paint a picture

Painting the Perfect Picture

“Every day I start my day by going over things for which I’m grateful. Even though I’m in hospice and the end is near, I have an immense amount for which I’m deeply grateful.”

A friend of mine from high school wrote that powerful sentence on Facebook this week. The honesty with which he shared was beautiful. He was very grateful for the people in his life and for the little things we so often take for granted. I asked his permission to share his words. He responded with, “Go for it! At this point, my goal is to try and make an impact with any little things I can do.”

paint a pictureAt the end of Jim’s post, he wrote, “Now go make today the best day you’ve lived so far. You can do it, because the day hasn’t been completed yet. So go out there and paint the perfect picture and make it happen. That’s my plan.”  In honor of Jim, I invite you all to do just that. Make today the best day you can by using Jim’s focus, gratitude, and reflection.


What I found most powerful about my friend’s post was his choice in focus. At age 47 and with three young children, this is not the time for him to leave. He could have so much more of life to experience. But that is not where he focused. He focused on the fact that he met his wife and was able to spend the time he did with her. He focused on the time he had with those he loves, not the time he will not.

How much of our lives do we spend looking at what is lacking? What we have lost? What we will never have?  Make today the best it can be by switching your attitude from one of lack and sadness to one of love and appreciation.


I have spoken many times about the power of gratitude and making it into a daily practice. Jim’s gratitude at this time is simply amazing. Many of us find it hard to be grateful. We are looking at what we want, what we have lost, or we are just in the struggle to survive. Making gratitude a daily habit is a powerful tool to strengthen you and help you find joy in every day.

To help you create your perfect day, every day, start it off by thinking of five (5) things for which you are grateful before you get out of bed. Then every night, take some time to reflect on the wonderful things you experienced. For bonus points, start to recognize the good things in the moment. Actively focusing on gratitude at first may seem like a chore, but after a while you are reprogramming your mind and senses to see the good, and we receive more of what we choose to focus on.

Reflect on What Matters

Jim mentions that the best part of dying is having the “time to sit back and reflect on what really matters.” For Jim, this is his relationships, the long-standing ones and the ones which were rekindled due to his illness. Sometimes it takes a disaster to bring us together, but our focus on the gift and gratefulness for the re-connection is much more important than the reason why.

Take today to sit back and reflect on what is truly important to you. Now look at how you spend your week. Are you putting your time and energy toward what is truly important? What can you adjust in your life to help you focus on what is most important to you?

You have the power to paint the perfect day. Choose your focus. Concentrate on gratitude. Uncover what really matters to you and ensure your time and effort are being put in the right place for you.

Jim, I truly believe your transition will be peaceful for you and those around you due to your ability to make the most of this time. Thank you for blessing our lives.

Comments (6)

  1. Chanda
    March 19, 2018

    Beautiful, Melissa. I also learned much from Jim’s post. He is inspiring!
    And now I learn from you here as well – as you spark more thought about how a change in focus can make all the difference in having a life with joy or a life of suffering. A lesson I particularly need at this time. Thanks.

    • Melissa Heisler
      March 20, 2018

      Chanda – I am so honored to be able to share Jim’s words, message, and outlook. Glad his words, and mine, are a help for you at this time. It is not what we experience, but how we experience it that makes all the difference. ((hugs))

  2. Ellen G.
    March 21, 2018

    Thank you Melissa for republishing Jim’s words at this time.
    And for pointing up the value of reframing our thought life.
    Being grateful IS powerful.
    It is challenging to make a turnabout from living in mental suffering to Finding joy.

    Please publish more articles about this topic. Many thanks for your insightful posts.

    • Melissa Heisler
      March 21, 2018

      It was my pleasure Ellen. I am glad I was able to capture Jim’s message. It is possible to move from a life of suffering to joy; just take it step by step, choosing in each moment what feels like freedom and joy. You will find more posts like this in this blog series, ((hugs)) Melissa

  3. Rob
    March 22, 2018

    As a cancer doctor I see first hand the many ways people react to a deadly illness. Jim uses the power of gratitude in a beautiful, inspiring way. Thanks for your post.

    • Melissa Heisler
      March 22, 2018

      Rob, thank you for sharing. Our attitude may not be able to change the outcome, but it can definitely change our experience during illness.

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