are skiing, swimming, boating, or rock climbing? Make a bucket list that has your wildest dreams about the things you want to do. Prioritize and get started. Our list started with the really physical things that we knew could not wait until we retired, like rafting down the Colorado River, riding our motorcycle over 300,000 miles, off-road jeeping, and camping. Don’t put off playing hard for later in life because life happens and you don’t want to wish you had done the things that make you happy.

Eat Well: My best advice. Learn to cook. Teach your kids to cook. Sit down with your family for as many meals a day as you can. We always had breakfast and dinner together. You cannot eat well by eating all your meals in a restaurant. In order to keep your mind and body working at maximum efficiency, you need good food that is real food. Cut out the chemicals. Buy fresh! If you can’t get fresh, buy frozen; skip the canned, if at all possible. If the chemical list is longer than the real food list, don’t buy it. Busy lifestyles and conflicting schedules can make eating together as a family impossible, but make an effort. Sit down with your family and enjoy! Make your meals a family affair!

This simple formula has worked well for us. Of course, there are things we would do differently if we could start over, but the work, play, eat component will always be part of our lives. Be happy, work hard, and enjoy!

Annette Kirk, California

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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 NextGeneration@epochtimes.com or mail it to: Next Generation, The Epoch Times, 229 W. 28th St., Floor 7, New York, NY 10001