Yesterday I met someone I have met only once in the last 25 years. We hung out with the same group of friends in college and shared many laughs and happy times together over a 4-year timespan.
The occasion yesterday was a sporting get together celebrating friendship and the good times in his life because he has a terminal diagnosis. My sister passed on nine years ago today with the same condition. The coincidence hit me in the face as a powerful reminder of how fragile life can be and how insignificant the stuff I, and most of us worry about are in the scheme of things.
There is a lot of stress and problems in the world today. And we all have our own challenges. Tony Robbins often says that the biggest problem we have is that we feel we shouldn’t have problems. Having problems means we are alive and is part of being human. We can allow these problems to consume our thoughts and lives or we can focus on what matters most in life to us.
My college friend was full of grace – telling us all to have a good life – and to make the best of things – which he is doing in spades. His message was infectious. His powerful sharing prompted a flurry of texts today between different members of our group with a lot of love and friendship shared. We even have another get together next month. I was deeply moved by his different conversations, messages and to see how he is making every moment count and living his message. So was everyone else.
I was reminded of a blog by Bronnie Ware, an Australian palliative care nurse who spent years looking after people in the last three months of their lives. When asked about their regrets and what they would do differently as they approached death, her viral blog shared five common themes.
The 5 Greatest Regrets of the Dying are (Bronnie Ware):
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 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
It is interesting to compare these wishes with what we (you and I) think about most of the time. It is so easy to put off spending time with people you care about because of other ‘to dos’, ‘shoulds’ or ‘have tos’. But Imagine you had a fixed timeline like my friend or someone else you know in the same boat, what might your regrets be? Close your eyes and sit and think for a moment.
If it changes your perspective, allow that to help you plan how you spend your time and energy. Are you being true to yourself in how you are living your life? Are you spending your time according to what matters most to you? Are you working too hard? Are you speaking your truth? Are there people you care about who you would like to connect with more? Family and Friends? Do you allow yourself to be happy each day or are you stressing yourself out by self-criticism or by focusing on what is not working in your life?
Such thinking puts everything in context. It is grounding and clarifying. If it inspires changes, make them. Call that person. Make the plan. Lighten up. Be kind to yourself and spend time doing what you love with people you love.