Friday, December 15, 2017

How to Live a Life with No Regrets

A while back I listened to a TED Talk that mentioned 5 regrets of the dying, and I have been obsessing about whether or not I am living a life I will not regret later ever since.

The five regrets are:

1. I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself and not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
3. I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish I had let myself be happier.

The scary thing is the stuff they mention on that takes place in the tiny decisions we make every day.

  • The decision to not do the girls' weekend because life is too busy right now.  
  • The decision not to tell the frenemy/family member that they hurt my feelings with their passive aggressive back handed compliments because I don't want to make waves.
  • The decision to stay at a job that is sucking the life out of me because it seems easier than finding something else. 
  • The decision to miss my kid's performance because I have to work late again, or on the flip side of that (now that I am a SAHM), chaperone a field trip.  (I would rather keep a root canal appointment than go on another field trip.)  
In short, every time I've said 'yes' when I wanted to say 'no.'  Every time I put what's urgent ahead of what's important.

Most of the time these tiny decisions are made without even thinking about it. These decisions start to snowball until I am so far removed and can't remember what makes me happy, so I trudge on day in and day out waiting for "some day" to arrive, all the while I trying to keep up with everything and everyone else. Whew! I'm exhausted just writing about it.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm overall a pretty happy person, despite being naturally inclined to lean a little toward the pessimistic side (I prefer the term "realist," thank you.)  I am tremendously grateful to have my life.  However, I can't help but I as fulfilled and as happy as I could be? I'm talking real, enduring happiness.  Not the kind you get when you buy a new pair of shoes, but the kind of deep-in-your bone or soul happiness that supports you when the circumstances of your life are not so happy.

My kids, my husband, my friends make me happy, yet I often find myself half listening while I'm cooking dinner or scrolling through FB.  I turn down coffee dates with friends because I "have to" do something else.

Getting lost in a project makes me happy, yet I never seem to have time to, and even just the thought of starting seems like so much work.

So I think the honest answer to "am I as fulfilled and happy as I could be?" would be "no." Call me greedy, but I want more, and sometimes I feel like I am not living up to my potential.  I could be happier and more fulfilled.

How do I take the life I have and love now, and make it even better?  How do I get rid of the noise, stress and chaos, and strip it all away until my life is really about the people I love, working on goals that excite me, and using my strengths and abilities toward a worthy purpose all while minimizing all the other crap?

So that's the new focus of the blog.  To figure out what makes for real happiness, and how to get it.  Everyone's happy will look a little different, but there are some basics that are the same for everyone. Research, both anecdotal and real, have consistently pointed to Relationships, Meaning (what makes you want to get out of bed in the morning), and having goals (or a purpose).  Where we differ is what those things look like for each of us.

For example, as an introvert big social gatherings are a drain on me, but my extroverted husband thrives on them.  Relationships and socializing are the same, what it looks like for each of us is different.

You know what else consistently comes up in the formula?  Making space for yourself to figure it out. So, there will also be information on how to make some room to think and plan and just be.

I'm going to research and experiment, and share what I learn in the hopes that it inspires all of us to find ways to put more happy in our lives because we deserve it.

And, if you do have an Eureka moment or found something that has worked for you, or even just need some encouragement, share with us, please! The more ideas, the more support, the more conversation the better for us all.  We all benefit from a collective wisdom that leads to more happiness and peace in our lives (and no regrets on our death bed).  Plus email and comments make me feel good (See? I just had the courage to express my feelings.)

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