For one wild, glad moment we snapped the chain that binds us to earth, and joining hands with the winds we felt ourselves divine.”
― Helen Keller, The Story of My Life
A hospice worker compiled a simple list of 5 common regrets most often mentioned by patients under her care when asked if they had any regrets or would do anything differently.
(Hospice Patients Alliance-Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware)
1. I would have had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. This was the most common regret. Once health compromises the abilty to fullfill dreams, it becomes clear how our choices did not support the pursuit of our dreams.
2. I did not work so hard. Most patients regretted creating a lifestyle that demanded a certain income and wished they had found ways to simplify their lives.
3. I had the courage to express my feelings. Often people surpress their true feelings in an effort to keep the peace-when in reality they create bitterness and resentment which eventually creates illness. Healthy relationships thrive with open communication. Unhealthy ones flounder and cannot be sustained. Everyone wins.
4. I had stayed in touch with friends. Everyone thinks of friends when facing death, and usually the important matters of finance and legal matters are almost secondary to the focus on relationships. In the final weeks it is love that matters.
5. I had let myself be happier. Surprisingly, most patients did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice-their choice. Fear of change left them a a rut, and the desire to let go and be silly got beaten back.
How fortunate for us that we can look over this list and decide today that we will follow Helen Keller’s example and join hands with the wind and feel ourselves divine. Write a note to an old friend-a forgotten sissy. Commit to healthy communication with honest expression of how you feel. Find a balance that allows growth in your personal, professional and spiritual life. Decide today to be happier-live like someone left the gate open-just for today.