You know those moments when you have a day off and start thinking for a change, and suddenly your mind wanders and hits the subject of death? (Personally I would like to be struck by lightning, it is fast and sounds pretty cool. But statistically, I will probably die from a heartattack.) Such a fun thing to think about right? No? Change of subject perhaps?! Sorry, not this time.
To die or not to die, there is no question, there is only a fact… it will happen. And it is not so bad, because realising there is an end makes you want live life to its fullest. Whatever the cause of my death might be, I don’t want to die untill I have had a full life. (So lighting, please wait kindly until I am like 94 years old or something.) When I die I want to look back with a smile and without any regrets.
That brings quite the question though: if I want to prevent having regrets: ‘What are things which I will actually regret?’
A nurse in Australia had quite an amazing idea, when she heard numerous patients talk about regret in their final days. She started noting what they said. Apparently, in the end (I should not have chosen this way of pfrasing it, but I could not help myself) the five most stated things people would regret were:
1. I wish I had the courage to live my own life and not to live the life people expected of me.
2. I wish I wouldn’t have worked so hard and had spent more time with my family.
3. I wish I had the courage to express my real feelings.
4. I wish I had spent more time with friends and had savored my friendships more.
5. I wish I had let myself be happy.
Summarizing I would say most regrets are concerning not caring enough about your own emotions, relations, and self-management. And I am betting you are already experiencing one, two, or more of all these regrets… I know I have.
Honestly, I really want to look at all points and see how I can improve them for myself. Most of all I want to promise myself that I will be more aware of these five points. You can also do this for yourself: promise you will do it, state what is already going better than before, and state how you want to keep improving.
This is what it looks like for me:
1. I will have the courage to live my own life and not live the life people expect of me.
In my case: if I want to ask the homeless person laying on the stairs if he is okay, and my lover thinks it is not the wisest decision I will still do it next time. It eats at me on the inside when I don’t.
2. I will spend more time with my family and I will not work so hard, that I will neglect it.
For the time being I will try to call them more. With this I mean every week, I will do it on mondaynights, around 6 o’clock. Psychologically it helps when you put an actual location and time on a plan, otherwise you will not always follow through.
3. I will always try to express my real feelings.
My dad left my mom and moved to a different country, it always in a way felt like he left me as well. He married without inviting me or my siblings. He told us after the matter, saying it would have been to expensive to fly us in and it was a more practical marriage. It made me feel as if he did not want me to be there, part of his new life. Furthermore he is not really good at staying in touch and neither am I. When we speak it is always nice though, we tell each other what we are doing, talk about funny things that happened, and so it never felt like the right time to tell him over Skype. Until last week, I am currently visiting my dad, and I finally had a moment alone with him in the car. This is when I told him how his actions had made me feel. He told me he never thought these actions would hurt me and he might have done it differently if he had known. He told me that he is proud of me, that he loves me and he would want to be friends, even if I wasn’t his kid, because he thinks I am that awesome of a person. It was scary to talk to him about it. I am glad I did, not only because of the things he said, but because I let him know how I felt about it.
4. I will spent time with friends and I will savor my friendships more.
I will celebrate my birthday with as many friends as possible. Also I would like to call them more often, I will take two hours a week to do that. Those moments that I am actually seeing them, I will tell them that I appreciate them.
5. I will let myself be happy.
I have to try to appreciate what I do have. To actually acomplish this however, is a lot harder. What I try to do now sometimes is going for a walk, alone. I sit down somewhere, and write down what I am gratefull for. There is always something, it could be you got a nice snack, wearing a nice outfit, receiving a compliment, or just breathing (listen to Nina Simone’s song Ain’t got no/ I got life)!
And I will laugh at my own damned jokes, I totally think they are funny (at least funnyish).