Someone posted an article on facebook about the top five regrets people had when dying. You can find the link HERE. It was compiled from people taking care of the elderly; and as they were dying they were given a survey, which seems odd now that I type it out. The list sounds legit, and even makes you rethink some decisions you are making. If you didn’t read the article, you obviously know what you want in life, and that is for me to sum it up for you. So here they are –
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
I understand all of these. Pretty straight forward list. What I wonder about though, is how much of your success and happiness comes from not doing these things? How many close friends do you have in your neighborhood that you refrain from certain topics or comments around, so you don’t offend them? How about work? Self censoring is what keeps most of us employed or even married. (If I said every Star Wars thought or analogy out-loud that popped into my little head I would be celibately single.)
What I think this article illuminates the most is the fact that as kids, we are just better people. If you have kids, you know that they see the world as black and white. It takes a lot of time and BS over the years to think that seeing the world as gray is normal and healthy. I would argue, with very few exceptions, that your closest friends, the ones you can pick up with right where you left off no matter the time that has passed, knew you when you were young and you wore your heart and emotions on your sleeve.
It’s an odd angle to view this at, but for some reason as we grow older we start to hide or distance ourselves from who we really are to please others. Which is ironic because you spent the first 18 years of your life dieing to get out on your own and be yourself or do the things you thought you couldn’t.
My take away from this article? Just like everything else in life your happiness comes from you and no one else. If your family is worth it, you don’t mind working hard. If you marry someone who loves you, you get to be the real you all the time. Unless you’re Rajesh from The Big Bang Theory you don’t need to worry about an arranged marriage, and can find someone that understands you. If you aren’t a complete douche bag people don’t mind hearing about your feelings. If your friends are true, they understand the gaps in your friendship and are there for the important stuff.
It seems to me that the only way to fall prey to these five regrets is to put forth an idea of you that isn’t true. To form relationships and habits that are not truly you. If you think that steak is the greatest thing ever to eat, but tell everyone that you love meatloaf the best just to fit in, you are going to get a lot of meatloaf dinners that you will have to choke down and grin while doing so. And you can’t stomach something that isn’t you very long without finally snapping or affecting those around you. (I realize that I should have used a religious or political example instead of meatloaf, but it was better than my Battlestar Galactica idea.)