20 Life-Changing Books!

Life-Changing Books

If you want to change your body, change what you eat and how you exercise. If you want to change your outlook on life, change what you read and put it into practice.

Listed below are twenty life-changing books. Unless you are determined to be miserable (which, strangely enough, some people are) these books will change your life for the better. Click on the titles to order a copy for yourself, then mark them up and put them into practice.

Man's Search for Meaning

Man’s Search for Meaning

1. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl – In this book, the author details his experiences in an Auschwitz concentration camp, while simultaneously sharing his perspective on living a meaningful life. The book has sold well over 10 million copies and has been consistently listed as one of the most influential books ever written. From the book: “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

2. As A Man Thinketh by James Allen – Although you could probably finish this little booklet in less than an hour or two, its words are powerful and profound. Words like these: “A man’s mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind.”

3. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown – In this book, the author addresses how to find deep personal worth while living in a world that is constantly bombarded by messages of who, what, and how we should be. From the book: “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

4. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – This is a fantastic, beautiful narrative about finding out who we are and fearlessly chasing our own “personal legend.” In this book, Coelho says: “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

5. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo – Does this book really need any explaining? It follows the life of reformed convict, Jean Valjean, and illustrates the power and beauty of redemption. From the book: “To love another person is to see the face of God.”

6. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch – Diagnosed with terminal, pancreatic cancer, professor Randy Pausch delivered his “last lecture” at Carnegie Mellon in September of 2007. His lecture was structured around the hypothetical question: “What wisdom would you try to impart to the world if you knew it was your last chance?” The book fleshes out the ideas presented in the last lecture and was co-authored and approved by Pausch before he died. From the book: “The key question to keep asking is, Are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have.”

7. To Kill a Mockingbird – To put it simply, Atticus Finch is one of the best, noblest characters ever written into existence. From the book: “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”

8. The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck – Where do I start? This book is honestly one of my absolute favorite books of all time. It is packed with incredible insight and solutions for confronting and solving some of life’s greatest problems. For example, consider this: “Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed, they create our courage and wisdom.”

9. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson – This book helps you overcome “the small stuff” that can drive you crazy. It is filled with supportive and thoughtful suggestions on how to live a more peaceful life. From the book: “…when you let go of your expectations, when you accept life as it is, you’re free.To hold on is to be serious and uptight. To let go is to lighten up.”

The Seven Paths

The Seven Paths

10. The Seven Paths by the Anasazi Foundation – This poetic, evocative story presents the meditations of an ancient Anasazi tribesman who learns that the point of life’s walk is how one is moved in the heart. He walks seven paths, each teaching a lesson symbolized by an element of the natural world: light, wind, water, stone, plants, animals, and, finally, the unity of all beings with the Creator.

11. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne – In this bestselling book, various individuals share their insight and experience with “The Secret” (the law of attraction). While this book can get a little mystical, it does a really good job at explaining how our mental outlook can affect all areas of our lives (for you business types, I would also recommend Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill).

12. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey – This book is consistently listed as one of the most inspiring books ever written and has sold more than 15 million copies worldwide. From the book: “But until a person can say deeply and honestly, “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,” that person cannot say, “I choose otherwise.”

13. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis – If you’d like to read some more inspirational fiction, check out these classics by C. S. Lewis. Not only are they entertaining, but they’re also filled with timeless wisdom about addiction, sin, guilt, and the nature of man. Plus, the seventh book is quite possibly one of the most beautiful fiction books I’ve ever read. From the book: “Now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

14. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie – I’m a fairly introverted person, so I’m not exactly going out of my way to meet new people. But this book provides some great, practical advice on working with and helping people. I’m a big believer finding happiness  From the book: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

15. The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino – This book probably isn’t what you think it is, but I won’t spoil the surprise. From the book: “Wealth, my son, should never be your goal in life. Your words are eloquent but they are mere words. True wealth is of the heart, not of the purse.”

16. The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis – In this allegorical story, a busload of sinners leave the depths of hell to see what heaven might be like. When they get there, they are told that they can stay in heaven if they can give up the sins that are holding them back. Through an array of characters struggling with different vices, C. S. Lewis masterfully illustrates that, more often than not, we are the very things that are holding ourselves back.

The Book Thief

The Book Thief

17. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – I don’t even know how to describe this book. It’s beautiful, heart-breaking, yet very comforting—all at the same time. It tells the story of a little girl growing up in Germany during World War II. There is one scene in the book (which was left out of the movie) that is absolutely astounding—reading that one scene is worth every minute spent reading the whole book.

18. The Shack by William P. Young – After his youngest daughter is murdered by a serial killer, Mackenzie Allen Phillips receives a mysterious note—apparently from God—telling him to return to “the shack,” the scene of the crime. What happens next is a spiritual journey of love and forgiveness that forever changes his life. From the book: “[…] love is much stronger than your fault could ever be.”

19. The Book of Virtues by William J. Bennett – This book is a massive collection of some of the greatest stories ever told. I actually have a copy of it on the corner of my desk right now—one of the stories in that book changed my life.

20. Sacred Writings – I don’t know if you’re a religious person or not, so this one is entirely up to you. But I believe that many religions contain incredible, invaluable, time-tested truths—and we would be foolish to simply ignore them. At the very least, there’s something to be said of getting in touch with your religious/cultural roots.

If you like any of these books, please be sure to check out my upcoming book “Your Life Isn’t For You.” In it, I draw upon inspirational stories from history and literature to illustrate my deep conviction that the only way you can truly find and live your life is to give it away to others.

About these ads

Did Mitt Romney REALLY Lose?

Mitt-Romney-successful

Mitt Romney

Ever since the 2012 Presidential Election, I have wondered, did Mitt Romney REALLY lose?

Now, before you get yourselves all worked up over politics, cool it. This isn’t about politics. I’m just trying to convey an important idea.

Whenever a major election comes to an end, the “loser” tends to disappear from the spotlight—becoming little more than a joke for talking-heads and an example of what not to do for future candidates. But for some reason, Mitt Romney’s name keeps surfacing in a favorable light. In fact, two well-known MSNBC commentators recently lamented the fact that Mitt Romney isn’t currently the president.

But again, this isn’t about politics. It’s about something much deeper than that.

These past few years, I’ve had the privilege of working with a number of charities that have benefited greatly from the efforts and donations of Mitt Romney. And, although I’ve never met him, I know a lot of people who have worked closely with him. From what I can gather, Governor Romney is a prodigiously charitable and sincere man.

Not only has Mitt Romney donated millions to charities, but he’s also rendered incredible, heart-warming service to those in need.

Knowing just a handful of things he’s done to help people, it’s hard for me to understand why some people dislike Romney so much. Throughout his political career, a lot of people have attacked him for being wealthy. But truthfully, Governor Romney spends a lot of his resources to help other people.

Here is just one example of many:

In 1995, Romney heard about the Nixons, a family who moved to Boston. Soon after, a car wreck left their sons paraplegic. Romney called and asked if they were available on Christmas Eve. Romney, his wife, and his sons arrived with a stereo and other gifts for the crippled boys. Romney offered to put them through college and supported them through numerous fundraisers. As their father told Kranish and Helman, “It wasn’t a one-time thing.” (Source: National Review)

Recently, Mitt and Ann Romney inaugurated the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases—a research center dedicated to fighting MS, Alzheimer’s, ALS, Parkinson’s, and brain tumors. If you’ve followed my writings for very long, you’ll know that I’m particularly sensitive about a number of issues, one of them being multiple sclerosis (my grandmother had MS). I can’t describe to you how much something like this means to me.

So with that in mind, I ask you again: did Mitt Romney really lose? He lost the election, sure, but he gained a wider circle of respect, media attention, and influence, which he’s now using to promote wonderful, meaningful causes and help thousands of people.

I think there’s a lesson here for all of us: When we are met with defeat, we don’t simply lose. Not really. The only time we really lose is when we give up on ourselves and others.

And from what I can see, Mitt Romney not only won, he is still winning.

Why You Should Read to Your Children

Read to ChildFew topics are as near and dear to me as reading. I absolutely love books and the power that words have to transform our lives and heal our souls.

When I was young, my dad sat down and read a bedtime story to my sister Jaimie and me. Now, he may have read to us on other occasions, but that is the one and only time that I can remember him doing so. I remember where we were, the words that he read, and even the inflection in his voice.

The story he read—and the meaning behind it—made such an impact on me that I have carried that same book with me throughout my life. (True story. It’s on the corner of my desk right now.) The story transformed my life, and it’s now the backbone of my non-fiction book that will be published in September.

Now, why am I telling you all of this? Because although it may seem like such a simple thing, taking the time to read to children can change their lives for the better. Not only can it have a positive impact on their character and future relationships, but multiple studies have highlighted the educational benefits of reading to children at an early age.

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association:

“Toddlers are like little scientists.” They explore with all their senses, learn trial and error, cause and effect, and their brain growth increases through personal interaction with parents, grandparents, caregivers, and even other children. Reading aloud, laughing, talking, and exploring books together from an early age significantly improves language development and literacy outcomes for children in the long run.”

To meet the need of these “little scientists,” one of my friends is currently running a Kickstarter campaign for a new type of book called Pictivities. The project is so innovative that it’s actually been selected by Kickstarter as a Staff Pick:

“Pictivities is a new series of board books for young children. The books are designed to generate interaction between reader and child by linking pictures to words and actions. On each page there is a picture button that shows an object, animal, or person. Each image is also linked to an action. You prompt your child to touch the button and then you both say and do the action together.”

All the words and pictures for the first Pictivities book are DONE and the funds generated from this Kickstarter campaign will help finance the first print run of the book. As they’re nearing the deadline, I would humbly ask that you check out their project and donate generously. The authors themselves have partnered with several organizations to help donate copies of their books to charity.

Reading to your children is so important and I couldn’t endorse this project more. Please click on the image below to watch their video and make a pledge to help make Pictivities a reality.

Reading to Children

7 Things That Will Make You Laugh!! :)

Life can be hard and sometimes all you need is a good laugh. If that’s what you need then you’ve come to the right place! Here are seven things that always make me laugh…

1. EVIL CAT

It’s up to something…

2. HAVE YOU EVER HAD A DREAM LIKE THIS?

He put into words what I’ve been trying to say for years…

3. DR. PEPPER

I enjoy an occasional Dr. Pepper, but it looks like this guy REALLY enjoys his Dr. Pepper.

4. VEGETABLES

Vegetables are a great source of nutrition and can make you strong. I am sure that after Godzilla ate his vegetables he destroyed the monster that forced him to eat them.

5. BABIES LAUGHING

Because who doesn’t enjoy watching babies laugh?

6. UNCONTROLLABLE MASCOT

This is just the best!

7. MY DAUGHTER HAS JOINED THE DARK SIDE

Mwhahaha!

I’m Tired of Praying for Iraq

Yazidi Child

A Yazidi child.

Since 2003, Americans have been encouraged to pray for Iraq. But after another display of barbarism by the Islamic State militants I realize I’ve grown tired of praying for Iraq.

Now is the time to act.

Do you realize that the Islamic State militants (also known as ISIS) is a terrorist army with an estimated 80,000 fighters? (30,000 in Iraq and 50,000 in Syria). They were once closely affiliated with al-Qaeda but al-Qaeda has recently cut all ties with ISIS because it is too brutal.

‘Brutal’ is hardly the word for it. Savage, barbaric, and animalistic is a little bit more accurate.

Not only is ISIS responsible for the deaths of thousands upon thousands of innocent people (many of them religious and ethnic minorities), but they photograph and record these brutal murders and post them on social media.

To put it simply, what is happening in Iraq is ethnic cleansing—genocide.

The Yazidi are a group of religious minorities that have been targeted by ISIS. Unable to defend themselves, the Yazidi fled to the safety of Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq. In an attempt to defend the Yazidi, President Obama ordered humanitarian airdrops to the Yazidi, and authorized a number of airstrikes against the Islamic State. The airstrikes allowed a number of Yazidi to escape the mountain, but thousands remain—trapped on a mountain that is 130 degrees during the day, and sub-zero temperatures at night.

In spite of this, Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said “The Yazidis who remain are in better condition than previously believed and continue to have access to the food and water that we have dropped.”

But relatives of those still trapped on the mountain strongly disagree. On Monday, I had the chance to interview Lucy Usoyan, a Yazidi activist living in America. She described the situation in northern Iraq, shared a harrowing account of ISIS killing a pregnant, Yazidi woman, and tearfully asked for the U.S. to intervene and rescue her people.

In seeing all of this violence, I have grown tired of praying for Iraq. It’s time for us to do something. I know that we are all war-weary, but please do not turn a blind eye to the brutal slaying of thousands. Continue to pray for Iraq, but then get up and do something about it. Share this story. Write about what’s happening. Take action! Never underestimate the force of your own voice.

Please watch my interview with Lucy and decide what you can do to help.

More Resources:

The Yazidi people are not comfortable—it is America that is comfortable. We must respond with more humanitarian aid and we must rescue the thousands of Yazidi people still trapped on Mount Sinjar.

More Resources:

Local Woman to U.S. Leaders: Don’t Abandon the Rescue of My People in Iraq

Persecution of Yazidis by ISIS

On Death Mountain

Is Suicide Selfish?

In 2006, I nearly succeeded in taking my life.

Six months later, I received a letter from a close friend. I half-expected it to be a letter of comfort. It was not. It was cutting. Of the many things which were written, I will only share two sentences: “I can’t believe you tried to take your life. How could you be so selfish?”

Loss of a Loved OneAs I held that letter with a trembling hand, I was immediately reminded of all the letters and notes I had written to my family and friends in the hour before I tried to end my life. In those notes, I tearfully expressed deep regret and remorse for what I was about to do. But the pain had become so unbearable that I believed I was toxic—that my continued existence was actually hurting my family and friends. I sincerely believed that suicide was the only way to end the pain for myself and everyone associated with me.

Is that selfish?

And what of the tens of thousands of people whose emotional agony becomes so intense that it overrides their innate, natural desire to live? Are they selfish because they’re consumed with a pain that won’t go away? What about the people who attempt suicide as a desperate cry for help? Are they selfish for needing help? Is it selfish to feel like you’re trapped in a burning building and your only escape is leaping from the window? Is it selfish to forget about how your death might hurt others?

I honestly don’t know. It took me years to make sense of my own medical condition. How on earth could I accurately judge someone else’s situation? Everyone’s struggle is unique and there is so much that we just don’t know.

But here’s something I do know:

Calling someone selfish doesn’t help.

Calling someone selfish for being depressed and having suicidal thoughts doesn’t help them recover. And calling someone selfish for committing suicide doesn’t help their families and friends recover. It only encourages bitterness, resentment, and guilt.

But do you know what does help?

Empathy. Reaching out and loving those who are in pain—suffering alongside those who suffer—that’s what matters. That is the most helpful thing that anyone can do for another person.

The person that wrote me a letter and called me selfish nearly tore me apart. Their words settled into my stomach like a razor blade. I couldn’t sleep. I was consumed with guilt and a renewed sense of self-loathing.

About a week later, I received another letter—this one from my sister Shannon. Shannon is the oldest in our family and was born with a mild form of cerebral palsy. Her condition has caused her to struggle with a severe learning disability and has made it difficult for her to walk straight. Shannon is as gentle and innocent as a child and she’s one of the most charitable and loving people I’ve ever known.

Here is part of the letter that Shannon wrote to me:

“Seth...Keep pressing forward. Your family loves you very much. Don’t give up.”
 
Can you feel the difference between the two letters? The first one cut me down while the second one lifted me up. I was so touched by Shannon’s letter that I’ve carried it with me wherever I’ve gone (it’s on the corner of my desk right now). And “pressing forward” and moving forward has since become my own personal motto.
 
I’ve seen a lot of comments and articles debating whether or not suicide is or isn’t selfish. I would humbly suggest that you bring those questions to God, the Master Physician—for He is the only one that fully understands each unique situation. And instead of calling someone selfish for being depressed or suicidal, I would ask you to reach out  to that person in love. Write them a letter and tell them that you love them and encourage them forward.
 
Take it from me: whatever the root of their problem is, empathy goes a long way to helping them move forward.
 
…and they will never, ever forget it.

Why the Suicide of Robin Williams Matters

Robin Williams

Robin Williams

Actor/comedian Robin Williams just committed suicide.

Truthfully, I’m stunned, shocked, and devastated. I had heard that he struggled with depression, and had always looked to him as an example—someone to help me move forward as I battle my own depression.

His humor brought happiness and hope to so many people. And now…

I don’t know. Part of me just wants to yell and shake my fist. Why did you do that, Robin?! You were loved by so many people. You were an inspiration to millions! You should’ve asked more people for help! Others would’ve rushed to your aid to lift you up. So many people believed in you and loved you!

But there’s another part of me—a quieter part—that tells me it is not my place to judge. Depression and suicidal thoughts are so subtle and insidious that they can take down anyone—even (perhaps especially) the happiest of people.

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts and feelings, please try to see your experience through the conversation now surrounding Robin Williams. Clearly, he was a funny, beloved, and inspirational man. But because of what he was going through it became difficult for him to see that. Depression and suicidal thoughts darken our world and sometimes make us feel like suicide is the only escape.

Please know that there is hope. While it’s extremely difficult to fight depression with thought power or “positive thinking,” I hope you can recognize that you are loved by so many people! You never know who you are inspiring. If you feel like you’re drowning in depression, please ask other people for help! Help will come, I promise. So many people believe in you and love you.

This is your life. It is precious and beautiful. Don’t take your life—live your life! Seize the day.

In a statement recently released by Susan Schneider, (his wife) said this: “On behalf of Robin’s family, we are asking for privacy during our time of profound grief. As he is remembered, it is our hope that the focus will not be on Robin’s death but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions.”

I couldn’t agree more. Let us honor Robin Williams by focusing on the profoundly amazing and wonderful life he lived! He had a deep struggle and he fought a good, noble fight (and made the world a better, happier place in the process). As one of my friends on Facebook put it: we should “Commend him for all the days he did win that fight.”

Thanks for all the laughter and the inspiration, Robin. And thank you for fighting for so long. You are a true hero and will be sorely missed.

**UPDATE – This article was originally titled: “Why I’m Angry at Robin Williams.” After one of my readers pointed out that this might be perceived as negative or sensationalist, I changed it. My thoughts, prayers, and heartfelt sympathies go out to anyone who is struggling to cope with suicide.

Why Ebola WON’T Make Me Sick

Ebola

The Ebola Virus

There’s been a lot of talk about the deadly Ebola virus that is currently ravaging West Africa. Social media is on fire, filled with millions of comments and concerns that the disease will spread to other parts of the world.

I, for the most part, am concerned…but undeterred. I refuse to make myself sick over Ebola or any other “impending doom.” I resolved, long ago, to be hopeful instead of fearful.

This resolution stems from a campfire conversation I had with some friends. It was 2010, and we were talking about how the world might come to an end in December 2012. We talked about how it might happen, what it might look like, and how we would respond. Some of the guys even expressed anger at the thought that their lives might be cut short.

Our apocalyptic, doom-and-gloom conversation became pretty heated as we debated what we would do in our final hours. It was then that one of my friends—who had not said a word since the conversation began—finally spoke up:

“I don’t think I would mind if the world came to an end,” he said, quietly poking the fire.

We stared at him in shock. “How can you say that?” someone asked.

My friend shrugged. “We’re all going to die sometime, right? We all know that. What we don’t know is how we’ll die or when we’ll die. So many people waste what little time they have thinking about how they’ll die and when they’ll die that they never really think about why they live. If you live a good life full of service then you don’t need to be fearful about how you’ll die and when you’ll die. You’ll be ready.”

A silence fell over the campfire and gradually, the conversation shifted towards inspirational thoughts we had had while hiking—things we’d like to change and people we’d like to visit. One of the guys resolved to forgive his father while another decided he was finally going to ask his long-time girlfriend to marry him.

Does the Ebola virus concern me? Yes, it does. You know what else concerns me? America’s current conflict with Russia, violence in the Middle-East, and overwhelming political corruption.

But you know what? There will always be something to worry about. We have a limited lease on life and it’s riddled with risk. So much of what happens to us is outside of our ability to control. We don’t know when we’ll die or how we die, but we can decide how to live and when to start.

In the midst of such terrible, fearful things, decide right now to live a good life full of service. Once you decide that, then you don’t need to be fearful about how you’ll die or when you’ll die. You’ll be ready. So roll up your sleeves and get to work! Don’t burry your head in the sand. Instead, labor to understand the diseases, conflicts, and issues of the world and seek to alleviate some of the pain, suffering, and misunderstanding. Do your best to be aware and serve others.

And what’s more, your knowledge, faith, goodness and service will undoubtedly make this darkened world a better place.

(For more information about Ebola, please read “Ten Things You Really Should Know About Ebola“)

I’m Grateful For Paper Cuts

Life Is Beautiful

Some time ago, I was asked by Nate Bagley (of Loveumentary.com) to participate in a Gratitude Challenge. As part of this challenge, I was asked to share a personal experience where gratitude had an impact on me and to share how I practice gratitude in my life.

It may sound strange to you but I’m grateful for paper cuts.

Actually, I’m grateful for one particular paper cut…

It was in the spring of 2007, and I was traveling with my parents through New England. As a family, we had recently closed a very dark and wintry chapter in our lives and were eager to move forward. The surrounding countryside, positively satiated in springtime flowers, painted the promise of a new beginning.

While visiting a religious building, I fumbled with some informational brochures and accidentally gave myself a paper cut. The sting prompted a word that was—ah—shall we say…inappropriate for the location? (It was a swear word.)

As I covered my finger with a tissue, I was suddenly (and inexplicably) overwhelmed with gratitude—gratitude to be alive.

Six months earlier, I had tried to take my life. In fact, I would have succeeded had my dad not found me and taken me to the hospital. In the weeks leading up to my attempt, I remember one constant feeling: numbness. My entire world had been drained of color and energy. I felt so hollow, so void, and so dead that taking my life seemed like the only escape.

But in the months and years that have followed my suicide attempt, my family and friends rallied around me, offering me support, encouragement, and love. On one of those tedious nights immediately following my discharge from the hospital, I distinctly remember laying in my bed and being impressed with these words: “Seth, there are a lot of things in your life that have gone wrong. Yes, you’re in pain. And yes, you have a lot of problems. But there are also a lot of good things in your life—like family, friends, a warm bed, good food, and air to breath. You’ve spent the past couple of years focusing on all the bad things in your life—and look what it’s done to you. Maybe, instead of focusing so much on all of the bad things in your life, you could try to focus on some of the good things—because there are many.”

Since that time, I have tried, to the best of my ability, to focus on the positive instead of the negative. Yes, I still struggle with chronic depression—I don’t deny that. Yes, things go wrong and I still have bad days. But instead of focusing on what I lack, I focus on what I have. And that shift in focus has made all of the difference in the world. In a curious way, gratitude for life has actually expanded it. Every additional moment of my life, when coupled with gratitude, has only increased the joy and color of my life.

So as I stood there, clutching a throbbing paper cut, I was overcome with gratitude for that pain—because it meant that I was still alive. And later that day, while sitting on a couch with my parents, I reached across and put my hand on my dad’s arm.

“Dad,” I began. “I just wanted to thank you for saving my life.”

My dad gave me a somber look. “I’m grateful I did,” he said.

In our darkest moments, it’s hard to even think about gratitude. Sometimes, the difficulties of life have a tendency to pull us inward and downward. But I ask you to try and shift your focus outward and upward. Consider your blessings—they are many. Take it from a guy who once hated his life so much that he nearly ended it: life is a beautiful and precious gift.