On Aug. 15, I turned 87 years young. Yes, I have been incredibly blessed with good health, a wonderful wife of 50 years, four terrific and successful children, and four outstanding grandchildren—also all successful.
I grew up in eastern Pennsylvania, spending summers with my maternal grandparents on a lake in Maine. I learned a primitive lifestyle living in a cabin with no electricity or indoor plumbing. I also learned to swim, fish, boat, explore, camp out, and appreciate many of God’s wonders. These are some of the best memories of my incredible life.
I went to college, played a couple of sports (learning what real teamwork is), served as a captain in the Army, worked for two large corporations, and started and ran my own business. We sold our business in 1995 and built a home on the Sea of Cortez in the lower Baja of Mexico. We spent six months a year there fishing, kayaking, and learning to love the Mexican people. I kayaked over 300 miles of the Sea of Cortez coastline.
At the age of 75, I rode my bicycle from Los Angeles to Boston, and two years later rode from Portland, Maine, to Daytona Beach, Florida. Are you getting the picture of how very blessed I’ve been? But all of this didn’t just happen. I, with the help of many others, made it happen!
Today, we live in beautiful Southern Oregon. I am humbled and privileged to be able to “give back” to my church and my community. I am blessed to be a Christian and believe in God and his Son. One of the main things in my life today is talking to others about this beautiful opportunity.
I am a very strong patriot; I wear red, white, and blue on July 4 and I’m proud of it. I truly believe that I was born in, and have lived, in the greatest country ever developed—and I have lived in the best years that this country has ever had. Today, I am disappointed in how my generation and the generation behind me have allowed our great United States of America to slip in so many important areas. But, being the eternal optimist, I also believe it’s not too late to turn the tide that will help get us back on track. For this to happen, we need our younger generations to put on some red, white, and blue—step up, and take charge!
Over the years, I have learned some very important lessons—some of them the hard way! This put me on the path of collecting “words of wisdom.” They have helped me put a smile on my face and a bounce in my steps. With your permission, I’d like to share some of these with you. I would also encourage you to share them with your friends and family. Write them down, memorize them, and practice them.
- Put a smile on your face—and mean it.
- Work on maintaining a positive attitude in talk, in your walk, and everything you do. You’ll find that it’s contagious and will rub off on other people.
- Read and learn the history of our great country and what made it special in the first place.
- Put down the digital devices and get out there and help a friend, family member, neighbor, older person, or even a homeless person. The opportunities are endless. Every good deed you do gives that person the opportunity to “pay it forward” to someone else.
- Put love in your heart and share it with everyone—regardless of color, religion, sexual orientation, or political affiliation.
- Open up your mind and your heart to our God and his Son. Find a church home and a mentor to help you. Read and study the Bible. It’s the greatest book ever written.
- Privileged or not, find a way to start “giving back” in time, talent, energy, and money. Use whatever “options” work for you at any particular moment in your life.
- On the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, and other U.S. holidays, put an American flag out in front of your house or apartment. Wear red, white, and blue! Be proud of your country and say thanks to all of those that have served to make it great.
- Happiness is not about getting all that you want. It’s about enjoying all that you have!
- You can’t change the past, but you can change what you do about the future.
- Don’t ever forget this: It takes years to build up trust, and only seconds to destroy it.
- It’s not what you have in your life, but who you have that counts the most.
- You don’t have to change friends if you understand that friends change.
- Our backgrounds and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.
- People will forget what you said and what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
- Be patient! Sometimes, you have to go through tough times in order to get to the best. Work hard, work smart! Good things take time!
- Respect is one of the greatest expressions of love.
- Rather than striving to fit in, have the courage to be exactly who you are.
- Anyone can run away from problems. That’s the easy route. Facing problems and working through them is what makes you strong!
- Peace is the result of training your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.
- May your life “preach” more loudly than your lips!
- Waking up to see another day is a blessing. Don’t take it for granted. Make it count and be happy that you’re alive.
- If you don’t leave your past in the past, it can destroy your future. Learn from it! Live for what today has to offer, not what yesterday has taken away.
- Today, remind yourself that your soul is beautiful, your mind is powerful, that you have a heart of gold, and you have so much to be grateful for.
OK, as you can tell, I’m a pretty positive guy! If some of this has rubbed off on you, I hope you’ll pass it along—and thank you so much for helping make this a better world! Bless you and yours!
Hank Darlington, Oregon
What advice would you like to give to the younger generations?
We call on all of our readers to share the timeless values that define right and wrong and pass the torch, if you will, through your wisdom and hard-earned experience. We feel that the passing down of this wisdom has diminished over time and that only with a strong moral foundation can future generations thrive.
Send your advice, along with your full name, state, and contact information to NextGeneration@epochtimes.com or mail it to: Next Generation, The Epoch Times, 229 W. 28th St., Floor 7, New York, NY 10001.