How To Be Happy – At Any Age!
“Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention.”
Frank Sinatra sang it in My Way but how many of us can say the same? My biggest regret is the time I’ve spent worrying and being anxious -especially about the small stuff in life! Literally it makes me sick and gets me nowhere.
The UK Guardian* published an article about an Australian palliative care nurse, Bronnie Ware who wrote a blog, and eventually a book, on the top five regrets of the dying. The message hit home – big time!
In this youth obsessed culture, we do not respect or even want to see our elders. They are a reminder that no matter how many creams, potions, and diets we use, we are all headed down the same inevitable path. Morbid? No. I think of it more as being extremely shortsighted. Because who is better able to tell us – more accurately and with more insight and experience – what REALLY matters in life than those who are facing the end of it?
Counting down, here are the top 5 regrets outlined by Ware’s book and some lessons they can teach about how we can all lead happy lives, no matter our age.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Happiness is a choice. We lose sight of that when we get bogged down in the minutiae of living day to day. Ask yourself “Am I happy?” and if not, “why not?” Simple yet not necessarily easy because the answer may not be something you want to hear.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Make time for coffee, send an email or a card to that girlfriend who lives across the ocean. These are the people who choose to love you not out of some sense of familial obligation but because they truly want to be around you, to listen to you, and share in your life.Study after study has shown that people with more friends, particularly in old age, live longer. Don’t let these relationships drift away due to distance or apathy.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
How many times have you bottled up what you were feeling in order to keep the peace? Bottling up your true feelings is not only stressful, but manifests itself physically. Sore backs, neck aches, ulcers… Men are taught not to show sadness in order not to appear weak, women are taught not to show anger, to remain demure and feminine – it is an epidemic in our society. As I say: to be a “Babe In Total Control of Herself” you need to be able to “party with your inner B.I.T.C.H.”
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
This one isn’t just for men anymore. If you are a “woman who runs it” then you know what it is like to need a least an extra two hours in a day. Find time for pleasure. Put your smartphone away while you have dinner with your family. Yes, many of us love our jobs, but a truly healthy life is one that is well-rounded and leaves time for rest, relaxation, and pleasure as well as professional accomplishment.
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
How many of us are in floundering relationships, or jobs that we hate, because we were afraid to make a radical change and pursue what we truly want? So many expectations are piled on women, from our children, our spouses, our bosses, and society that it can be almost impossible to hear that tiny voice whispering to you that there could be something more, something better. Always make time to listen for that voice. Clear your head, meditate, sit quietly in a cafe, and listen. Would your life choices be ones that your 90 year old self would condone? If not, time to rethink.
Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying
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