Why Everything is the Best — and in my Top Five!

I recently saw the movie Inception — it’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. In fact, it’s in my top five movies of all time.

Okay—I admit—there are now 358 movies in my top five.

My closest friends such as Les Clairmont kid me mercilessly when I exclaim yet once again, “That is the best _________ (insert almost any drink, food, book, movie, song, day, moment) I’ve ever had!

Fortunately, my dear friend and neighbor Michael Hyatt has taken some of the pressure off me. He is one of the few people I know who also celebrates every moment as the “best.”

By a twist of fate (and great parenting) I was able to grow up in the desolate poverty of coal-mining towns in the Appalachians and somehow emerge a millionaire in optimism. As Loretta Lynn says, “We were poor but we didn’t know we were poor.”

My parents did not graduate high school and had three children by the age of 21. They were children raising children—and yet, somehow I learned to savour, and yes, celebrate the magic of life.

Consider this, I am the first person in the entire history of the Elrod family to graduate high school. I am the only person to graduate college.

My parents have never been on an airplane, never been to a movie theatre, never learned to swim, and have rarely if ever traveled outside the Southeastern United States—they have never been to California, never seen the beauty and majesty of Yellowstone, Yosemite or the Grand Canyon. Ofttimes when I am enjoying an adventure that will ultimately be one of my “best”, I wistfully wish my Mom could join me and see through my eyes.

I helped teach my grandpa Elrod how to read and write. I distinctly remember his primer notebook with the three big lines, you know, the one in the middle with dashes and his Dick and Jane reader. In return, he would regale me with his adventures to California and the insatiable call of the West.

I will never forget the awe I felt watching him swim, hoping one day to emulate that extraordinary feat. It was in the Atlantic Ocean on a once-in-a-lifetime family travel vacation to Florida. We drove ten hours to Daytona Beach, stayed one day, and promptly drove ten hours back home—my brother and I watching the beach fade away in the rear window having barely touched it. But I loved every short minute of it! Yep, you guessed it, it was the “best” vacation I ever had.

My Mom often tells me in her beautiful southern drawl, as I regale her with my tales of adventure and insatiable calling, “Randy, I wouldn’t believe I birthed you, except I can’t deny you ’cause you look just like me.”

Miraculously, I managed to graduate high school, earn a full tuition academic scholarship and college degree (B.A. in Music from Palm Beach Atlantic University), and even complete a few graduate level courses.

As I grew older, I took my first (I’m now a million-miler) of many airplane flights, have a love affair with movies (I’ve been in a couple), finished a triathlon (a third of it swimming, sort of), traveled to far eastern ports of call, enjoyed African safaris, climbed the world’s highest mountains, and reveled in the cultural centers of London, Paris, Sydney, San Francisco, Florence, New York and Rome. I’ve savored the vivid contrasts of the dusty Australian outback and verdant islands called Virgin.

Why do I tell you all this? (Oh, I could tell you more—much of which you would not believe.)

To brag. No.

To influence. Yes.

Decide that every new day will be the “best.”

Decide that every new adventure (no matter how mundane or exotic) will be the ultimate.

Decide that every new sight, sound, smell, taste and touch will be in your top five.

Am I deceived? Do I live in denial?

Jimmy Dean said it this way, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

But this Maria Robinson quote really captures the essence of this post.

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”


84 responses to “Why Everything is the Best — and in my Top Five!”

  1. bluegoose Avatar

    Sorry I’m late to the party…been kinda holed up grieving my little brother’s death. David’s funeral was the first time my hubs had ever been to my Appalachia and my girls hadn’t been there in nearly 12 yrs. After the funeral, I wanted to show them the bridge where I chose the name of our oldest daughter, Carolina Dawn. After driving down the winding road for about 30 mins, my Carolina herself began to complain of her tummy hurting from all the turning!!!
    We finally made it out to my family’s land just as it was getting dark so didn’t stay long. My girls got to see how their Mom is so hick…..my Mom actually grew up another 10 mi out from where we were! (we moved to the Dallas, TX area when I was 12!)
    It was a unique and expressly sad time to share my mountains, especially Shoop mtn, with my hubs of over 20 yrs, knowing that one of the sweetest and dearest men in my life is now buried over in a valley off of Cowee.
    Thank you for sharing…today is the first morn since Oct 14 that my hubs has mentioned that I’m chipper again! It is nice to feel like me but I know the full grieving process is not over, just getting better! (sorry I wrote a small book!)

  2. alece Avatar

    the more i discover of your story and the more i know of you, the more in awe i become at the unmistakable redemption of God. you’ve already done/become/influenced so much, and yet i know it’s only the beginning. and i can’t help but smile.

    i’m so grateful for you and chris in my life.

  3. Ani Avatar

    This made me laugh! You are amazing. I’ve never met you but you always make me smile. I love the attitude. Every day of our life is a gift from God, let’s celebrate life. Like in the Bible : choose life, choose blessing. Let’s enjoy it.

    I know I’ve been absent but I started a new job in September and now I replace a colleague for 6 months and it’s taking a lot of time and I’m on the road a lot. That and my social life forced me to prioritize my life and internet is the least important in my life. It’s time consuming. Has nothing to do with you and others on internet but the time I spent on internet. But it’s a great job, loving it, reorganizing the office, being creative, making new plans, my colleagues are fun to work with. I love to go to my work because of the challenges every day and fun with my colleagues.

    Have a great week. Bye bye.

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @Ani, Thanks so much,Ani. Congratulations on the new job!!

  4. Jason Avatar

    ““Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”

    That’s a fantastic quote, Randy. Thank you for sharing it with us!

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @Jason, Yes, I just wish I had said it…first. :) Thanks, Jason!

  5. Tony Alicea Avatar

    I absolutely love this. I have been shifting my life perspective around this. It’s not as much as the power of positive thinking as being fully present in every moment. I wrote a very similar blog post recently called Best. Life. Ever. If you’re interested: http://www.tonyjalicea.com/2010/10/best-life-ever/

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @Tony Alicea, Tony, Your post is awesome and eerily similar to mine. However, I LOVE that you bring out the essence of the “best” by saying “It’s not as much as the power of positive thinking as being fully present in every moment.”

      Thanks for the link to your post.

      Glad you found me so that I can read you!


  6. […] wrote a beautiful post about seeing the best in […]

  7. Chris Jeub Avatar

    My favorite line of this post: “By a twist of fate (and great parenting) I was able to grow up in the desolate poverty.” Poverty sometimes brings out the best in families.

    Fantastic post!

    1. Randy Avatar

      @Chris Jeub, Yes. It’s that damn biblical thing about suffering or some such “nonsense.” :) It seems to make you better. Ha! So true. Thanks, Chris!

  8. Keith Jennings Avatar


    This post rose and broke like a beautiful wave on the North Shore, and you rode it beautifully! It’s obvious from the comments, we onlookers enjoyed watching you ride it.

    Go back and read your post. But read it as if you were a reader and the writer was God. That’s what happened as I read this. I read it as God (through you) excitedly calling me out into this big beautiful crazy world to live and worship in it (because He knows what awaits us).

    I get drunk watching my children’s faces as they see things for the first time. Imagine how excited God gets watching us encounter and experience this world. And the next.

    Beautiful, beautiful post. Reveals a lot about the heart from which it came.

    1. Randy Avatar

      @Keith Jennings, Oh my gosh, Keith. I did it. I needed to do it. And it changed everything. Still processing….Oh my…

  9. Henway Avatar

    Inspiring stuff, Randy. For many years I used to live with regret, and anger towards my past. I always believed in the “there’s only 1 life” philosophy, and because I couldn’t change my past, I thought life was unfair, and couldn’t change anything. But recently, I’ve been inspired to make changes. Like you said, you can’t change the beginning but you can change the ending.

    1. Randy Avatar

      @Henway, Thanks, Henway. Yes, as long as we are breathing, there is always time for change. Awesome!

  10. Janet Lyn Avatar

    Randy, this is definitely the BEST blog post I’ve read today!!!!
    I was laughing and smiling while I was reading because I, too, drive my friends crazy and cause them to roll their eyes and shake their heads and grin a lot because I find so much joy in so many things. And I am very vocal and exuberant about it. Big shocker. LOL
    Of course, that only encourages me more to see the very BEST in them and the world around me.
    I have experienced a lot of loss in my life, ever since I was 5 years old. But I choose to seize life and savor it and live with passion and great joy because of those experiences.
    I have also embarked on a lot of crazy adventures and I loved them all.
    Life is for living and not for regrets.
    For me, life is the greatest adventure of them all. Or should I say, the very BEST adventure of them all. I don’t want to miss any of it.
    Thanks for what you shared. Life is all about second chances, third acts, new possibilities and pursuing your dreams with all your heart.

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @Janet Lyn, Janet, love this quote: “Life is for living and not for regrets.” So true!! Thanks!

  11. Heather T Avatar
    Heather T

    LOVE it!! I’m a coal miner’s granddaughter. Don’t even know if he graduated HS. He lived on the side of a mntn in WV and had no desire to go anywhere else. He did leave the country once. To go fight a war. Maybe that’s why he no longer had a desire to travel, esp out of the US. But me? Been out of the country multiple times to anywhere I can go: Europe, Mexico, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Africa just to name a few. And I’m looking forward to even more adventures. I, too, wish I could’ve shared some of them w/him. My grandmother wanted to travel but had a stroke before she could. Broke my heart. Live while you can and enjoy the trip! :)

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @Heather T, Ah, kindred lives!! Love it!!

  12. brandiandboys Avatar

    this post perfectly describes you… and why you’re loved by so many!!! :)

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @brandiandboys, Thanks so much, Brandi!!

  13. Sandra Heska King Avatar

    This is the best post I’ve read all day.

    And because the day was unseasonably warm and I saw a Monarch butterfly (in Michigan) and because the moon is so crescent and the stars are like sparkling grains of sand on the shore tonight and I got to babysit my grandbaby (who is the best baby every) and because I did not miss this post (probably your best), this has been the best day!

    I drive my husband crazy sometimes.

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @Sandra Heska King, I LOVE it!! May our craziness continue…forever!!

  14. Jenni Catron Avatar

    Randy, so inspiring to hear more of your story! I have recently been reflecting on my lack of joy in the moments of life. Thank you for challenging me!

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @Jenni Catron, Thanks, Jenni!! Be joyful!!!

  15. Grant Jenkins Avatar

    Excellent! Love this, Randy! How inspiring!

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @Grant Jenkins, Thanks so much, Grant!!

  16. jesse santoyo Avatar

    Amazing post Bro!!! Totally needed to read that. Encouraging beyond words. May I feature this blog on my site? Randy, that hour and 35 minutes I was fortunate enough to spend with you, made a huge impact in my life man…Keep on doing what you do!!!

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @jesse santoyo, Absolutely!! Thanks, Jesse. Likewise. We need to do it again!

  17. tam Avatar

    randy – this is why you are loved so deeply. you inspire, you encourage and you challenge people to live beyond the norm!

    thank you for that…

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @tam, Thanks so much, Tam. That means a lot!!

  18. Jessie Avatar

    Greatness Randy! I better understand why I so relate to you. Best blog ever, by my favorite blogger. Thank you.

    Now, if I could just get you to appreciate the greatness of McRib. The best fake meat of all time and best served with, no after, two glasses of Scotch.

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @Jessie, I would definitely need four glasses to really appreciate the culinary wonders of the McRib. Ha!

  19. Johnna Bigelow Avatar
    Johnna Bigelow

    This confirms what I’ve suspected over the past few months, you are my brother from another mother! ;-)

  20. Peggy Reeves Avatar

    Thanks Randy. Exceptionally great post!!! You passion to live life FULLY is definitely contagious. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  21. Chuck Harris Avatar


    like Benjamin Zander says, there are three ways to see things. We can see them with resignation, anger or possiblity. Thanks for always pointing out the possibitlies. i needed to hear that today.

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @Chuck Harris, Thanks, Chuck. You always inspire me with possibility!

  22. Clint Talton Avatar
    Clint Talton

    Thanks for posting this Randy. Your background is so similar to mine. I have been so fortunate to be able to experience a lot of things and places that my parents and grandparents would never even think about. A small town mentality can be so limiting.

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @Clint Talton, Yes, Clint. Kudos for making the break!! It is harder than people think.

  23. Kayla Avatar

    I love, LOVE love to travel, to see new things, to experience cultures, and to interact with new people. My family members do not understand following people on twitter, stalking blogs, and meeting people face-to-face that you’ve only talked to online. However, I thrive on it and consider it my primary form of community most of the time.

    I grew up in WV, and my mom was lucky to graduate high school. My stepdad dropped out and joined the army. My grandpa didn’t make it past 5th grade and my grandma didn’t make it past 7th…yet Papaw was an amazingly talented masonry worker and taught me long division on a magna doodle on his porch swing when I was 7. I can only imagine what he could have done had he been able to attend college. He is an extremely smart man, but most people didn’t make the effort to see it.

    In light of this, I take every opportunity possible to push myself. I want to experience things not only for myself, but for them.

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @Kayla, Kayla, your comment is so inspiring!! Thanks. My Grandpa Elrod was a stonemason. Very similar.

      Keep pushing…and by all means enjoy the propelling!!

  24. Rich Kirkpatrick Avatar

    Inspired! Thanks for this. Even the darkest times of our lives can and should be the “best”–it may be all we have…life.

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @Rich Kirkpatrick, Yes, indeed! Thanks, Rich.

  25. Rick Nelson Avatar
    Rick Nelson

    Randy, this post is one of the reasons I love following you on Twitter. You constantly remind me that from good food and drink to travel, and everything between (art, life, philosophy, politics, friendship, community), life should be enjoyed rather than endured. Even though we’ve never met, you are in my top five mentors for how to live abundantly. Thanks for this post and many others I’ve never commented on. You are a blessing!


    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @Rick Nelson, Rick, thanks so much! And the value of mentorship is being mentored by your mentees. Thus: “life should be enjoyed rather than endured.”

      Great quote!!

  26. Brennan Loveless Avatar

    Great thoughts Randy! Great to meet you back in Chicago at Story! Hopefully i will see you soon, and thanks for the words of wisdom!

  27. McNair Wilson Avatar

    Your life is officially in my “Top Five Lives” I admire. Wait…not “admire” (that word is too puny and off target.) It’s your attitude, perspective, state of mind.

    You had me (today) at “a millionaire in optimism.” I have been witness to this unrestrained joyousness, your ebullience. Though we have been connected, via the World Wide Web, for some time, we only just met in-person a couple weeks ago (10/10.) You were “under the weather”—way under—and yet you showed up, with verve and elan and guided us (attendees at Ken Davis’ miraculous “Professional Communicators Summit”) through your inspiring and salient overview of New Media, social networking as business tools.

    Your head may well have been fogged-in, but your presentation was clear, focused, fun, and immensely valuable. (I thought, at the time, that had you been firing on all plugs, the room would have been too small for you.

    I’ve asked “my people” to add you to the “Five People I’d Most Like to Have a Long Meal With.” (The guest list is much longer than five names, and growing.)

    SO, until further notice, you have a seat at the table with the “RESERVED” sign. The small print says, “For McNair and the LTLG Gang. (Larger Than Life Gang.)”

    But the great acting teacher Uta Hagen once replied to an acting student who asked “You want me to be larger than life?”

    “Oh, my dear boy” Ms. Hagen said, “There is nothing that is larger than life.”

    Thanks, Randy.

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @McNair Wilson, McNair, “Oh, my dear boy” Ms. Hagen said, “There is nothing that is larger than life.”

      Priceless!! As is your comment.


  28. Curt Avatar

    I visited this blog on the Facebook advice of Matt Baugher. He’s the best…..oh, sorry. Anyway, great post! Loved it! I couldn’t help but think of the people who decide to cage themselves because of the way they were raised or because “that’s the way it is in my family.” You certainly are evidence that you can bust open the walls and escape to great adventures!


    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @Curt, Thanks, Curt. Yes, i agree. Matt is the “best.”

      I think that is why Rich Dad, Poor Dad resonated with so many.

      I go back home and see all the same people still there, just married to somebody different.

      Some of them are very happy, others are hopelessly trapped and stuck.

  29. Brent Minter Avatar

    I Love it. I needed the reminder today.

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @Brent Minter, Thank, Brent. I think we all do!

  30. Kathleen Overby Avatar

    iLike X 1000. :) It’s your best post. My favorite. Top Five.

    “I haven’t been this happy since last time I was this happy.”

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @Kathleen Overby, Love it! Love it! “I haven’t been this happy since last time I was this happy.”

      Your comment and the others have made this Monday the best Monday I’ve had in a while!!



  31. Julie Kolb Avatar
    Julie Kolb

    Love this one, too, Randy…And goes with one of my Tweets yesterday, which was…

    “If my life had a title it would be “Great Adventure” (like the amusement park)”

    My life has it’s ups and downs, just like a good roller coaster, but oh what a thrilling ride it has been…I don’t want to get off the ride of life…I’m enjoying every minute of it…Life is what you make of it!!!…GREAT ADVENTURE

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @Julie Kolb, Yes. I love adventure, and life certainly is the greatest of all adventures. Thanks, Julie!

  32. Deb Barnett Avatar

    Love it! Definitely “the best” blog I’ve read in a while! :) I’m with you on all it… to quote my friend Luci Swindoll, “My goal is to live the life out of every day”.

    On a side note: I love that you’re from the Appalachia area… I’ve spent some time there (the Eastern KY end) and adore the people.

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @Deb Barnett, Deb, love that Luci quote!! “My goal is to live the life out of every day”.

      And yes, the people are amazing there!

  33. Leilani Haywood Avatar

    We have a lot in common except Michael Hyatt isn’t my neighbor. I’m the first to graduate from college in my immediate family. The first to be married one time only to my best friend, the first homeowner and the first with a professional job. My father was a farm laborer and my mother a former druggie. Christ radically changed my life at 18 and it’s been a great adventure ever since. Tx for sharing your heart.

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @Leilani Haywood, Wow!! And thanks for sharing yours as well!!

  34. Audra Krell Avatar

    Really incredible Randy, perfect way to start off the week. I think your next book should be about your life experiences, actually I’m requesting a series of books from you. You are way more than an influencer, a supreme, I mean the best, encourager. Thank you!

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @Audra Krell, Thanks, Audra!! Hmmmmmm…an idea…

  35. Mark Bovee Avatar
    Mark Bovee

    Love this, Randy. It has to be the best blog post I have ever read.

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @Mark Bovee, Wow!!! That is honestly one of the “best” compliments I’ve ever had!


  36. Earl Rutledge Avatar
    Earl Rutledge


    This was the best blog to start my day with. It certainly goes with, ” His mercies are NEW every morning.” If we just looked at life through the amazing eyes of a child. I think that would help many more of life’s experiences to be “the best.”

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @Earl Rutledge, Yes, Earl, great point and verse. Maybe that’s why Jesus said, “Do not forbid these children coming to me.”

  37. Spence Smith Avatar

    Man… this one speaks right to me! This is one of the places you and I see eye to eye… I’m always on the go to somewhere else getting to experience life as it happens which if a blast.

    what makes me love this post so much is i’m always using these phrases… It’s the best, It’s incredible, It’s awesome!!! One of my top 5 experiences…

    yep… for some of my friends i adjust my reaction from great to good… but only for those who i deem necessary:)

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @Spence Smith, You’re the “best” Spence!! Ha!! Thanks.

  38. Rocco Capra Avatar

    I love your enthusiasm, and I love hanging out here to be encouraged, inspired and influenced!

    One of your “best” blog posts!

    “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”

    Love it!

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @Rocco Capra, Thanks, Rocco. I’m so glad I have the “best” commenters and “hanger-outers” in the blogosphere! :)

  39. Janet Oberholtzer Avatar

    Love this post!!

    I’ve always been an eternal optimist … but my optimism feels slightly different now because I lost it for a season … during my recovery from accident injuries that almost killed me. For a time I was a depressed, disappointed pessimist, wishing I would have enjoyed my life more pre-accident.

    Slowly it dawned on me I can’t go back or forward … I only have TODAY!

    So I learned to “To what I could, with what I had, where I was” (Roosevelt) and slowly my optimism returned … with even more value, because I now live with a new normal (pain/limitations/deformed leg) and I realize that I’ll never have this moment/this day/this me again, so I aim to live like each day is the best and tomorrow will be even better than today!

    Thanks for this reminder to “Decide that every new day will be the “best.”

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @Janet Oberholtzer, Awesome, Janet. I would do well to heed your words here. Could i be an optimist going through what you have endured?
      I hope so. You certainly are a shining example!! Thanks for joining the conversation.

  40. Vince Avatar

    I reminded of a song lyric that has haunted me for a few months:

    “Decide what to be and go be it”

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @Vince, Nice. Vince, whose lyric is that? I love it!!

      1. Vince Avatar

        @Randy Elrod, Avett Brothers – “head full of doubt/road full of promise” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t43VgJ4U9_Q

  41. Brewster Avatar

    Very inspiring Randy.

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @Brewster, Thanks so much, Steve.

  42. Lamar Hahn Avatar
    Lamar Hahn

    You and I have a lot in common except I do not live next door to Micheal Hyatt. He’s a good one. I am sure ne is blessed to have you as a neighbor. As a matter of fact I believe he said “You’r the best”

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @Lamar Hahn, Ha!!! Thanks, Lamar!! I love commonalities, and Michael is indeed a great neighbor.

  43. Chad Jarnagin Avatar

    This post represents many of the reasons I dig you.

    I’m hoping that the zeal you have for enjoying life continues to get on me.

    Lovely post. See you soon hombre.

    1. Randy Elrod Avatar

      @Chad Jarnagin, Thanks, Chad. Likewise!