Especially this time of year when we reflect on new beginnings and making substantive change, we love summing up in succinct and memorable phrases how we wish to live our lives.
Well, I’ve heard many mottos and catch phrases, but – and I’ve done the research on this – I think the Gallen family motto has them all beat. We don’t claim to have originated the compilation of these six words but we certainly do our best to adhere to them.
In this season of new beginnings, I encourage you all to live well, laugh often, love much.
To me, living well has always dealt with one’s character. Living well is about where we focus our time and energies. Living well means being actively engaged in life instead of cowering in our caves of comfort. Living well to me is about authenticity. It’s about living from the deepest and truest essence of ourselves.
To live well means to live by excellence. Perfection is a myth. There’s only ever been one person who was perfect and he died for you and me. The rest of us aren’t so lucky.
To live well means to be kind and understanding. To stand up and fight for your beliefs but not to tear down others for disagreeing with you.
Living well means caring for what has been given to us; being good stewards of our lives. To live well means engaging in the world. It isn’t easy, but it sure beats the alternative.
We take life way too seriously. (Seriously!) Ensuring we have laughter in our lives is essential to keeping us from getting caught up with the things we often think are so important in our lives. I always like to think I have mastered laugh often. I mean, I don’t just laugh often. I laugh just about all the time. But I still stumble into fits of taking life too seriously.
Laughing often encompasses the joy and wonder of our lives. When we experience something truly awe-inspiring or wonderful, we can’t help but smile and let out a gleeful laugh. Far too often, we get stuck with our heads down, focused instead on that which take us away from the wonder of creation.
God calls us to be like children when we come to him. This is because of all the wonders in the universe, He is the most wondrous of all. Also, he knows how easily we adults fall into the trap of seriousness. At their truest, children accept all, don’t seek to fully understand, and simply embrace the amazing things that they experience. Their only response is to laugh. And often. (See what I did there?)
This is the most important piece of the puzzle. As St. Paul reminds us in Corinthians: Without love we are nothing. We may have faith, we may have hope; we may speak with the smoothest eloquence, but without love? Forget it. Our lives will never be complete. And let’s be honest here: Without love, it is simply impossible to live well or laugh often. When we fail to love much, our lives are always empty.
What does love much look like? I’ll admit, though I talk a big game, this is the most difficult of the motto for me to exercise in my own life. Sure, it’s easy to love my family, friends, and even myself. But, like Jesus said, if all I do is love the lovable, what good is that? The true test of love much is to reflect the fierce and ruthless love of Jesus to all of whom we meet – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
When we love much we break down barriers, alter perceptions, and melt cold hearts. To love much means being generous beyond comprehension and never asking for anything in return.
Yes, when we love much, we even change the world.