From this study, the dying most commonly expressed these top five regrets:
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
“Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
“This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.”
So how are you living your life? Here’s how I think of those five things:
5) I’m frequently happy, or at least content. A big part of this is appreciating what you have and not pining for shit you don’t. I have two awesome kids, a wife who’s hot and I get to sexup fairly frequently, a great home life, friends, a nice job and so forth. Why shouldn’t I be really happy most days? I try to enjoy bits of life each day and am often the first to laugh and have a wife and friends who are also light hearted. I don’t see this as an issue for me.
4) I am staying in touch with the friends I want to, and making new friends on a semi-regular basis. I have mechanisms in place (like geek-mechanism such as fantasy football and NCAA tournament traditions) that help with this. Other friends I see on a regular basis at our Crossfit gym, which is one benefit of that cult.. I mean gym class environment. I will always have a life outside of the family, which seems to be a common occurrence for many married men…dropping friends down to a drip. Need to keep up those manly friendships.
3) This blog is essentially an on-line diary that expresses many of my feelings and thoughts. I’ve never been one to withhold my feelings and in fact, am more forthcoming than I should be. I told Holly I loved her at about three or four weeks in. I express my disappointment and frustration with family and coworkers on a regular basis. I shoot it straight for better or worse.
2) This one I do regret, even now. I don’t really see any way around it. I like my job, my coworkers, my situation, but especially during the summers wish I was able to just do more things with my wife and kids and friends. When we are home, we’re scrambling on dinner and running to activities, but we do spend a lot of quality time doing swimming, ball in the backyard and hanging out. But I do wish I didn’t have to work so much. Third world white guy problems…
1) I’m trying, Ringo… trying real hard to be the Sheppard.
Since taking the Red Pill, being true to myself and what I think is right has been a lot easier. The I don’t Give a Fuck attitude is real and my wife will shake her head or say I’m acting “punchy” when I’m really just telling it like it is. I am trying to live my life without regrets at this stage, since my earlier life I’ve had way to many regrets and missed opportunities due to “being a nice guy” and doing what I thought others wanted. I’m stepping up the spine at work and establishing who I will be for the remainder of my career – a fair person, tells it straight, but if you don’t hold up your end of the donkey I will be sure you make it right without beating around the bush.
..and I usually find a way to do what I need or want to do. Biked 5,000 foot mountains, skydove multiple times, some mischief when I was passing through towns, made friends with random people at will, broke up with girlfriends with minor provocation, did what needed to be done. No regrets here. I don’t have many things on my “bucket list” (I hate that term, by the way, like I hate other words like “panties” and “moist”…just nails on a chalk board to me for some reason), but one is to through hike one of the major trails, most likely the Pacific Crest Trail, at some point in my life.
If you have buckets of time, and want to be entertained and enlightened, read about the PCT from one of my friends, Chuckie V (AKA Funnybone). Chuckie is a lost soul who I’ve known for years (though haven’t seen him for a long time), but has been true to himself from day one. It’s lead him through some triumphs (winning Ironman Canada, training at the OTC with Lance Armstrong as a up-and-comer) and heartbreak (divorce), but he’s never apologized for being who he is. He’s been an inspiration in this regard, though we’re cut from a different cloth. He’s through-hiked the PCT twice (image below from his first hike) and was embarking on an Appalachian Trail (AT) through-hike this spring before he fell off the map (again).
So be like Chuckie, live your life without regrets, live for yourself and be true to yourself. You’ll encounter hardship, you’ll lose friends, but you’ll always find the satisfaction that you did it a way that you could look yourself in the mirror at the end of the day. I’ve always liked the poem “Man in the Glass” and I’ll leave it for you today:
When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what that man has to say.
For it isn’t your father, or mother, or wife
Whose judgment upon you must pass
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.
He’s the fellow to please – never mind all the rest
For he’s with you, clear to the end
And you’ve passed your most difficult, dangerous test
If the man in the glass is your friend.
You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
And get pats on the back as you pass
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.