I recently read an article, written by Sue Steiner, in The Guardian in which a nurse documented interviews that she did with patients who were dying. She wanted to know what their top regrets in life were. The answers were thought-provoking!
No one mentioned doing more crazy things like jumping out of aeroplanes or swimming with sharks. They spoke of things that I feel are the so easily overlooked in our lives. Mostly because we focus on the wrong things. We want to “find happiness”, so many people spend all there time slaving away, and forget to look around and appreciate this life that we have been given. One of the top 5 regrets that people gave at the end of their lives was this: “I wish that I had not worked so hard”.
These were the top 5 regrets:
“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me”
Wow, who isn’t guilt of this one?… At least at some stage of our life?
Our spouse, our parents, our friends. We try to live up their expectations, and neglect to live the life that we want for ourselves. How many have dreams that they never accomplish? I feel that this is mostly true with regards to dreams and travel. After all these years of traveling, I can honestly say that I will never regret a single day that I have spent saving for a trip, backpacking through foreign lands, trying out new foods, talking to locals, and learning about different cultures.
Get out there – Live the life that you want to live.
Stop trying to live up to others expectations. Some people are so bitter about their own lives that they try to tell you how to live yours. Break free of that. At the end of your life, you will only have yourself to blame for not having the courage to live the life you had wanted.
“I wish I had not worked so hard”
How sad that so many miss their children’s youth, dinners with family, and time with their spouse. They work so hard “to provide”, and forget that there is only one true provider. Now matter how hard you work, everything that you have could be taken away. You can get money, and then lose it all again, but time lost with loved ones can never be reclaimed.
“I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings”
How often do we suppress our feelings in order to keep the peace among family and friends. There is much virtue in learning when to talk, and when to walk away, however holding onto the feelings can make you sick inside. Harbouring bitterness and resentment can lead to illness. Staying angry or hurt about things you can’t change will eat away at your soul. Let go of those things. Focus on what is good, and true, in your life. Those are the things that will take you forward. If you feel “stuck” right now, ask yourself – What am I holding onto?
“I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends”
So many of us are so caught up in our own lives that we let some of the most beautiful relationships in our lives slip away. Having modern technology is both a positive and negative. For us, living abroad, it would be incredibly difficult to keep in touch with our friends if we did not have technology to help us along. We went off Facebook for a year, during our first teaching contract in China. We enjoyed this quiet time, however along the way we lost contact with very close friends who we were only linked to, through Facebook. Isn’t that crazy?! We had to go back onto Facebook while planning our wedding so that we could try and contact those people again.
I lost contact with three incredibly amazing friends when I went off Facebook. I assumed that they had “moved on”, and I am sure that it was safe for them to infer that since I live abroad, I had met new friends. Without talking about it, we all reckoned that the others had found new friends. To be completely transparent – I am deeply insecure about “not being important”, and I often think that “I don’t matter” to people. When people do nice things for me, I often assume that they are doing it because they are good people, and not because they think that highly of me. It’s hard for me to admit that, but it is true. In many ways, this has been something that first drew Justin and I very close together. We realised that we were so similar in this way! Even though we both saw an amazing light radiating from the other, it was astonishing to know that this person had grown up feeling the very same way that you had!
I have since reconnected with those friends, and realised that they are so much more like me that I ever noticed before. We have all grown up a lot, but when we talk, it’s like the last 10-15 years haven’t even passed. I now miss them all the time, and wish that I could take back those years that we didn’t talk. But I can’t. All that we can do is try to make up for those “wasted” years.
Call your old friends.
Write to them.
Ask how they are doing.
Don’t leave it to your final days to wish that you had told those that you love how much they mean to you.
“I wish that I had let myself be happier.”
This was a common one among folks who were on their death beds. Many people mail Justin and I and say that we “look so happy”, and “what a blessing that we have each other”. Yes, we are blessed to have found each other, but we don’t sit around waiting to feel happy. We go and find it. We fill our lives with things that we know are positive and fulfilling. Prayer, Adventure, Exercise, Church, Laughter, The Lord, Family & Friends, Travel, and anything else that would make our life well-rounded. We do our best not to get caught up in negative things. Often being around negative people can suck the energy right out of you – you leave a conversation with them feeling tired and annoyed. Often the best time we have is just alone. Being silly. Jumping. Laughing. Stop over-analysing!
People keep asking… How are you too so in love?
Well we don’t argue about silly things. We don’t put each other down. If one of us says something inappropriate, the other brings it up later (in private). These are not things we do “because we are married”, but because we love each other. We respect each other, and we want to make sure that we keep moving forward, not dwelling on insignificant details. We don’t question everything that we hear because some people will always have an answer for e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g – Just deal with it. The same goes for argumentative people, but Justin is better with those people, I tend to just look for the nearest exit.
Get out of your comfort-zone. Go for a walk, or a hike, go see something in your city. LET YOURSELF be happy!! Be silly – If you have kids, they will love this! Fear of change will leave you looking back on your life and wishing that you had done it all differently.
The Adventure of Life is to Learn.
The Purpose of Life is to Grow.
The Nature of Life is to Change.
The Challenge of Life is to Overcome.
The Essence of Life is to Care.
The Opportunity of Life is to Serve.
The Secret of life is to Dare.
The Spice of Life is to Befriend.
The Beauty of Life is to Give.