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“I expect to pass through this life but once.”


This is the start of a great quote from William Penn, a writer and the founder of the Northern Colony of Pennsylvania,

“I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.”

This quote is packed with value and insights on how to achieve happiness.  Let’s break the quote down so that we can truly appreciate what Mr. Penn was saying and how happiness can be found by living a life by this simple quote.

“I expect to pass through this life but once.”

Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs.  You may believe you will be re-incarnated upon death or you may believe you move on and never return to this life.  Personally, I agree with Mr. Penn.  I believe we only pass through this life just once.  We have one chance to make our imprint on this world.  Sure, we can try to do that by getting in the history books by doing something grand.  But let’s not forget that we can leave our imprint on the world by the lives of those we touch. 

Since we will only be here once, be a positive influence on those around you, touching their lives in a way that changes them for the better.  Once they change for the better, they will touch other lives for the better.  Your simple work here can have a ripple effect through the ages of time, even though you only “…pass through this life but once.”

“If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being…”

Random acts of kindness is truly a path to happiness.  Opening or holding the door for someone, smiling at someone who is having a bad day, or buying coffee for the person behind you in the Dunkin Donuts line…all acts of kindness we can show.  This is the kindness and good things Mr. Penn was suggesting we do.  He referred to himself in his quote by saying, “I can show” and “I can do” as he was being an example for how all men and women should live.  We can find happiness in serving others and it is the little things that can really make a big difference in this world!!!

“…let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.”

If you have a chance to show kindness, do it right away.  Don’t put it off.  If you see someone who needs a helping hand, don’t expect someone else to step up…YOU STEP UP!!!  Do it now and show kindness to someone in need.  Who knows the impact that act of kindness will have on them!!!

Don’t say I can do something nice later…do it now.  You live your life by living each moment.  There is never a time where you life is not this moment.  Each moment is unique.  When Mr. Penn says, “…as I shall not pass this way again”, he understands that he will never experience this exact same moment again, thus he needs to take action now and WE need to take action now.  If you have the opportunity to do something for someone else, do it now as you will never have that exact moment again!!!

Final Thoughts

I hope that this quote really speaks to you like it does to me.  It inspires me to be the best I can be and be of service to others.  It reminds me to smile at people, hold the door for them, do the little things that cost almost nothing to do but pays dividends in happiness and joy, both for you and the lives you touch. 

Remember this quote as you head out into your day.  If you have an opportunity to do something good for someone, do it right away.  Seize the moment and touch the life of another person.  A random act of kindness can kick off a chain reaction of kindness that ripples throughout the lives of many.

Share with your friends!!!

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