Today my friend Julia Elliott, editor of Metro Parent magazine, said something beautiful about how we don’t know what the ripple effect of our decisions and choices ends up being. She said it better than that, but the poetry of the idea really got me thinking.

It was in the context of inviting a friend to an event and the friend ended up in a car accident (she is fine!). Julia wondered if she had some blame in the injuries, since it was she who invited her friend to the event in the first place.

How often do we think about the impact of our choices, our outreach, our interactions with people? How often do we take responsibility for impacting others?

There are so many ways we don’t see it happen, but still it is there. A conversation with a negative tone of voice could leave a friend hurting for days. An innocuous email sent quickly could come across as abrasive. An argument with a loved one who storms away and is killed in a car accident can never be taken back, resolved or erased.

It’s cliche but true – we ought to live every day as if it were our last. How would you change your life if that were your mission?

Would you go to the job you have now? Would you fight with your spouse? Would you yell at your kids? Would you sulk and pout and moan woe is me, ever?

Why don’t we live like that? Our lives are finite. As anyone who has ever hit an OMG birthday will say, “Wow, now I’d better make sure my life makes a difference. I’d better take stock.”

It happened to me last year on the eve of my 40th. And that awakening has changed my life ever since. Now, I look at every interaction, every choice as whether it will contribute to the betterment of the world…or not.

I’m not perfect at it, I admit. I still argue and get frustrated and yes, lose my cool.

But I always make sure to love and kiss and apologize afterwards – and then have that silent conversation with myself which directs me to change my approach and perspective so I don’t repeat the same task.

Think about it. What would you change if this were your last day?

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