August 6th will always be etched in my memory.  That is the day my dad passed away from lung cancer over 18 years ago.  As I was thinking back on his life, I realized how many life lessons he taught me.  My dad was not much of a talker, he taught us through his actions.

He had a very different and I would say difficult childhood.  He was one of many kids and no father as his father died when he was very young. He did not graduate high school either.

I tell you all of these things because he was a person who rose above his circumstances to become a great dad.  He and my mom raised 6 kids together.  He rarely ever spoke about his upbringing to us.  He just decided to give us a better childhood compared to his.

The life lessons I learned from my Dad helped mold me into the person I am today and here are the simple things that we can all do to experience a more joy filled life.

1.  Get up early and get to work.  I attribute my work ethic to my dad.  With no high school diploma, my dad ran a successful contractor business.  He worked until the work was done.

2.  Give back to your church and community.  I remember my Dad volunteering after Sunday mass by helping to count the collection offering.  He would meet the family for breakfast after.  He would also help kids in jail by giving them a job on work release.  I remember going to pick up and drop off one kid in particular.  He knew many of these kids just needed a second chance and a good role model.

3.  Set high expectations.  We knew what was expected of us as kids.  Stay out of trouble, get good grades and be on time.

I am grateful for the 32 years I had with my Dad and all the lessons I learned.  He was not perfect (no one is) but as I look back on his life, it is hard for me to believe how consciously different he raised us from how he was raised.

No matter what life throws at you, you have the choice to make the best of it for yourself but more importantly for others too!