55 Years of Wisdom with Mark Smith

A few weeks ago, I asked for your feedback on everything from Instagram to the blog and what you would like to read on Daily Dose of Prep. I had a handful of people mention that they wanted to see more of my family, specifically more of my dad. I went on LiveStream with him about a year ago and y'all loved it! And when him and I traveled to NYC last Spring, so many of you followed along on our adventures.

Today I have an incredible treat for you. I asked my dad to write a blog post sharing some of his wisdom. What he wrote is beautifully said and describes him as a person completely. I encourage you to read every single word of his blog post and adopt some of his tips into your daily routine.

Although he needs no introduction, My father is my favorite person on earth. He truly is one of a kind, and always up for anything. He is the most encouraging, honest, hardworking, intelligent, and generous person I know. He's one of those people you could sit and listen to for hours on end. I swear, he should write a book about all of his adventures -- everyone would buy it! His post is long but extremely important, I hope you enjoy!

Hi Daily Dosers of Prep!!!!

My name is Mark Smith and I am Lucy’s Dad. Lucy, asked me to write a guest blog post that might share some of whatever wisdom I have learned along the way as I traveled through life. I have to tell you I have been blessed in my life. I have traveled to 47 of the 50 states, traveled abroad, cruised our oceans and rivers. I have had awesome parents, love God and my country. I have loved 6 great siblings all my life. Been able to go to great schools and graduate with three degrees from college. I have had great jobs and owned several companies that had the world’s best employees.

Most important, I was able to meet, date and marry the love of my life and my best friend—my wife, Lori. We have been married for 25 years and she has blessed me with four absolutely perfect daughters.

Right now, I am fortunate to have retired from work and am living my dream as a cattle farmer in the beautiful Virginia countryside. Yes, I have been blessed to have an exceptional life and have been so lucky to share it with others. I am not sure I have ever thought about my “wisdom” but I know these 55 years have made me wiser from my experiences.

So, I thought about what I have learned over life’s journey and there is simply too much to write. In fact, someone could have an entire blog about wisdom. But, in thinking about wisdom, I do think there are some big topics. There are some important things to do while you travel on your own life’s journey. Some you have heard, some you have discounted and some you will learn whether you want to or not! But I thought I would answer my daughter’s request….so here are ten things I have learned and would urge you to consider as you grow into adults. I have listed them in a Top 10 and they are from 10 to 1 with “One” being most important. I hope that many of you already are well on your way and are enjoying a great life. It never hurts to reflect…..and assess.

10. Be Happy!!!!

Life is full of ups and downs. Even if you are the most withdrawn human, you still interact with others and with life’s pitfalls and great wonders. I have found that so many times in life, especially in hard times, if I was happy and I could stay happy through these tough times, life sure was better. I believe existing in a state of happiness does not mean that you are all smiles and that “110%” bubbly person all the time.

I think being happy is to be able to realize that your life is OK and that no matter what you face, so many others have it far worse. Being happy is a learned state. It is far easier, like most things in life, to be miserable because there are always emotions and insights we have that can make us wish we had more or were another person or in another place. “Being happy”, for me, is being excited about my life and what’s next. Being happy for me, is knowing that I can make my life better and other’s lives better by things that I can easily do today and tomorrow. If you realize that each morning you are blessed with another day to experience all the emotions that life has to offer and embrace then you can’t help but be happy! Life is great…enjoy the ride…learn to make a conscious effort to be happy.

9. Stay fit and healthy!!!

As I get older, I continue to notice little aches and pains that I did not have before. As I said above, I am 55 now and would say that, overall, my health is good but could be better….and knowing that, I work at it. I think the key to a great life is take part in everything and, boy, have I done that. Lots of my early years was spent playing sports, watching sports, going to parties and not having a care in the world. I would not change a thing….but I think that it’s important to hear from an old guy that even as a young person, make sure to try to stay as fit as you can. Take time to exercise and get out of breath. Feel the sweat roll down your face as you work the body that God gave you. I truly believe, and have seen this in my travels, that the more fit you are and the longer you try to stay fit….your body will allow you to see more and do more for a longer time in life. Being active is expected as a young person….being active is a privilege as an older person. Time is fleeting….staying fit helps expand your time!

8. Help Others!!!

Now my daughter might say this is a challenge for me but I swear, absolutely nothing makes me feel better than when I can help another human. Even if it is a small gesture, I simply feel energized by helping someone else. It can be helping your Mom with the groceries, cutting the grass for your Dad, tutoring a sibling or a friend….anything you do for others simply makes you feel good. If you do it long enough, it becomes a way of life.

I think the best things I have done in life are things that helped someone else and they didn’t even know it was me. Helping a stranger, no matter how small the act, makes me feel fulfilled. It makes me happy and it makes me realize the times others have helped me. Helping others truly can become a chain effect so big that we can change our part of the world. You don’t have to be a saint and you should not help someone to brag about it….just DO IT and enjoy the personal feeling of positivity that comes over you!!!!

7. Learn to do Lots of Things!!!

Of course we will learn lots of skills and abilities in our lives. I think some of the greatest things I have learned to do, even poorly, I would not have chosen to do if it were up to me. I love to fish and raise cattle. I took flying lessons and learned to run businesses. I was a great limbo guy when I was young and I love to dance. So many things that I have been exposed to happened because SOMEONE ELSE said, “Hey Mark…..let’s do this!!!!”. I often joke with my wife that I am a renaissance man!!! I say that because, as life has rolled on, I have been fortunate enough to have interacted with enough people that asked me to do something with them. Most things I probably would not have tried if it were up to me…..and most things I tried, I came to really like to do! I cannot emphasize enough that some of your life’s great learned abilities and skills will happen because someone offers to take you with them or offers to show you how to do something. LISTEN to those opportunities and DO NOT shy away. Embrace trying new things and even failing at them….at the least you might make a few new friends and, at best, you might end up finding your life’s calling!!!

6. Develop Yourself and Embrace Emotion.

It is important to work on yourself…each and every day. Sure your parents raised you early on and they wanted the best for you and molded you with a certain finished product in mind. Your early friends impacted you as well but, I firmly believe, that the one that makes the most difference in the adult you are….is YOU. We all interact in life. We all have emotions that are inside us. Natural emotions like joy, sadness, nervousness, excitement. We all work to either suppress them or limit them in many situations. During a family tragedy, we try to be strong and suppress our incredible sadness. Before playing in a big game we might be really nervous and we try to not show that to our teammates. You get the point, right? We seem to spend our life dulling our greatest emotions. Well, my advice to you is to STOP FIGHTING!!! Let your emotions, within reason, fully envelop you. Life is meant to be lived and I believe a lot of that living is meant to be felt deep in our souls. Develop and really feel the emotions you feel in different events. When you deal with a family death, it’s ok to feel incredibly sad. It ok to express your feelings. Feel those tears run down your cheeks, hug tightly your sister or brother, tell them how much you love them. It’s OK!!! When you get an A on a test you studied forever for….exalt in the effort. You owned that subject and conquered it….feel that emotion of pride and accomplishment. Walk around with your head up and shoulders out.

Most of all, feel the emotions you get listening to someone with a beautiful voice sing a powerful song. Learn to lose yourself in a Broadway play. Let your emotions run wild as you try something you never thought you would. Those emotions you feel are called living life to it’s fullest. The sooner you are in touch with your emotions and learn to celebrate them and embrace them, the more depth you will add to your experiences. The quality of your life will be fuller and deeper. Work to develop the colors of your emotions. Obviously, don’t go overboard. Don’t be the drama king or queen but FEEL the emotions that exist within you. Given the situation, let them take you away. Let them guide your experience and let them always be inside you, defining the quality of experience.

5. Respect and Honor Others

It is so easy, as you go through life, to begin to take people for granted; to devalue their opinions and their importance. I have struggled with this all of my life. I don’t think I ever thought I was better than anyone else but I certainly discounted other folks opinions quickly because they were different from mine or were, in my opinion, simply crazy. Well, guess what, every single person in this world is entitled to his or her opinion. We all live in this world together and we all come to our individual opinions through each of our own life’s experiences.

Folks that I know have completely different opinions than I do politically and religiously. They fundamentally live their lives differently than I. My natural reaction is to discount these folks.and that would be wrong. The correct reaction is to listen and learn. Often, instead of turning these folks off, the better question to ask is simply…Why? How do you come to that opinion? Sometimes I have been greatly surprised as to why people think and act the way they do. Just because someone acts and reacts differently than me is absolutely no reason to “defriend” that person. In fact, the few greatest game changing talks I have had in my life have been with people that I thought had no usefulness and purpose…..and I suspect they felt the same about me….but, after a talk, I found that perhaps I was way off base and needed to start to listen, respect and honor each and every person i met with the same respect I would hope I would gain from them.

God’s greatest request to each of us is to treat others as we would wish to be treated. Too often, especially as you age, you start to pigeon hole others into little coveys rather than considering all sides and all people involved with an issue or topic. I truly believe you have grown personally when you can honesty give every single person complete respect and honor. It sounds easy….I suspect I will be trying to perfect this the rest of my life.


4. Work and Play

I have been fortunate enough to start, build and sell four businesses in my life and, hopefully, I have been able to secure my financial future at the age of 51. I have been happily retired now for four glorious years. I also have been quite blessed to travel this country of ours over and over and go abroad many times. I have worked hard and played hard.

One of the things that I want you to take away from this is that you MUST WORK AS HARD AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN, AS LONG AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN! That’s right…there are no shortcuts. Sure everyone knows someone that made it big quickly or inherited a fortune. Trust me, society today likes to play those folks up big yet they are a very, very small percentage of the population and are the truly lucky ones. Fortunately, I was self made and I want you to be that way too. When you enter the workforce, even as part timer or as summer employment, show your stuff!!!

Work as long as anyone might need you. Go the extra mile and do the job nobody wants. When you take on a task, do it happily and fulfill it completely. Don’t ever do a job half way….it’s obvious when you do. Don’t lie at work. Don’t brag at work. Be a team player and try to be the best player on that team. Work until you are absolutely exhausted and work to completely fulfill your customer’s requests and expectations. There is absolutely no shame in hard, consistent and complete work! Believe in your company. Treat the company as if it were your own. Recognize that being in business is a giant risk and that you are part of that gamble. Stand out for all the right reasons. If you make a mistake…admit it and don’t make the same mistake twice. We all fail. I probably failed once a day at something….but I vowed never to fail at the same thing twice.

Work as if every single person is watching you. Stand up for your work. Be proud of your effort and if you aren’t, work harder until you are. Always remember to work as smart as you can and efficiently as you can….but there is no substitute for simple and basic, roll-up-your-sleeves HARD WORK!

And then……when you have worked as hard and as well as you possibly can, forget about it and go play hard. If you have worked as hard and as best as you can…..you have earned the chance to play just as hard and while you are playing, do your absolute best to forget about work and play!!! Enjoy life and enjoy all the folks you come in contact with. If you are open and happy, people will see it and be drawn to you. Play is therapeutic….if you work hard, hard play balances your life and gets you ready for the next round of work!

My wish for you is that you work so hard that you can stop working as quickly as you can, retire, and spend the rest of your life playing!

3. Country

I love the good old USA. I love being an American and I love standing up for being an American. Too often, especially in our youth today, there is almost an embarrassment to say you love America. Folks taking knees during our National Anthem, people rioting over such small and trivial political events. It is stupid and breaks us apart.

America has been built on the principles of individual freedom and the pursuit of happiness. We bond together in tough times to help our neighbor We collectively are the most generous nation in the world and we are the greatest experiment in human history. A nation of immigrants binding together to build a way of life that is second to none. We melded together to form one large community of Americans. Be proud of the fact that you have a chance to experience that. Be proud to know that millions have fought died for your individual right to pursue absolutely anything that you would like. You can move freely, build a company, raise your children and do absolutely anything you want to do….simply because you are part of this great experiment in human happiness and success that is the United States of America.

I feel nothing but contempt for those Americans that somehow renounce and complain constantly. Often times, those folks need to look in a mirror. Nothing is given or guaranteed in America other than that you will have the same chance to succeed as the rest of us. Too many times those folks that took too many days off, skipped school, called in sick to work and cheated on every test or task given to them are the ones that complain and cry FOUL!!!!! Sorry, that’s not being one of us….that’s having contempt for those that never took the easy way or cut corners and that is simply wrong.

Be proud of living in a place that takes a backseat to nobody or no place. Cheer for each other and most important of all learn to love this great land for the magical place that it is.

2. Family

The single most important unit ever built in the history of the world is the family unit. Nothing on Earth is more important than family. Your family unconditionally loves you. Your family is THE support group in your life. Your Mom and Dad are your biggest fans and would simply die that you might live!!! Our parents spent their lives loving, protecting and building us to be the person we are. Don't ever, ever forget that. I love to say, don’t let your parents down….they brought you up. They simply are the reason you are here. They care more than anyone that you are happy and healthy….and that won’t stop until they or you die!! Your brothers and sisters can be a lot of things….competitors, friends, enemies, accomplices, sounding boards, role models or examples of what not be…..but they will ALWAYS be your blood. They usually know you better than almost anyone you will ever meet. They can be your greatest allies and you should work to make that so.

Your family is where you can always return….it’s HOME! Your family often times defines you; they are your conscience, they are your rules of the road, your examples in life….embrace them. Take pride in supporting and being there for your family. Help smooth over issues and talk it out with each other. Enjoy the time you have together…holidays, family vacations, stop overs in each other’s cities. God each gave us a family. He made you part of a team and big or small, that team is usually a loving and supportive unit led by Mom and Dad.

Most important, and especially as you get older, spend as much time as you can with your parents. They miss you when you are not around and they will always love you and pray for you. They gave you a lifetime of total and complete support…..celebrate them as often as possible by simply being there to love them back!

1. God

Finally and, personally for me, the most important goal in life for me is to gain admission into Heaven and meet my God. I know today more and more folks are secular…they have removed the idea of God from their minds and lives. My trip through life has simply confirmed over and over again that not only does God exist but that he acts daily on my behalf. If you are a believer, work to be as close to God as possible and exalt in the fact that you know Him and love Him. Ask for His help daily and He will be there for you. Don’t be embarrassed letting people know that you are a believer and you welcome Him in your life.

I think people are amazed to see others who believe in God’s healing power and miraculous acts. When I was young, I doubted God. I often thought it was a game. Maybe I was wasting my time….and I came from a very spiritual family. The simple fact is that the older and wiser I got the more I could not deny His existence….and then, as time went on I CELEBRATED HIS EXISTENCE IN MY LIFE.

There have been at least four or five times in my life when things have happened that, I know, were simply acts of God working directly in my life on my behalf!!! Look for times in your life when you really need help. Maybe it’s answers to tough questions in your life or a very difficult decision. Sit quietly and simply ask God for help. He answers in magical ways.

If you don’t believe in God, I urge you to watch the sunrise at a beach. Please take a trip across this beautiful country. Witness His work at the Badlands in South Dakota or at the sulfur geysers of Yellowstone. Maybe witness His magic on the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Take a perch on the rocky cliffs of the Pacific Coast highway and peer out over the Pacific. Witness the newborns in a hospital maternity ward. See a small child light up at the wonder of seeing an animal at the Zoo.

I seek God daily. I seek to thank Him for each and every new day on this wonderful Earth and I seek Him in times of uncertainly or trouble to ask for a little extra help. He is present. He is active and he is the Way, the Truth and the Light!!!!!

I simply love life, folks. Even on it’s worst day, this trip through life has been awesome for me. I urge you to smile, be happy, take each day as an individual miraculous chance to get better. I don’t know much and I certainly am no genius and do not have many answers…..but….life has taught me that the above items are important and work. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I loved writing this!

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