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My lessons from my brother’s brush with death

A few months ago, I shared the story of my brother’s journey from a near-fatal motorcycle accident and years of recovery to living fully. While I wasn’t the one fighting to live, then to get better, this experience had an undeniable impact on me. These 6 truths have stayed with me for the rest of my life, and I hope you will find them helpful, too:

1. Focus on what you can control

Something so unexpected and drastic stops you in your tracks. You’re in disbelief. I certainly was. For days, I was waiting for someone to wake me up from my nightmare. Until reality sank in. All the “what if”s ran through my head, stirring up a myriad of emotions. I knew that I needed to acknowledge and process these emotions in order to move forward. And I knew that I needed to sort through what was within my control and what was not. I needed to stay focused on what was right in front of me and what I could do something about.

2. Do not take for granted anyone or anything

I was never the type who took people and things for granted. But this experience skyrocketed my appreciation for life and “the present moment” to a whole new level. Treasure each day and experience as if it was your last. Smile, hug, kiss and say your “I love you’s”. You’re never too old, too young or too anything to show appreciation and affection for another human being. Aim to resolve issues instead of keeping them bottled up inside.

You're never too old, too young or too anything to show appreciation and affection for another human being. Click To Tweet

3. Practice gratitude

Finding the little moments you can be grateful for makes the present more powerful and helps you carry on. Learn to see greatness in the mundane things and always remember rule #2. I wrote about how to develop a gratitude attitude here.

4. Live with no regrets

This was another biggie for me. That trip you’ve been wanting to take for 5 years? Nike it (a.k.a. Just do it)! That business you’ve been wanting to start? Start it! Go after what you want. Plan for it and take calculated risks. There aren’t many things worse than saying “I wish I…” on your deathbed.

Don’t let fear kill your dreams. Click To Tweet

5. Realize that we are all just trying our best

Everybody will have his or her unique reaction to the same situation. You can’t expect everyone to react the same way as you. Some people will respond with anger, some people will be lost. Everyone’s reaction will come from their past programming, projected onto the new situation. This can cause friction. These reactions don’t necessarily mean that people don’t care. It will often mean that they do—they care a great deal, but how they manifest it in light of tragedy will depend on where they are on their individual journey of life. When that happens, go back to rule #1: focus on what you can control—your own thoughts, emotions and behaviors.

6. Take care of yourself

One of the reasons why my brother was able to pull through and recover as well as he did was because of his mental, physical and emotional strength. Yes, great medical care, luck and other factors played a role, too, but his mental stamina during recovery and his strong fitness level at the time of the accident were highlighted even by medical professionals. Take good care of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally. You never know when you may need your strength for yourself—or for a loved one.

I remind myself of these lessons every day and live by the motto that nothing and nobody should be taken for granted. And with that comes a great sense of gratitude and a strong desire to accumulate enriching experiences in life. What’s your motto?

Image by Talya Wilson,

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