What can we learn about happiness from the dying? Sounds a bit morbid, but people on their death bed can share vital lessons with the rest of us, and I think we would be foolish not to listen. I know that I don’t want to get to the end of my life and look back with regrets – do you?
Often, when we read inspirational stories, or books on self-development, it seems that the people involved have somehow hit rock bottom, or had something happen to them that they need to recover from. Maybe they’ve been in a destructive relationship, lived through a traumatic childhood or suffered with a life threatening Illness. These are the kind of things that can make people take a serious look at their lives and whether they are living them to their fullest potential. People in situations like these often look for external help or guidance as they feel vulnerable or overwhelmed on their own. Thankfully, there are many people that are qualified to share their advice and experience and help them on the road to recovery.
I have found that there is less help available that speaks to those of us who have not been through these difficult or traumatic times, and who don’t feel hopeless or unable to cope. In many ways our lives probably seem fine, and we may be in loving relationships with good jobs and nice homes with enough money to enjoy a few of the finer things in life. In a way, we may feel like we shouldn’t be asking for any more out of life; that we should be happy and fulfilled with what we have (after all, many people would love to have what we have). We often feel there is something more out there, that we may not be living our ‘true purpose’ or reaching our full potential. We worry that we will get to the end and be filled with regrets.
This is exactly where I was 2 years ago. I almost felt guilty for not quite being satisfied as I had a perfectly lovely, enjoyable, ordinary life. The trouble is, I want it to be extraordinary! I don’t mean that I want to make millions, or climb Mount Everest, or become famous; I just mean I want to get more out of my life. Then I came across something that changed everything.
I’m in a book club. There’s nine of us altogether and each month one of us is responsible for choosing the book and hosting the evening. We’re all good friends, but that doesn’t stop us from quietly competing to be the one to choose the most provocative, awe-inspiring, mind-blowing book that all other books are compared to. At the moment, that position is held by ‘The Help’ by Kathryn Stockett (which I didn’t choose by the way). Ever since this book, I have been determined to find the book of all books to stop the girls in their tracks, and in my search for this extraordinary piece of fiction, I came across something I wouldn’t normally have picked up. It was a non-fiction book called, ‘The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departed’ by Bronnie Ware.
These five regrets began to haunt me and got me thinking about what I would regret on my death bed. From here, I made a promise to myself that I would do whatever it took to be able to look back and say, ‘I have no regrets’.
Over my coming blog posts, I will talk about each of these five regrets and the many things I have tried and tested as a way to avoid them. If you can relate to any of these, please follow me to find real, practical ways to avoid them.
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
- I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
- I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
- I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Imagine you are on your death bed. Really ask yourself what regrets you would have about your life, and use this is a starting point for making changes.