Because thinking carefully about the things we are likely to regret can help re-calibrate and re-focus how we live.
You will regret all the times you said yes when you’d rather have said no.
You will feel sad that you changed yourself, mentally, physically, or emotionally, in order to fit into society or impress others, rather than stayed strong and remained who you truly are.
You’ll be annoyed you didn’t follow your own heart and, instead, followed in the footsteps and influence of other people.
This could be trying out that new job that excites you, though feels like a risk.
It could be asking out that person who has captured your interest, but who you are intimidated to talk to.
For many of these, though certainly not all, you’ll regret not having taken the chance, not having given it a shot.
You will then be left wondering, what if? What could have been? Why didn’t I do it? What was I so afraid of? Why did I play it so safe? What might I have missed out on?
This point relates to everything health-wise.
It’s always sticking to the same habits and routines.
It’s never daring. It’s always taking the easy, more comfortable way.
Staying in your bubble, though, is more like never trying to make new friends.
It’s staying in the same job for your entire life.
This can be anything. The book you talked about writing for years and never did. That you wanted to learn to play guitar and never put in the effort. That you kept thinking you’d spend more time with your kids or your beloved pet, and instead, put it off, and put it off.
You will regret all the things you wanted to do, the things you were passionate about, the goals you had, the things that made your interest ignite, and you never put time or effort toward them.
The world is always going to have a ton of problems. Sometimes it will look worse than at other times.
This is NOT to say we shouldn’t acknowledge and speak about these things. We should and we must. Otherwise, there is no hope of ever changing them.
Choose to (more of the time) focus on the positive aspects of life, what you can change about what you don’t like in the world (and then do it), and otherwise, what makes being alive so great.
When the end of your life comes, you will regret not having done this.
Think of the special, emotionally close, rare friends you’ve had during your life. These types of connections do not grow on trees.
Maybe you’ve had a handful, in which case, you are lucky. Some people have had none.
Friends are easy to find. Genuine, truly awesome friends with whom you have a deep connection? Those are harder.
Google “the benefits of friendship” to be reminded of why. Then, go hang out with a close friend of yours, with no cell phones in sight, and truly revel and engage in the connection fully. With that person, in-person. You will then know what I’m talking about.
Books offer us so many riches. An endless amount really. You can learn anything from books. How to speak a language, how to garden, baking or cooking, health science, dog training, engineering, new insights about friendship and romantic relationships, what living in another culture might be like, and what it might feel like to live as someone of a different gender, race, or sexuality from you.
The other purpose and gift of books? They can make you a better person, a healthier person, a kinder person, a wiser person.
Not every book will do this, necessarily, but a lot of them can and will.
Children play. Adults tend not to as much. We’re taught that play is “silly” and something to be shy about. Not so, though. Check out the work of Brene Brown. She speaks to this topic and how important it is for our mental well-being, our relationships, and our sense of creativity.
Play. It brings you closer to your social connections. It’s good for your mental health and creativity. It lowers your stress.
Later on, you’ll wish you had.
Granted, if you’re from America, you are up against a tough culture, work-wise. We have a hard time with work-life balance, plus some of the least vacation time of any developed country, as well as, zero paid maternity leave, and usually crappy allotted sick time as well. So, this is a difficult one.
Still, it is possible to push back on this, depending on your situation and means.
It’s likely worth trying to do so since working too much is one of the top regrets of the elderly. In fact, it’s #2 in Bronnie Ware’s bestselling book, The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying .
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