With the births of my second granddaughter and first grandson years ago, I realized more than ever that this period of awareness we share is fleeting, uncertain and fragile.
In 2007 I offered personal advice for Keirston, Elizabeth and Trenton about what to expect as they matured, from a grandfather who continually falls short of his own well-intentioned messages.
I'm repeating those messages today in hopes other parents and grandparents will make the effort to share them with their own beloved youngsters. I believe we are destined to repeat the lessons until mastering their truths.
First, remember that to anyone else outside your family, you are not the most important person in life. They are. Everything you disclose is being filtered through their eyes and how your information affects them rather than you.
Others will use written and spoken words to convince you to do what they want, so make your decisions based solely on their actions. You can never know the motives behind those who seek to influence you.
Make then keep close friends who have proven values and a strong sense of right from wrong. Seek direction from those who you know have your best interests at heart and from the enduring and divine truths found in the Holy Bible.
Genuine love is not anything close to hormonally inspired infatuation and its irrational effects. It also is not the same as "making love." While the word is the same, the realities are far different. Real love always willingly gives at least as much as it takes and often far more.
Rely on prayer. It calms your soul. And I've found it's most effective when offered in selfless surrender and honest emotion.
You will find happiness only within yourself. Others cannot provide it. And it's unfair and unrealistic to place pressure to make you happy on another fallible person with their own needs and desires.
Always make solid choices rooted in facts before acting. As life progresses, you will become the product of every choice you make, large and small.
Find ways to laugh often, especially at your own mistakes and shortcomings. Belly laughs are best. Appreciate life for all the remarkable beauty, balance and color it offers, and rejoice in the gift of such wonders.
Try to stay balanced in all you do. It's when we lose balance in our lives that troubles take root and grow. Avoid the extremes. You will make mistakes and poor choices because you are human and sometimes fail to think everything through before acting. Forgive yourself. Then face, root out and overcome the inevitable problems as they arise.
Worry never changes any outcome, so refuse to do it despite the natural urge to fret. Whatever happens will happen and you will deal with it if and when it arises.
Never be afraid to speak for what you believe is right. Your soul is not tested by always agreeing with--and appeasing--others. History is made by those who follow their hearts and consciences rather than the sheeplike followers.
Never be mean to animals, children or the elderly. Like you, the aged also once were youthful and seemingly bulletproof. God willing you too will arrive at that point one day.
Appreciate all you receive. Remember none of us truly "deserve" anything other than what we earn for ourselves. It's true that we only get to keep what we're willing to give away.
When respect or trust vanish, a relationship will crumble. Take nothing for granted, especially those you cherish. Always strive to keep your word. The promises you make comprise the essence of everything you represent in the eyes of others.
Your actions always result in consequences. When you know you are at fault, don't blame others. Accept responsibility for all you say and do. A sincere apology can work wonders.
When you fall, get back in the game right away. The successes will come, and you will develop vital character in the process to serve you well throughout life.
Never allow others to determine how you perceive yourself. Others can use criticism to make themselves feel better or gain advantage. All that matters is how you view who you know yourself to be.
Filling your conscious moments with activities (electronic or otherwise) leaves no room for others, or for your creator to offer constructive guidance. Such diversions can keep you from making truly informed choices because you are wasting so much valuable time on matters of irrelevance to your happiness and fulfillment.
Along life's pathway, recognize that what might seem to be coincidence is actually the guiding spiritual hand that continually opens life's doors and paths toward your sense of purpose while closing others in ways that might at first appear confusing.
Finally, always express confidence in everything you undertake and do. Doing so can make all the difference between success and failure. Realize this life, which feels in the exuberance of youth as if it will last forever, passes in virtually the flash of a firefly's tail.
Now go out into the world and treat everyone you meet exactly like you want them to treat you.
Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at [email protected]