Regrets? I’ve Had A Few…

stonesI have a 90 year old friend, Tom, who’s in poor health. Yesterday, over a cup of tea, he took my hand and said, ‘Don’t end up like this. Don’t get to my age and have regrets. I know you’ve got MS, but get yourself out there.’

I asked him what he regretted, what did he wish he had done differently? He thought for a moment before saying he would have worked less, been happier and kept nothing  for ‘best’.

I went home deep in thought. On the internet, I found an excellent blog, Inspiration and Chai, written by a palliative nurse, Bronnie Ware, who cared for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. Her observations have been collated in a book, ‘The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.’

I expected to be depressed after reading them, but instead I felt motivated to keep on improving my life and learn from the wisdom of others who have gone before. The five most common regrets 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 hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I ‘d stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

The last point for me was the most interesting. Bronnie Ware writes that many people did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed in old patterns and habits and the fear of change had them pretending to others, and themselves, that they were happy.

I want to live a fulfilled life. I have enough regrets already, so maybe I should just choose to be happier. Chase the dreams, make mistakes and pick myself back up again. At least I can say I tried. Having MS  has brought clarity and a sharp focus to my life. So, thank you, Tom, for giving me a much-needed push in the right direction.

Tagged , , , ,

8 thoughts on “Regrets? I’ve Had A Few…

  1. julie says:

    I have a picture with those very words on it. I saw it on fb. These things sound great but we are so driven by our thoughts, and not how things actually are, that we make it difficult for ourselves.
    For me meditation makes all the difference. But I highly recommend you take a peek at some books written by an American Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron. Buddhist philosophy is ancient but Pema writes for Western readers and she shows how we can do this stuff, which is a pretty amazing way to live. ‘Our thoughts make our world’, it’s up to us how we view it.
    Also, look up, it is a collection of short essays that different people post regularly, they are not about religion, just inspirational stories about people and the methods they use to cope/change their lives.

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Hi Julie!
      Thank you so much for the further information- really helpful and I will be taking a good look.
      We really are driven by our thoughts – we create our own false reality and we hanker after how things should be, not how they actually are. I read once that most of our pain is derived through this – the unwillingness to change, to accept change and to realise that the world is constantly changing. The pain comes from us wanting it to stay the same. Deep thoughts!

  2. Great post! Am about to start a new job and am slightly panicked. I want to enjoy NOW and not be how I was before: stressed out and concerned about not doing well enough, with near-constant headaches and neckaches. This spell of unemployment has come with some anxiety (less money, of course), but being mindful about what’s truly important in life is something I must focus on.

    How wonderful that you have a friend like Tom…

    • stumbling in flats says:

      He’s been a brilliant ‘teacher’. He’s been there, done that and is more than happy to gently nudge me along the way, bless him.
      Hope your new job goes ok! I must admit, I’ve enjoyed my reduced hours. It has made me focus on what’s important really, even though my wages have dropped drastically!

  3. Hi,

    Happiness, couldn’t agree more.

    Since MS forced me to quit my job I started the website and I do talks about MS. Now I am so much happier. Not only happier but also much more content with myself.

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Sounds idyllic Patrick! You’re definitely a great example of someone who has chosen happiness rather than the same old treadmill. You’re very inspiring!

  4. Tony Cardis says:

    Couldn’t agree more, I retired after 33 years in the .Prison service, with all sorts of plans. One month later I get told I have PPMS
    I still intend to carry out my plans just at a slower pace 🙂

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Hi Tony,
      I’m liking your attitude! I think we’re all guilty of thinking we’ve got all the time in the world and I know I worry far, far too much about what other people think of me.
      Tom really made me think long and hard. I was recently asked to be on a panel at an MS and employment seminar. The old me would have said, absolutely no way. I’ll go as red as a tomato and stutter. But, guess what? I accepted the challenge. Watch this space…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *