We all live our lives in the best way we know. Everyone wants to be happy. Inside, each of us has a vision of what makes up a “good life” and we hopefully have some concept of what it takes to live it. How we actually live may be a far cry from what makes us happy. Look at those who work incredible hours each day to save and build a nest egg that they believe they need to be happy, safe, and satisfied. No time for their family, no time for their other interests, no time for themselves. Are they happy? What about the neighbor who always seems to be angry, complaining about every little thing and generally a thorn in the side of everyone else on the block. Living a happy life – I would not think so. And on the corner, in the BIG house, with the fancy cars and designer dogs, rarely stooping to the level of others in the area, alone except for his money and things, is Mr. Rich a happy camper?
Sometimes it turns out that our chosen life path is not really the best road to travel. And when we get to the end of our journey, when it is time to say goodbye, will we have regrets?
In “Regrets of the Dying” , Papa Rich Wee shares some thoughts he has gathered while dealing with patients who have gone home to die, those in the last three to twelve weeks of their lives. A wonderful and eye-opening article, he questions them to see if they have regrets and if there is anything they would do differently in their life. Here are the five main points he shares:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Pretty powerful. Like they always say, no one complains of having spent too little time at the office. No one is complaining of not having enough stuff.
We visited the idea of doing what you want to do, what is true to yourself, regardless of what others think you should be doing, but it is good to emphasize since not doing this was the number one regret expressed above. If during your lifetime you work at something that you are passionate about, that you love to do, then you are being true to yourself. If you are stuck in a bad situation with no other options because you need the money, you cannot hope to live a life true to yourself. I know that in a down economy, the choices are slim. But when things get back on track, why not take a look at other options more in line with what you would like to be doing. Follow your inspiration to live a more complete and satisfying life. You owe it to yourself.
Listen, are you breathing just a little and calling it a life? ~ Mary Oliver
I took a moment to think back on my life to contemplate any regrets and see what I might have done differently. Rather than simply run chronologically through Dave’s Days, I thought of questions I could ask that would better frame my experiences and actions to identify now what I might regret later. Asking the hard questions, the right questions to get to the true answers:
1. Have I along my life’s journey intentionally hurt anyone?
2. Have I sacrificed my family and their happiness in pursuit of material things?
3. Have I ignored cries of help from people along the way?
4. Have I been more focused on myself than on those around me?
5. Have I neglected friendships?
6. Have I done the bare minimum in a situation where more effort would have yielded better results?
7. Have I neglected to tell those I love that I love them, repeatedly, on every possible occasion?
I invite you to ask yourself these questions and take the time to really dig for the answers. If you gain a deeper insight into your life and the person you are today, so much the better. At the very least, you may be able to identify areas where you would like to make changes in your life. Today you have time to make those changes. So when it is all said and done, your regrets are few and your satisfaction at having lived a good life is your legacy.
Don’t forget to pick up a free copy of my Navigating the Retirement Jungle, available upon request by mailing to firstname.lastname@example.org.