Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | January 1, 2010

Valvano’s Sage Advice

Jimmy Valvano

   James Thomas Anthony Valvano (1946 – 1993), nicknamed Jimmy V, enjoyed a nineteen-year career as a head basketball coach. While serving as the head coach at North Carolina State University, his team defeated the University of Houston with a last-minute desperation shot and won the 1983 NCAA Basketball Tournament. The ever-enthusiastic Valvano ran around the court in stunned disbelief and celebration. After leaving NCSU, Valvano became an award-winning commentator at ESPN and ABC and also gave hundreds of motivational speeches across the country. In June 1992, Valvano was diagnosed with bone cancer and told he had a year to live.

   Two months before his death in 1993, Valvano was awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award at the first ESPY Awards, an annual sports awards event created by ESPN. It was at that event that Valvano announced the creation of  the Jimmy V Foundation — a charitable organization dedicated to helping find a cure for cancer. During his speech, Valvano said the following: 

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. And 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. 

Jimmy Valvano died two months later. He is buried in the Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh. North Carolina. His tombstone is engraved with the words he spoke at the ESPY Awards: Take time every day to laugh, to think, to cry. 

   I like Valvano’s simple but sage advice. As we prepare to take our first steps into the New Year, it would be good for each of us to consider how we will live each day. 

Laugh | The Bible teaches, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Prov. 17:22). Modern medicine affirms that laughter is indeed good medicine. Among other things, laughter relieves tension, releases endorphins, increases blood flow, and relaxes the body. So, laugh and enjoy life. Look for opportunities to bring joy and laughter into the lives of others. Good humor is far more contagious than a bad cough and can bring people together. And, don’t take yourself too seriously. Remember that it’s ok to laugh at yourself. Spend time with those who know how to laugh at themselves and who can find humor in everyday events. I made a resolution several years ago to spend more time with friends who eat ice cream than with those who eat beans. 

Think | The Bible has much to say about thinking. The writer of Proverbs (14:15) observed, “A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.” We should think deeply about our steps every day. Thinking deeply is a prerequisite to living wisely. One of the reasons I enjoy blogging on a regular basis is that it holds me accountable for thinking about various topics every day. Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). You can’t love God “with all your mind” unless you think. So, think deeply, creatively, and critically. 

Cry | The Bible also addresses the matter of shedding tears. The Psalmist (126:5) said, “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.” What makes you cry? In addition to shedding tears of joy, we must also shed tears that spring forth from the things that make us angry or sad — issues like injustice, abuse, tragedies, and neglect. Many great things have been accomplished because someone wept over serious concerns and then acted to do something to address those concerns. I think that we do not weep as much as we should because our lives are relatively safe, comfortable, and secure. But, imagine what could happen this year if each of us wept and then intentionally acted on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves, those who are destitute (Prov. 31:8). God can use our tears to change the world for others. 

I hope that you have a wonderful New Year and that throughout the year you will heed Valvano’s sage advice to laugh, to think, and to cry every day.

• • • • •

PS | Check out my website for two simple plans for reading through the Bible in 2010. Set aside a few minutes each day and in one year you will have read all 31,102 verses in the 1,189 chapters of the Bible.


Responses

  1. Omar-

    Thanks for the articles. I am following the Bible reading windows. (Your yearly plans of bible reading).

    Mortuza,
    Bangladesh

  2. Thanks for the challenge and reminder Omar! Wishing your family the best in 2010~

  3. Mortuza and Celia…

    Thanks for your comments. Best wishes for a blessed New Year.

    Omar~


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