It’s truly remarkable, how much we will suffer for a ‘happy future’. Miserable now, hating a job, friction filled relationships; we undertake as we tell ourselves a story that it will all be worth it in the end. What end? What end are we hoping for?
This is what I know to be true; it’s not worth it. If we suffer now for an imaginary future that may not come, we will create so much friction in the present that we may not firstly even get there, let alone enjoy it when we do as we are so accustomed to being miserable.
Arran and I have spent much time redefining our metrics of ‘success’ and it has shifted entirely what we view as a succesful life. We woke this morning at 4.45am to go walking to see the moon at it’s fullest at 5.05am setting over Pittwater, that had shone into our bedroom all evening, before walking to Palm Beach to watch the sunrise. It was glorious. Then we went to our local cafe Boathouse, chatted with the staff who we all know well, and then walked home. A quick shower and I drove into town, picked up delicious baked goods, and am penning this now before teaching a class of meditation students at our Paddington School, then returning to Palm Beach to teach students there at our studio. The engagement, enthusiasm and curiosity of these humans lights me up like crazy. That I get to share knowledge and techniques and stories and help people shift their lives – this for me now is success. It’s happiness and fulfilment everyday.
Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse who spent years in palliative care, helping people through the last 12 weeks of their lives interviewed, collated and created a book called The Top Five Regrets of The Dying.
I think they pack a punch and I wanted to share them with you…the first one brings me to tears.
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
“This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
“Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”
How are you going to craft your present? Will you have regrets when you too die? What do you want to ensure they don’t look like.