In January 2004 a Hungarian football player who was playing for one of the Portuguese football teams, Miklós “Miki” Fehér, died of cardiac arrest during a match. This was highly documented by the media as the game was being broadcast live on television when it happen. He leaned forward and then fell backwards. His team mates and the other team players tried to help, the medical team tried everything they could, he was taken to the hospital, but unfortunately there was nothing they could do. He was 24.
I am not a big football fan but I was watching the match with my granddad and my cousins and I remember it vividly: the faces of his team mates, how worried, desperate and emotional they all looked; that moment we all realized it was something really bad. Still gives me goose bumps recalling it.
For the weeks following, all you could hear everywhere was: “I got home that day and kissed my wife and told her how much I loved her”; “I called my kids and told them I love them”; “I went skydiving as I always wanted to do it”; “it really made me rethink my life”; “I called my parents”. I think it’s a beautiful thing to transform such a sad moment into an inspiration to live a better life. At the same time I kept thinking “it’s so obvious, why did people need to see Feher die to remind them they should live their lives and enjoy the people they love?”. Because most people take it for granted. We’re all so busy in our day-to-day things that sometimes we forget how fragile life is, and that in a second, everything can change.
I’ve always felt quite different in that respect. Not to sound like a “know-it-all illuminated being” or whatever, but I remember always being so happy and taking joy in the smallest things. When I was a child and during my early teens I never wanted to be older than I was, I enjoyed every single moment of it and I was so happy. In Uni I remember telling my friends all the time “you know those people who find out they have cancer and quit the jobs they hate, go travel or go work somewhere they really wanted to, and start enjoying their life? Well I am one of those people, but fortunately I didn’t get the cancer (and pray to the Universe I never will).” It’s weird that I have always had this sense of urgency, of Carpe Diem, given that (until recently) I never had close deaths in the family. I grew up with all grandparents, parents, siblings, everyone. I guess I just somehow realized how temporary it all is.
OK, I had a few gloomy years, I’ll grant you that, mostly during high school, but when you’re a teen in high school you’re supposed to focus more on all the dramas in your life than anything else (I guess). That or I was just stupid, but anyways I moved on from that, and I firmly believe you should enjoy your time here as much as possible.
This doesn’t mean you should say or text “I love you” to everyone you know every second of the day, or that you should live like there’s no tomorrow, or give up on everything all together. It doesn’t mean you can’t be grumpy or angry from time to time, you are still a human being. Talking about this yesterday, a friend of mine said: “think about the future, sure, but just to a point. You have to enjoy your time here”. I couldn’t agree more. You have to enjoy your time here.
Don’t text “I love you” every second, but make sure your loved ones know you love them.
Don’t live like there’s no tomorrow, but don’t live like it’s going to last forever either. Just don’t take it for granted and always appreciate the things that are most important to you. Find an occupation that makes you happy and (if possible) save some money, because hopefully there will be many tomorrows in your life and it will come handy. Maybe you’ll even have kids and they’ll have loads of tomorrows, and grandkids and so on. But don’t kid yourself, you won’t live forever. You may live to 24 or 100. Regardless of how many years you live, just make them count.
Don’t live a life full of regrets; do the things you want to do, take the time to stop and think “is this it?” and if it’s not, make a change. If you chose to go on doing something you don’t like with another purpose in mind – mortgage payments for the house you really like, put your kids through college, opening your own business, etc. – whatever your goal is, hold on to that goal and fully embrace your choice. No regrets. But don’t forget to enjoy yourself while doing it.
Don’t dwell on little things, silly fights, getting upset at random things. Try to be at peace all the time with yourself and your loved ones. The last thing you want is to be parted with someone you love when you’re fighting; honestly, people will be heartbroken for life for not mending things up when they had the chance.
Take pleasure in the little things in life: going out with your friends, seeing a wonderful sunset, a sunny day, spotting a perfect rainbow, the smell of rain, the smell of chocolate, fall, Christmas carols, winning a freebie at Burger king (true story), having the family all together, laughing at something silly, spending a whole rainy afternoon re-watching your favorite movies… whatever makes you happy, as small and silly or big and great as it may be, it’s your happiness, treasure it. Take the time to look around and see how blessed you are.
Spend more time with those who make you the happiest. Don’t miss out on the lives of those you love. Your family, spouse, friends. Enjoy as much time as you can and make them a priority. It’s well known that one of the biggest regrets people have is spending more time at work than with their loved ones.
Most of all, celebrate every day because every day is a gift.
I try to follow these rules. I enjoy our little moments; I never leave the house angry at my better-half or go to sleep upset at anyone I love; I try to be kind to everyone throughout the day and to take notice of all the nice little things that surround me. I’ll still have bad days, when I’m upset, angry, something annoyed me, and I complain; it’s normal, you’re “living the moment”, you’re not a sucker. But at the end of the day, when I get home, I realize how lucky I am and take a moment to be thankful. For everyone I have in my live, for those I love who love me back, for all the good friends I have, and for our wonderful family.
People who know they are dying would sometimes give everything to go back to that blissful ignorance and would rather be able to take it for granted. But I think regardless of your situation you should always try to enjoy the moment, seize your days, and make the most of it.
A few years back, two amazing parents made a short film documenting the life of their baby, Eliot Hartman Mooney, who was diagnosed with Trisomy 18. He wasn’t supposed to survive birth, but he lived for 99 days, and they celebrated every single day. It’s very emotional I warn you. But it’s wonderfully eye-opening.
Again, I don’t think you should live like there is no tomorrow, thinking you’ll die any second now. All I am saying is we should appreciate how blessed we are, take the time to do the things we love and be with the ones we cherish the most. Don’t just open your eyes when something tragic happens; try to have them open all the time. Try to be thankful and appreciate life. Enjoy and celebrate every day.