Pediatrician Alastair McAlpine gave some of his terminal patients an assignment. What they told him can inspire us all.

"Kids can be so wise, y'know," the Cape Town doctor and ultra-marathon enthusiast posted to his Twitter account. He asked the young patients, short on time, about the things that really mattered to them.

What followed was a string of life advice that'll make you want to be a better person, no matter how old you are.


First, it's worth looking at what wasn't important to these kids.

"NONE said they wished they'd watched more TV. NONE said they should've spent more time on Facebook. NONE said they enjoyed fighting with others. NONE enjoyed [the] hospital," tweeted McAlpine.

Many talked about the people and animals who would miss them when they were gone.

"I love Rufus," one child told McAlpine about their dog. "His funny bark makes me laugh." Others worried about whether their parents would be OK.

They all loved stories, and many wish they'd spent less time and energy worrying about what others thought about them.

"ALL of them loved books or being told stories, especially by their parents," wrote McAlpine, who then shared a couple short anecdotes about Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes, and literary adventures in space.

They also understood that people who treat you differently for superficial reasons, like your hair or a surgery scar, aren't worth worrying about.

What was important was having fun, being kind, and holding on to their sense of humor.

These kids loved swimming and playing on the beach, and they valued others who extended kindness to them along the way. "I like it when that kind nurse is here," one patient told McAlpine. "She's gentle. And it hurts less."

Above all, they cherished their families (and favorite toys).

"They ALL valued time with their family," said McAlpine. "Nothing was more important."

There's a lot we can learn from these kids — and it's incredibly easy to incorporate their lessons into our lives.

There are seven simple takeaways (well, eight if you count "eat ice cream"):

"Be kind. Read more books. Spend time with your family. Crack jokes. Go to the beach. Hug your dog. Tell that special person you love them."

Easy enough, right?

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