This week, I found something in the modern equivalent of my dusty attic that reminded me of how important it is to occasionally stop, remember, and focus on the important things in life.

I found a digital picture of a handwritten note from a woman who had an enormous, lasting, and positive impact on everyone around her. Across the top of the note, she had written, “Happiness Change Card”. It was dated December 21, 1976, when she was 58 years old.

The 22 lines contained advice that I needed to hear again, especially this year. Her words reminded me that during difficult times of political, economic, and spiritual turmoil, it is important to remember who we are and what our goals are.

I’ll reprint her note below, but before I do, I want to briefly introduce her to you.

Her name was Myrtle Wilks. She was my wife’s grandmother and lived to be 84. She was a quiet woman, not to be confused with a lack of strength or wisdom.

I was surprised to realize that she has been gone for 18 years this month. But the impact of her life is still felt in our family, our community, and our state. She was a great example of a real woman and a true Texas grandmother.

As you read her note, you will see that it includes some of the most private information on the planet. I think it is a testimony to her strength that she committed it to paper. Out of respect, I have chosen to redact some specifics.

You might also notice that any mention of politics, as such, is completely absent. I think Myrtle’s focus was on treating people according to the Golden Rule and in a way that transcends modern politics.

Keep in mind that Myrtle’s note was for herself. It wasn’t meant to be published or a prescription to be followed by anyone else. It was for the purpose of reminding herself on a daily basis. For that reason, I think it is all the more powerful.

Happiness Change Card!

  1. Motto = Believe You Can and START!
  2. Happiness would be to bring my weight down so work at it! From [weight redacted]
  3. Don’t save time, use it!!!
  4. Keep a pencil in your hair for jotting down.
  5. ––> (Memory improvement) ^^^
  6. Live the best I can this day.
  7. Live the now. Tomorrow will be lived in its time.
  8. Put all your mind to the job at hand if you want or expect results.
  9. Keep busy – The rewards are in the doing!
  10. “No one is rich enough to do without a neighbor.”
  11. Poise: The ability to be ill at ease inconspicuously.
  12. If you really want the last word in an argument, try saying, “I guess you are right.”
  13. Get someone else to blow your horn and the sound will carry twice as far.
  14. Happiness is the art of making a bouquet of those flowers within reach.
  15. When a child asks difficult questions, invention is the necessity of mother. 
  16. He who gives quickly, gives twice.
  17. To love is to admire with the heart. To admire is to love with the mind.
  18. The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.
  19. He who is always blowing a fuse is usually in the dark.
  20. What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity!!!!
  21. To ease another’s heartache is to forget one’s own.
  22. Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.

 

Even if we live to be 84, our lives are fleeting. It is also true that while the memory of most people fades over time, the contribution of some is significant enough to have a longer influence.

Myrtle Wilks was such a person.

She lived her life with an earnest desire to improve the lives of everyone around her. I think it is a lesson we should keep in mind as we try to improve things in Texas.

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