We have a granddaughter who is graduating from high school in a couple of weeks. Joining with her parents, my wife and I are so proud of her and her accomplishments —good grades, skilled musicianship, sound work ethic, accepting of responsibility, a fun person, respect for others and meaningful friendships. Of course, we think she is ideal.

In a couple of weeks, along with numerous others, she will reach the monumental milestone of becoming a high school graduate. Certainly, she is to be congratulated for her diligence and achievement. High school graduation is no small accomplishment.

However, no sooner will she graduate than another phase of her life will commence. The future. As the late Charles F. Kettering, an American inventor and businessman, observed, “My interest is in the future because I am going to spend the rest of my life there.”

In our granddaughter’s case, she will be off to college in the fall. It’s at this point that I want to share with her a few words of prayerful wisdom. You see, an interest in the future is critical, but a measure of direction is also essential. In some respect, with our granddaughter, I feel like I am speaking to the choir, but here goes anyway.

First, be something rather than have something. Who you are is far more important than what you do, have or accomplish. Jesus was speaking of this when he said, “For what will it profit a person, if he/she gains the whole world and forfeits his/her life?” (Matthew 16:25). The one irreplaceable value in a person’s life is character.

Second, target your passion. In the play “Amadeus,” Salieri, the court musician, realizes the young Mozart’s talent when he hears him for the first time. As he compares his own mediocre gifts, he confides to the audience, “Is it enough just to have passion?”

A daughter who saw that play was deeply affected by it and asked, “Is it enough just to have passion?”

Her father answered, “It is not only enough, it is everything.”

More talented and gifted people fail because of a lack of passion than anything else. Neil Diamond defines passion “as the Super Bowl of enthusiasm.” Passion is the fire that burns in our bellies that will not be extinguished.

Third, attitude is monumental. The longer I live the more convinced I am that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond to it. The single most important decision I make on a daily basis is my choice of attitude. And I’m sure that my attitude either keeps me going or cripples my prayers. And the same will be true of you.

Fourth, laugh a lot; it’s good medicine. Laughter is the thing that makes most everything else on my list doable. So many people tend to lose the joy in their lives. And I’m not even talking about the tragedies and troubles that come our way. I’m talking about life’s awesome responsibilities that have a way of creeping up on us, wearing us out, making us deadly serious and robbing us of our joy.

Someone said, “Laughter is like changing a baby’s diaper — it doesn’t solve any problem permanently, but it makes things more acceptable for a while.”

And finally, live a life of commitment.

Writing in the introduction of his book “The Second Mountain,” David Brooks, a well known New York Times columnist and author, states, “The goals of that first mountain are the normal goals that our our culture endorses — to be a success, to be well thought of, to get invited into the right social circles, and to experience personal happiness ... Then something happens. Some people get to the top of that first mountain, taste success, and find it  ... unsatisfying.”

The point I want to make here is to seek to live a committed life — to God, others and good social causes. In other words, real joy and meaning is to be found in living beyond self.

I’m sure my granddaughter already knows these things, but my preacher instinct and love for her merits it anyway.

The Rev. Hal Brady is an ordained United Methodist minister and executive director of Hal Brady Ministries, based in Atlanta. You can watch him preach every week on the Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters TV channel Thursdays at 8 p.m.

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