I have been doing a lot of work in the last week or so promoting my book ‘Your Future’ which was written in collaboration with Jane Stephenson, and I had decided to take time away from that and write about something totally different. However, call it coincidence, good timing or even the power of the mind but someone brought to my attention an article which fits in really well with our book, the purpose of which is to inspire people to put the direction and focus back into their life so that they don’t have the type of regrets that are highlighted in this article.
The article is entitled ‘The top 5 regrets people make on their death beds ’! At first I thought how depressing, there is no way I am going to waste my time on such a sunny day reading this! However, as usual, curiosity got the better of me and I found myself clicking on the link. If you have time, I suggest you do the same but if not I have pulled out what I believe to be the key points.
The article is basically about the top 5 regrets that people said from their death bed as collected by a woman who worked with the dying – and yes, it is sad but it is also poignant and there are lessons to be learned. Here is my take on the top 5:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
Many of us are guilty of this i.e. not living our own dreams but living our lives the way we believe others expect us to. Maybe it’s a cultural thing or maybe it’s just wanting to please other people all the time. Is that really how you want to live your life? Be yourself, live your own life and so what if you make mistakes along the way – it’s the best way to learn!
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
Hands up all of you who are guilty of this? And yes, I had both hands up! There are times when I am very guilty of this and then I take a reality check. You need to make choices in life and that includes how much time you spend working and how much you spend with family and friends. Take time to see what is really important to you and re-arrange your life so that you spend more time in the important areas of your life.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Why do we bottle things up instead of saying what we think? Is it because we are scared of upsetting others? I think it varies from person to person but the thing is that by choosing your words carefully, you should be able to say what you think and express your feelings without really upsetting others. It is important to be yourself and speak your mind rather than bottling things up as this only makes mountains out of mole hills! I’m sure that a lot of us can name a time when we wished we’d said something nice to a family member or friend. – next time, just say it instead of wasting time wishing that you had.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Having moved 5 years ago from Scotland, where I had spent my whole life, to Holland, where I am surrounded by new friends who tend to come and go every few years due to the expat way of life, this is one thing I do not want to do. I’m not saying that it is easy to stay in touch as we all get so involved in our daily lives that life sometimes seems to pass us by in a blur. However, it goes back to you taking a close look at your life and deciding what your own priorities are. What is important to me is that my friends all over the world know that I am thinking about them. They know that I am not the best at picking up the phone or writing them an email on a regular basis but every so often it does happen and it is so nice to let them hear all my stories and for them to tell me theirs. And when we do meet up after months, it’s as if I’d just seen them the previous week.
I definitely have to agree with the comments in the article. Social media is a great tool and Facebook in particular is good at letting people know you are still in the land of the living but nothing beats talking even if it has to be over the phone or via Skype when you can’t actually meet up.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
This one amazes me. It is so sad. Why are so many people either so concerned about what others think or so wrapped up in the details of what is going on in their life that they forget to realize just how lucky they are. No matter how bad things may seem at any given moment in time, there will still be things in your life that will make you smile, sometimes you may have to look hard for them but believe me they are there. You know that it takes considerably fewer muscles to smile than to frown and just try not feeling happy when you are smiling!
I am not saying that life is always a bed of roses and sometimes things happen that are out with your control that you genuinely can do very little about. But you can control how you react to these circumstances so why look back and have regrets about things that you could have done something about. Take action while you can and if something doesn’t work out, at least you can say that you tried!