As the title of the best-selling book, “The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying”, suggests those that are faced with death often find themselves reflecting on their lives and having regrets about how they used the time they were allotted in life. According to this book, the Top Five Regrets are: I wish I hadn’t worked so much; I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends; I wish I had let myself be happier; I wish I’d had the courage to express my true self; and, I wish I’d lived a life true to my dreams instead of doing what others expected of me.
As I read through these regrets, I cannot help but to feel a bit of sadness for the people that look back on their lives and feel regretful about how they have lived. I feel sad for them that they regret pursuing things other than that which they have truly loved. Yet, I understand. So naturally, these feelings of sadness and understanding compel me to reflect upon my own life, and how I choose to invest the precious time and energy that I have in this lifetime. And as I do, I too must say that I feel inspired to change how I live on a day-to-day basis, particularly when it comes to the pursuit of happiness, authenticity, and the people that I most love and enjoy.
So, with this philosophy and the scientific data that supports it in mind, we are able to see that love, authenticity, passion, enjoyment, and play are far more than just frivolous bouts of leisure or indulgence. Rather, they are integral to truly living “the good life”, no matter how we personally define that term. For it is these feelings that help us to avoid such regrets as “working too much” or “not being happy enough”. It is these sensations and the experiences that evoke them that foster and cultivate true happiness as we live our lives. Because when we pursue these feelings and experiences, we allow ourselves to live in the present moment, and beyond, as we become more and more in touch with our truest nature and what it really is that we wish to do with our time, energy and resources.
And so, as you read this, I encourage you to reflect on your own life, how you spend your own time, energy, and resources and notice what feeling arise. Where do you feel a sense of regret, guilt, or heaviness? And more importantly, where do you feel a sense of love, joy, inspiration, authenticity? If they do not already, let these latter feelings guide you, and I promise you that the rest of your life will either stay perfectly in place or unfold just as it should as you learn to let go, let be, and embrace that which you want more of.
Ellie Holbrook, MA, LPCC, RYT500