When my dying friend came to me and asked if I would write a book about her life, I agreed to do it . . . for her. There was no way I was going to say no. I am so proud that so many people have been inspired by Sunshine’s amazing story of adventure, courage, and resilience.
However, now that she has passed, it’s become clear that writing a book about someone who truly lived in the moment, and who’s life was a series of opportunities she said “yes” to—holding nothing back—to experience life to the fullest, was a lesson I needed to learn.
In the past, I would always sign my books differently—a challenge to myself to be in the moment. Yet for my book about Sunshine I found myself often writing the same inscription: “This is the time of your life, make the most of every moment.” It’s something I needed to remind myself of because by nature I’m a worrier.
From Sunshine I learned that much of what bothered me were things I would dredge up from the past. I know this because she told me, “Lee, you can’t change the past, it’s out of your control. Let it go.” She was right, of course. Her advice was to “F” it. Forgive yourself (and others), forget about it, or find a way to learn from it.
Sunshine could see right through me and often when we would meet to talk about her life and her book she would turn it around and the session would be about me. She would ask, “What’s bothering you?” I would reply that I was worried about this or that—things that were way off in the future.
Here advice was to let go of the outcome (which I can’t control anyway) and focus on the process—the things I can do now. (Basically, my choices of what to do, and how I do them, are what create my tomorrow.) Her take was that fear comes from worrying about the future. Sunshine would often tell me to have hope, believe that things would work out the way they were supposed to, and that the universe would provide if I started moving in that direction now.
My biggest regret is that Sunshine passed away before her book was published. I so wanted to sit side by side and sign books together. To see her smile as she took pictures with people holding up the novel based on her life. I know I have no control over when she died, so I focus on what I can do now to honor her. I do that by living in the moment, and at this moment sharing her wise words with you.
Action Items Focus on the Now
If you find yourself slipping into regret about the past or worry and fear for the future, let the thought through and then reset yourself with your next (deep breath). Then refocus on the here and now and resume what you are doing with a better mindset.
Wear a bracelet, put a small sticky dot on your phone, set an alarm, put a Post-it Note on the wall to check in and remind you to be 100% focused on what you are doing, who you’re with, and where you are.
We can’t change the past, but we can learn from it so do something better today than you did yesterday. We can’t control the future, but we can do things today to make tomorrow better. If we let go of the past and let go of outcomes and instead just do the best we can with what’s right in front of us, there is a lot less stress.
If you have not read Sunshine’s inspiring life story, here’s a link to the novel based on her life. (Still the best book I’ve ever written.) Let me know if you order a copy. It makes me feel good to know her message is getting out there.