By Scott Westerman
“Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves – regret for the past and fear of the future.” – Fulton Oursler
Life happens. Time passes and we all tend to get caught up in the minutia of the day to day. It’s easy to forget the important stuff.
If you were suddenly faced with your own mortality, would you have any regrets? What would they be?
Bronnie Ware knows the answer. She works with people who have gone home to die. In a recent blog post, she identified the top 5 regrets reported by individuals who have entered the last lap of their earthly adventure.
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
Have your worries about the perceptions of others kept you from chasing your dreams? You may regret this later. Try making a few of those dreams real while you still have your health. As Brittany Renée says, “I would much rather have regrets about not doing what people said, than regretting not doing what my heart led me to and wondering what life had been like if I’d just been myself.”
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
The birth of our first grandchild combined with Colleen’s escape from cancer totally refocused us on the everyday milestones that make a lifetime. It’s easy to get hooked on things and spend a lot of our energy earning the money to get them. Your career and your material possessions are only two dimensions of your existence. They do not truly define who you are. What does define you? Are you investing some time in that direction?
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Conflict avoidance is the road to mediocrity. If you swallow too many emotions your body will manifest them in uncomfortable ways. Clearing the bad juju out of the imaginary wheelbarrow you push around will make your burden lighter. Having the courage to give honest feedback to someone is the greatest gift you an give them.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Aside from our families, we have many acquaintances, but very few true friends. Who are yours? How are you celebrating and nurturing those relationships? During the toughest moments of our lives, our family and friends make all the difference.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can always control how we react. Chasing your joy is the single most important objective of a life well lived. Happiness is a choice we make. Choose it.
I would add one more to Bronnie’s list:
6. I wish I had taken better care of my body.
We feel invincible when we are young. That can open the door to unhealthy habits. Every day we add or subtract from the bank of energy we’re given for a lifetime. Be thoughtful of what you put into your “marvelous machine”. You may get to keep it longer.
The journey toward any objective begins with commitment. Make the decision today to live a life, not an apology.
In the words of some long forgotten sage, “Accept the pain, cherish the joys, resolve the regrets; then can come the best of benedictions – ‘If I had my life to live over again, I’d do it all the same.’”