What We Can All Learn From Experiencing Tragedy

09/24/2016 12:01 pm ET

Tragedy happens every day, unfortunately. And I have witnessed many people that I know have their share of struggles in their lives, and some have had outright tragedies (or near-tragedies). For example, some people’s children have died without any warning. And others have gotten sick. One woman I know lost her ability to eat because he digestive system became paralyzed. And that causes a whole host of other problems that have nearly taken her life several times. And another good friend needed a heart transplant in his 40s, but he was one of the lucky ones and got one.

As sad as some of these stories are, sometimes human beings learn the most during their darkest hours. So we all can learn from our own tragedies (and even other people’s), and we should all carry these 7 lessons with us:

1. Don’t take anything or anyone for granted.

Why is it that people always assume that they have another tomorrow? And why do people sometimes treat their loved ones with such disrespect? It’s because they take life and people for granted. Yes, it’s easy to do. And yes, we all do it from time to time. But anyone who has every lost a loved one knows that every single day and every single person is precious. So remember that every day – not just when a tragedy happens.

2. You never know when it’s going to be your last day on earth.

We should appreciate and give thanks for every day we have here. Just because someone is a young, beautiful, vibrant, ambitious, amazing 22-year-old woman, that doesn’t make them immune to the fact that their life could be over at any minute. Not that I think you should live in fear, but if you gently remind yourself of that fact every day, then you will appreciate life and your loved ones much more.

3. Appreciate every breath you take.

Breathing is so easy – except if you have asthma, COPD, emphysema, or some other respiratory ailment. But I’m not talking quite as literally about breathing. However, until you have not been able to breathe, you don’t know what it feels like. Appreciate every breath, every heartbeat, every smile, every day you can walk, and every day you go without pain. Appreciate your health. Appreciate this day. Appreciate everything.

4. Figure out your passion and follow it – don’t wait.

People who follow their passions in life should be a shining example of what you should become. And don’t worry – it’s never too late. Just because you’re not 22 anymore doesn’t mean that your ship has sailed. Find the courage to do what you love. If you don’t do it now, then you might not ever get the chance. You just never know.

5. Remember that loneliness and being alone are two different things.

I think the concept of loneliness is an important one for us all to ponder. There are way too many lonely people in the world. But with that said, I think we first need to become our own best friend. For example, one of my friends always says, “I’m the best company I can be with!” And no – he is not egotistical at all. He is the opposite. He just has good self-esteem and genuinely likes himself. So he will never be lonely, even if he is alone.

6. You impact people more than you think you do.

You probably have no idea how much your life is impacting other people. You probably just think you are a normal, average person. But think about what you do for people every day. People love you, and people need you. I don’t care if you are a stay-at-home mom or the CEO of a major company. Other people’s lives are affected by yours. So while you might not think that you matter, you do. You matter. People are watching you. So make your message to the world a positive one.

7. You can always leave a legacy – age doesn’t matter.

You don’t have to live to the ripe old age of 90 or 100 to leave your mark on the world. I sure hope I do live that long, but it doesn’t matter how old it is when you die. If you live your life right, follow your passion, be a good, kind, genuine person, then that is all you need to do. Your positive example is enough to leave your footprint on earth after you are gone.

One person who knows all too well how tragedy impacts people every day is Chicago personal injury attorney, John Borcia. One of his clients was a 4-year-old girl who was tragically injured when a wall collapsed on her and crushed her skull. Imagine that – every parent (and person’s) worst nightmare! This poor little girl was blinded in one eye and she was left with a ton of facial scarring and she had to have multiple surgeries. No doubt, people like Mr. Borcias know first-hand how fragile life is – he sees it every day.

Bottom line: life is short. And it’s definitely too short to live it to its fullest. You never know when your time is up, but you can certainly make the most of it while you’re here.

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