Don’t count every hour in the day, make every hour in the day count. – Author Unknown
After spending decades in healthcare administration, navigating the red tape and bureaucracy that steers the most intimate and vulnerable times in our life — when we are sick or dying — I decided it wasn’t right.
It wasn’t right for patients to be cooped up in a cold hospital where nurses were overburdened with too many patients. It wasn’t right that families were pulled away from a critical patient to discuss insurance and payments. It wasn’t right that patients’ last wishes were not being honored as DNRs were overlooked for the doctor’s preference.
That’s when I decided there was a better alternative.
Dying with dignity
I founded my first hospice care company in 1994. My core philosophy was to treat patients in their homes, or, when their symptoms couldn’t be safely managed at home, in comfortable inpatient hospice homes, with as much love and care as I would give my own loved ones.
For nearly two decades I have done everything I can to make the end-of-life as positive an experience as possible by always focusing on the quality of life — of living. I have put my heart and soul into the concept of dying with dignity, surrounded by your loved ones.
What I didn’t expect was the lessons I learned from the patients, their families and my own colleagues along the way.
At the end of life, most people reflect on where they’ve been, where they think they are going, what they most enjoyed from life, what they regret. For me, being there at this time, I was honored to learn from their insight, be inspired from what they learned from life.
I ended up discovering what makes a quality life. After years of milling it over in my mind and living my life accordingly, I have finally composed it in a book, SuperEagle: Soar With Your Muses to Create Infinite Possibilities. Here are ten tips I have learned to make each day of your life count.
Personal connections are key to people at the end of their lives – and throughout life. The happiest patients and other individuals I know are surrounded by people they love – family, friends, even colleagues. They know how to form a bond to last a lifetime. They made these connections throughout their lives and kept in touch, reaching out, listening with empathy and love, celebrating each other’s successes. Nurture personal and professional relationships with unwavering dedication to love and kindness and they will reap their own rewards.
- THINK POSITIVE
Your outlook should be positive and exciting if you want to live a life buoyed by happiness. Think about what can be done instead of dwelling on the “what ifs.” A positive outlook truly can determine life or death, success or failure, happiness or despair.
- LIVE WITH PURPOSE
Purpose is what keeps us moving forward in life – engaging our very souls with passion. Passion is so important to living a fulfilling life. Feeling an inner-bone passion for that which you are spending energy on makes that energy well spent. Make your purpose one that forever changes the lives around you — making the world a better place.
- EMBRACE VISION
The most accomplished people I have known have had a vision for their lives. Not just what they want to do for work, but how they want to live outside of their careers. Your life plan should include an executive summary that says who you are, what you can do, what you want to do and why. Having this vision for your life will help you do the things that make you feel the most fulfilled.
- DON’T BE AFRAID
Don’t let fear limit what you have to offer the world. It’s important to acknowledge fear when it is present, feel it and discover where it comes from, and then move on. Don’t let it immobilize your dreams and stand in your way.
- FIND BALANCE
Come to center everyday by engaging in healthy routines that reinvigorate you. A fun, balanced and purpose-driven life will make you feel deeply satisfied. Recurring healthy routines provide consistency and security, but flexibility keeps life interesting and welcomes new opportunities.
- BE PRESENT
Being able to live in the moment has been an imperative trait in the most peaceful patients I have known. The ability to feel the present moment, savor each minute of each day…not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Soul-to-soul listening also grounds you in the present; you must be fully here and now to give someone your undivided attention. This also helps with making those imperative personal connections.
Touch can break through barriers and has proven benefits for the mind, body and spirit. The power of touch engages us with those around us, connects us to the world.
This reflective exercise is quickly becoming a regular part of routine medical treatment. The ability to relax the body, focus on simple things like breathing and picture your recovery is vital to success. A few minutes, or a few hours, of meditation every day will help you defuse your stress and sets a tranquil tone for a happier, more peace-filled life.
- BE CREATIVE
Think creatively, act decisively and collaborate intently to nurture that which you are passionate about. Creativity does not have to be limited to those with artistic talent. Think outside the box, add an extra ingredient to spice up your traditional dish, dance by yourself…adding just bits of creativity here and there nourishes the soul.