When death draws near, what will I regret?
A bull or bronc rider, a rancher working on the range, a fighter pilot, all these dreams and more I had as a child. Heading into my 40th birthday next year, I realize that each of these dreams will remain but dreams for me. It is a little bittersweet knowing that the days of my youth are behind me, and some opportunities have passed me by.
I could choose to dwell on those opportunities that I missed, or choose to be thankful for what I have today, and for what could be. I choose to be thankful today for what I have, and dream new dreams for tomorrow. A wise and beautiful woman at my side, 5 loving children, steady jobs, it's hard to complain about where I am today. Would I be where I am if I had pursued the other opportunities?
No, that was a rhetorical question! I wouldn't be where I am if I had pursued all the other opportunities that came my way. Would I be in a better place? Maybe. Maybe not. Those opportunities are gone, but I'm still relatively young and can still dream of things that may be even better than my original plans. The difference is that I plan on aggressively going after those dreams whenever they make sense from here on out.
Here's an awesome video that a friend recently shared with me. A few minutes of your time is all it takes to watch, and it may change your life.
So what are the most common regrets? When a hospice nurse asked those who were dying what regrets they had, the following 5 things came up over and over again. I'm determined to avoid these regrets, how about you?
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
“This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.”
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
“Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
”This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”