by Nancy Rynes

I had the mother of all Mondays a couple of years ago when I died on the operating table during a surgery to repair my shattered spine. Obviously I wasn’t gone permanently, but I was dead long enough to prompt a complete shift in the way I view and experience life.

Death turned out to be an incredible teacher. It prompted my almost-overnight evolution from being an atheistic scientist to a spiritual seeker. Death also taught me some valuable lessons about living that I would like to share with you:

  • We only have one chance at life as the person we are now. Even if we do reincarnate, when we come back we will be a completely different person with a new body, family, friends, culture, skills and beliefs. We shouldn’t put off the life of our dreams in the hopes that our next time around will be better. It’s important we start taking steps toward living the life we want to live, now.
  • One of the main reasons we are here is to learn how to extend love, compassion and kindness to everyone. Whether we like a person or not, our highest spiritual mandate is to be kind, compassionate, loving and respectful to others as much as possible. This isn’t always easy, but making the effort is worthwhile both for us and the recipient. Recent scientific studies show that we get very tangible benefits from being compassionate and loving.
  • The world is a big place with problems beyond our scope to influence directly. We need to let go of the need to obsess about events we can’t control. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of the world’s problems, we can focus on what we can improve closer to home and look to make small, positive changes in our own life and the lives of those closest to us. These small, changes will travel outward like ripples on a pond. Remember the movie Pay it Forward? Being kind to one person may prompt him to later extend kindness to someone else.
  • The value of saying a profound “Thank You” to Spirit for the life we have, learning to love ourselves, warts and all. How do we learn to love ourselves? We can start by being grateful for the health we have, for our feet touching the floor when we get out of bed in the morning, or for our legs that allow us to walk the dog. Next, we can make a list of all our positive traits or the things we do well. (I find it helps to have a good friend help me.) Then read that list every day and be open to believing it. If you are still having trouble extending love to yourself, be compassionate enough to get some help. Talking to a counselor or a spiritual advisor might provide more ideas.
  • Challenges help us grow both as human and spiritual beings. Unexpected obstacles come to everyone but the real secret is how we deal with them. Do we choose to learn from the challenge and find the gem inside of it? Or do we look for a reason to build the walls of misery higher around ourselves? Practice finding something beautiful or positive in a recent challenge, then say a blessing of gratitude for seeing that gem. For example, taking a job we didn’t enjoy might have introduced us to someone who became a trusted friend.

Keep in mind that Spirit doesn’t want our lives to be all about seriousness and striving. Life is meant to be enjoyed and savored, too. We can hug our kids. Say “I Love You” more often. Build sand castles on the beach. Laugh. Enjoy the wildflowers in a meadow. Marvel at a hummingbird sipping from a flower. Taste the sweet nectar of life with all of our senses, and pass on that way of living to others.

Nancy Rynes is a speaker, artist, and author of Awakenings from the Light (available from Nancy’s books and workshops teach you how to bring a little bit of Heaven to your life on Earth. She lives near Boulder, Colorado. Check out her website: 



Sandra G. Malhotra is the Owner, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Regenerate Magazine. She is just a little bit passionate about health and wellness being our birthright.