We have no control over when and how we will die. Reflecting on how we live today is a prelude to the death we all face inevitably. In our tradition it is encouraged to think about the Afterlife and our Prophet (may peace be upon him) advised that we visit the graves of others so we think about the life we inhabit. I thought of this when I picked up an article this weekend I read in February. In the article a nurse followed people in the last 12 weeks of their life and she concluded that there were 5 main regrets people confessed before they died. (Full article can be accessed here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/01/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying)
Living each moment fully is a powerful way to face death. It prepares you for it as much as reminds you that life is fragile. So if you are not living your fully now how do you know you will be given the chance tomorrow? The 5 regrets of the dying are not magic tricks. They are simple truths we should all apply in our life philosophy. I would love to hear which ones you want to live more passionately in the coming months!
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This is one of the most common issue people come to me for coaching. Really. People know that they are living their lives according to expectations and by the rules of others. Even Alpha males, who seem to have get it all right have gaps in their personal lives when it comes to their own truth. They choose a trophy wife only to realize later that what they actually need is a soulmate who can create the peaceful home where he can replenish his energies, away from his business. They run a multimillion pound business only to realize that money means nothing.
People live in a fantasy world. They hide behind power, money or beautiful women, while they overlook their heart’s desire. When I coach they unearth what it means for them to be themselves and it just brings them fully alive. When you stop lying to yourself, the universe opens up endless possibilities. This is when you start creating your own life and stop living other people’s ideas.
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
Yet another classic. You are not your work and if you are not, who are you without your job title? What drives you to work 17 hours a day? Is it passion to succeed so you can prove to your parents that you made the right career choice? Or are you escaping from home so you do not have to face an argument with your spouse?
Work is a major distraction for many people and so many times we choose this strategy while we avoid the real issues. When you pursue what your heart is calling for, you will inevitably succeed- be it business or personal matters. When you stop working you start connecting with yourself and you can either be your own best friend or your very own worst saboteur.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
We are all called human beings for a reason. Human have feelings and we are walking on two feet carrying feelings. Even when you do not think about it, you FEEEEL. Most of us ignore this obvious truth and hardly or never express them to the people who matter. When we feel, we release. When we articulate our feelings, we start finding clarity. When we express our feeings to others, we build connections and detroy invisible walls that stand between human beings.
If you were given only one chance, who would you talk to and what would you say to him/her about your feelings? (do not think about the outcome, just do it. You might be very surprised by the response you get…I promise you that the learning about how that person responds to your feelings will be immensely powerful and you would not get this learning from anywhere else! )
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Yes, it is amongst the main 5 regrets and we all so willingly ignore that we are beings in a structure. We cannot exist alone and we should not ever contemplate that seclusion is our natural habitat. A word of caution though- this refers to REAL friends. Not people who abuse your friendship, who just want to be with you at your best but refuse to be with you at your worst. Choose people who bring the best out of you and help you fly, not those who pull you down, clip your wings or plant doubts in you about yourself.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Many of my clients do not know how to be happy. They do not even know how to ask for happiness because they do not believe this is their right! Being happy is a birth right and we are sent to this earth to find ways to bring the best out of ourselves. Being miserable, giving up on ourselves or settling for less than what we deserve is surely not a stepping stone to being the best we can be. How can you let yourself happier? Start TODAY. Do 3 things that will make you happy. And carry on doing the same for weeks. Or months. Do it until you wholeheartedly accept that you have the right to be happy. If you do not make yourself happy, nobody else will.