No matter where we stand with our age, at one point or the other, we have been struck with the question of what should we do next. We might have finally reached a new goal in our work life. Recently got done with a new set of studies. Our children might have left home. We might have gotten a divorce. It can just simply be that we are no longer sure of what we wish to do next.
Are you happy or just smiling?
During these crucial points of life, everything seems to be wobbly under our feet. When we no longer have a predetermined set of rules that we are supposed to follow. We tend to question if what we are doing is right. When we struggle to not find ourselves in our desired situation, the one that we wished, or the one that we had imagined for ourselves, we might start to wonder.
We wonder about what we should do now or how could we become happy. Many times, we are still not sure of what to do with the new open set of possibilities that we might have in front of us. Many people find it easier to follow sets of goals determined by somebody else. To follow what is right in front of them rather than daring to take the wheel. If you are one of those people who find comfort in not risking, let me ask you to please answer this question: Are you happy or do you only smile?
If you were to die tomorrow, would you die in peace knowing that you did the most with what you had? That you did the most for yourself? If you find that your answer is that you are indeed only smiling and the thought of death itself makes you second guess every life decision up until now, it might be time to take matters into your own hands.
The biggest regret
Nurses, doctors, caretakers, and psychologists have been interviewed many times on the biggest regrets humans tend to face when dying. Even when results may vary depending on the specific case, the most common ones seem to have been these five:
- 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.
As you can see all of them don’t really speak about material things or career goals, more so the opposite. They are all related to some of the most important non-physical human necessities. The necessity of love, and connection. While also slightly touching the necessities of appreciation and purpose.
These answers touch all sorts of love, including self-love. Loving oneself enough to choose to live by our own standards and not by what others expect of us. Connection to others and of course oneself in terms of how we feel and what we do with our time, how we connect with those around us and how we even connect with our feelings.
The time is now
If you feel like you could correlate with any of the previous regrets, it is imperative that you start making changes. Not to be fatalist here but we are all dying. We don’t know how close or far death might be for us but we are all dying. From the moment we are born.
And nobody really knows how much time they have left. We tend to forget about making the most of our lives believing that somehow they will last forever. That somehow we will always have the time to do what we wish to do another day.
If you find this article difficult to read, if it is something that makes you uncomfortable, I suggest you dig deep into that discomfort. Try to search for the root of what might be causing such a strong reaction to a fact as real the ephemerality of the human condition. If you find yourself upset upon realizing that you have not been following your heart enough, I also suggest that you go one step further. Practice the death bed test.
The Death Bed Test
The death bed test makes you put yourself in the position of what would you regret right now if you were to die tomorrow. What would be those things that you could not forgive yourself for not having done? Is it spending more time with your children or family? Is it traveling? Is it loving yourself more? Is it making an impact? Dig deep on all of it and make sure you start changing things. So on that day in which you will have to face the real test, which we hope is many, many, many years from now, you will go peacefully and without regrets.
So yes, we are telling you to start LIVING, not in autopilot but in capital letters. Make sure to live, to love, to impact, to reach your goals, to be happy. Do it all because yes, you can have it all. No matter what you were told, you can succeed greatly and you can do it in a balanced way. You do not have to give up things you can find your own way. So do not forget to live with purpose.