Three Things

When I was about fourteen, I watched a cancer-stricken Jim Valvano give an amazing speech at the 1993 ESPY Awards. That speech has stuck with me ever since. Here’s the speech in its entirety:

The part that always got to me was near the start of the speech:

When people say to me how do you get through life or each day, it’s the same thing. To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.

Laugh. Think. Cry.

The Simple Dollar is a personal finance blog, so I write about money topics most of the time. Managing our money and maximizing what we get out of it is important.

Yet, for all the money we spend, all of the possessions we have, and all of the professional stress we put ourselves under, none of it touches the feeling of a good laugh. Few things elate me more than learning something new. Few things help take the pain away from an emotional fall and bring about understanding quite like a shed tear.

I have a marriage to keep up, three children to raise, countless professional projects to work on, many personal interests that desire attention, and many community responsibilities. Pretty much every single day involves running through a long to-do list.

One thing I’ve tried hard to do, every day, is make room for three more things on that list. Laugh. Think. Cry.

They make a day more complete. They leave me feeling more alive than when I woke up that morning. I feel more in touch with the world and more in touch with me if I make room for laughter, tears, and a new idea in my life.

Challenge yourself today to do those three things. Laugh. Think. Cry. See if it doesn’t leave you in a better place than when you started without even spending a penny.

At the end of the speech, Valvano says, “Cancer can take away all my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever.”

Laugh. Think. Cry. Sounds like a good day to me.

Trent Hamm
Trent Hamm
Founder of The Simple Dollar

Trent Hamm founded The Simple Dollar in 2006 after developing innovative financial strategies to get out of debt. Since then, he’s written three books (published by Simon & Schuster and Financial Times Press), contributed to Business Insider, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, and Lifehacker, and been featured in The New York Times, TIME, Forbes, The Guardian, and elsewhere.

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