It’s common for people to think about putting their mark on the world and leaving it a better place than when they arrived.
But in many cases people fail to put those thoughts into action – possibly because they’re hesitant to step outside their comfort zones.
“Too often we’re taught to be fearful and that hampers the actions we take and the decisions we make,” says John C. Neyland, author of How to Live the Life You’ve Yet to Dream (www.johnneyland.com).
“We need to be taught to be courageous.”
He experienced his own challenges growing up, suffering the wrath of an abusive father and trying to overcome obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) that left him burdened by stress.
“I know what it’s like to need help and not have it,” Neyland says. “But that has given me the impetus to want to help and make a difference in the lives of others – whether those others are family members or strangers.”
And there’s no time like the present to begin, he says. As people make their resolutions for the New Year, he suggests a good place to start for having a positive impact on family and others is to vow to:
• Be the kind of spouse you would like to have. Neyland grew up watching his father abuse his mother and he vowed things would be different for him. “If I accomplish every goal I have in life but if I don’t treat my wife the way I should, then for me my life would have no purpose,” Neyland says. He suggests an unusual benchmark – eulogies – for setting the standard for how you treat your spouse. People usually speak with great respect of the deceased in eulogies, Neyland says, but why wait until then to show someone how much you honor them? “Why not treat your loved ones as if you honor them every day?”
• Be the kind of parent you would have liked to have had. Think back on your childhood and consider what your parents did right and what they did wrong. You can learn from both. Everyone understands the value of loving parents who invest time in their children and set a good example. “There have been times I haven’t measured up,” Neyland says, “but I truly give it my all.”
• Enable others to have a life they otherwise would not have had. Human nature often causes us to think about ourselves. But to live better lives, we also need to think about others, Neyland says. He has made it a mission to help underprivileged young people improve their lives. “When you help that one person, good things can result,” Neyland says. “Imagine if the person you helped also is inspired to help someone else. And that person helps someone else, and so on.”
“The value of our lives is measured by how we leave others in our wake, whether it’s our spouses, our children or the person down the street,” Neyland says. “Plan on helping someone, somewhere or somehow on a regular basis. If you do this and do it earnestly, you’ll be surprised at what it does for your own life.”