On Life, On Death, On Regrets
My school friend passed away a couple of days ago. I've known this person since the age of 11. He died of a sudden heart attack. It happened out of the blue. No warning. No doctor saying you have three months to live, get your affairs in order. He was young. Far too young to die.
But, that's the thing about death - it's the one equaliser in life. It doesn't care if you're young, old, rich, poor, black, white or educated or not. We will all die one day. That's the one certainty in life. And that day could be today.
Steve Jobs said: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
There's nothing that focuses your mind more than asking every single day. "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?".
We live our lives as though we will live forever. "Tomorrow, I will do it tomorrow". We ignore the little voice of our inner authentic selves and suppress our dreams. Many of us work in jobs we hate to buy things we don't need to impress people we don't even like. Is that truly how you want to live your life?
An Australian nurse, Bronnie Ware, who spent several years caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives noted that the following 5 regrets were the ones which came up again and again.
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
How can you live more authentically and fulfil your dreams? Imagine your life is a blank slate. There's no expectations from others about what you should do or how you should do it. What would you choose?
2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
How can you bring more balance into your life and spend quality time with family and friends?
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
To live an authentic life you need to develop courage - courage to pursue your dreams and courage to speak your truth.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
My friend and I had been good friends in school. He was one of the kindest people I knew. We were not in touch for many years. I wish that we had stayed in touch, but sadly it's too late now.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
People who get to the end of their lives often realise that happiness is a choice. Make the choice to be happy today - bring more fun, laughter, playfulness and silliness into your life.
I wish for you that you start to live the life you truly want to live, so that when death comes, you will have no regrets.