What other people think of me is none of my business. Physicist Richard Feynman
Replace fear of the unknown with curiosity. Richard Feynman
We’ve all seen and heard about living with no regrets. Personally, I don’t see how that’s possible. But I do think there is a way to minimize our regrets about the lives we’ve led.
Bronnie Ware is an Australian singer/songwriter, palliative care nurse and author. Her book, The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying, recalls her time as a hospice nurse spending her days comforting and accompanying those who were on their way out. I always find this relationship between terminal patient and caregiver informative. I’ve been through death with both of my parents and talked about some of their regrets along the way.
Nurse Ware lists the top 5 she’s encountered along the way:
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’d stayed in touch with my friends.
5) I wish that I’d let myself be happier.
I wish I’d been more authentically me. I wish I’d taken time for myself and my relationships. I wish I had stood up for myself, even when it was uncomfortable. I wish I’d let myself be happy. After all, everything I do, have or be is because I think that the doing, having or being of it will make me feel better, i.e., happier.
I don’t want to live a life so worried about others’ thoughts, my self-imposed duties and obligations and pleasing others that I neglect the one person with whom I have to live 24/7. How can I change my life over the next few days in some slight way that will minimize regret? What’s the one thing I could do to slightly shift the course of my life for the better?
Look forward, not back. The human situation is one of constant compensation. An action is one direction spurs action in another. Accept that while I will make mistakes, I don’t have to stay there. Find the things that bring me joy and follow them. Just the act of moving in the direction of my desires will help me leave behind the concerns. Pollyanna had a series of joyful experiences and, despite the criticism, managed to lead a joyful life!