An excerpt from the 2008 book What I wish I knew at eighteen by Daniel Gregory & Marty Wilson.

Thanks! What a magical word. Imagine you only have one minute left to live. What do you do? Some people conjure up images of jumping off the Empire State Building and enjoying the ride down (you would want to be sure you calculated your trip down to finish after the minute).

Me? I have had almost an opposite experience of one minute to live. My dad died on 20 November 2000 at the age of 82. I visited him in the hospital and knew instinctively that he was not coming home. They were flying him to Sydney for further treatment, but I felt that Dad’s time was nigh.

With the concept of Dad not having many hours left, I went home and wrote a letter to my dad. I thanked Dad. I put into words how much he meant to me and how much he influenced me. I recounted examples when I felt that Dad was really there for me. I said that I still thought he could push a shopping trolley faster than any other Dad.

The overall experience was both sad and uplifting for me. I shed many tears writing the letter, and even now, it still brings a tear to my eye.

I gave it to my dad as he lay in hospital, but I didn’t watch him read it—I asked him to wait until I had left before he read it. Mum told me it gave him a great amount of joy as he read it over and over in the hospital and again on the plane. When Dad did die, I felt much better knowing that he died with the knowledge that he had been appreciated.

With one minute left, my best advice would be to try to thank all of those people who have helped you. If that is good advice for one minute left to live, why wait until then? As life goes on, you start to realise just how much work it takes from lots of people to make things “just happen.” Find those people—and thank them.

Lots of people care about you, and they genuinely want you to be happy and successful. So, of all my rules, this one is the most serious rule. It is also the easiest to implement. You don’t have to look very hard to find people you can thank.

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