Living Life with Less Regret
I was asked recently if I could be told how much time I had left, would I want to know. I had to think about this for a bit. My immediate answer was that yes, I would want to know. I would want to know if I only had ten days, two hundred and ten days, or many, many years… but then I asked myself… would it make a difference? If given a time frame, what would I do differently, how would I spend those ten days if that was all I would have left?
If I only had ten days left, I think I would just spend that time with my kids and my grandchildren. I would ask that we take lots of photos together for them to keep, and make memories filled with love and laughter that they would always remember me by.
I realize now though that I don’t want to know, I don’t want that timeclock looming over my head, I don’t want to count the time I have left down to the day, or minutes, and then anxiously wait for the moment the alarm goes off, and I am gone. I don’t want to live my life like that.
If you knew you only had a short time left, would that change the way you currently live your life? Would you suddenly reach out to the people you love? Would you make amends? Would you go more places or do more things? Would you scurry around quickly to say all the things you’ve held on to for far too long? What if instead, you lived your life like that every day, so that when your time does come… you have no regrets, and no feelings of sadness that you didn’t get to do or say the things you’ve always talked about?
We are all going to die, that is something we can be sure of. The “when” is the unknown, and something we do not have control over, therefore worrying about it, or focusing heavily on it, takes away from the joy and zest you could be feeling in your life currently.
I teach a class with this question in mind. My hope is that I inspire you to change the way you live your life now, to do and say the things, to take classes, or travel to places you have always dreamed of going, but more importantly… to live your life in such a way that when your time does come, you have little or no regrets and that should be the goal we all set for ourselves.
I spent most of my life wishing it was different. Wishing I had different parents, different experiences, and different relationships. I wished I had said or done things differently, I wished things were different, and I wished I was different. This was my life’s mantra. All of this became weight that was far too heavy for me to carry, and it certainly was not doing me any good. I realized (finally) that it was time to let go of things that no longer served me and stop allowing my past to dictate how I lived my life. It takes courage to own your shit, and change the way you live your life, and it takes work to change old patterns, but I can assure you that it is worth it.
“Dismantle your wounds so you stop living your life by them.” I love this quote.
I work in end-of-life care, which means I witness a lot of goodbyes, a lot of regret, a lot of things that haven’t been said and most of all, the reminder of how most of us take so much for granted, always assuming there will be more days, more time, more life.
I invite you to start living your life a little more fully. What I am proposing is that you find a way to let go of the negative thoughts… the should haves, the might haves, and the could haves… and find what brings you joy, embrace the blessings, and say the things now. Don’t beat yourself up for mistakes you might have made, try to move past them and imagine how it could be if you truly set intention to live a life well spent. I read this recently, “A well-lived life doesn't mean a life jam-packed with adventures and achievements. It means a life in which you take the time to appreciate everything you have.”
Let’s do more of that.