Dear sons, I want you to know what an amazing, beautiful place this world can be. Of course, there are difficulties and adversities to overcome, but there are also triumphs and splendors to relish. I want both of you to search for and see the beauty on this earth because life truly is what you make of it. If you wallow in the negative and allow the bad people to engulf you, your life will be miserable, but if you accept the bad as opportunities to learn and grow, then you can appreciate the good. Simply put, your life on this earth can be either heaven or hell, and the only thing that determines which is your attitude.
That’s not to say the hard times and bad people can’t be challenging. There will come moments in your life when you feel hopeless. There are obstacles that will seem insurmountable. There are pains that feel overwhelming. But even the worst storms of my life have eventually passed, and once they have gone, I’ve come out the other side a better man, not because there is anything special about me but because I’ve allowed myself to learn and mature. Sitting here at 39 and looking at my life, I can honestly say that today I understand the importance of how my attitude and perspective shape the way I respond to both the good and bad.
For you boys, I hope you learn this early and follow it throughout your lives. You will be much happier and healthier if you live with a positive attitude. Life has a way of giving back to you what you send out, and the people who are the most miserable, in my experience, are the people who wallow in self-pity and look for someone or something to blame and never learn to accept their own part in their failures. On the other hand, the happiest are those who take responsibility for their own lives, learn from their mistakes, and forgive the people who have wronged them. That’s the kind of person I want you both to grow into.
The best advice I can give you for achieving this end is to find pleasure in and appreciate the mundane. Notice and relish as many sunrises and sunsets as you can, for each is unique and spectacular. Notice the beauty and sophistication of nature, for even the simplest blade of grass is a miracle of complexity. Respect and appreciate the fragility of life, all life, for death is the one bond we all share, from the simplest bacteria to the most complex person. If you’ll wake each day aware of these simple things and appreciate each day as a new opportunity to have a positive impact on the world, you will be much happier, and my wish for both of you is to find your happiness and live your lives growing into the best of who you are.