So I saw this article posted on Facebook and was skimming through it half-heartedly when I realized it was really interesting and inspiring. Basically, a nurse in Australia who works in hospice care (I really don't know how people do that job, but I suppose they say that about mine too), starting asking her dying patients about their regrets. Somehow she put all of these regrets together and and came up with a "Top 5" list. Probably not as funny or witty as Jay Leno's "Top 5 Lists." You can click on the link to read more. So, the thought got me thinking and I decided to rate myself on how I'm dying on each life value.
#1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
So this one is hard to rate. My initial reaction was that I would score a 5 out of 5 on this value. I have done a lot of things I wanted to do in my life so far. I've learned Spanish fluently. I've traveled to six countries (not counting Canada!). I've pursued a career that I wanted and love what I do. In fact, my profession is a major part of who I am. And I am married to someone who makes me better each day.
But that is just a list of life accomplishments. Does that have anything to do with "living a life that is true to myself?" So, let's see....am I living a life that is based on anyone else's expectations of me? I know I'm not living the life my parents expected of me, because I can honestly say they didn't have any expectations for me. Ha. I mean that in a good way. They have never put any pressure on me to do a certain thing or be a certain way. In fact, I think they think I'm crazy for going to school so long or working so long.
I would say that the only person I may be adjusting parts of my life for would be my husband. There are things I have sacrificed for him in order to maintain my relationship with him and place it first in my life. But really, isn't that the point of a marriage? And truth be told, he's sacrificed a lot more for me.
Sooooo what about on a deeper level? Am I being a person true to who I really am? Oh jeez, that just sounds too sappy and too much like high school soul searching. But, I think the answer is - yes. Each day I don't spend too much time being fearful, or doubting, or questioning myself. Basically, it feels good.
#2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
Hmmm. Good question. Especially this week. Especially after today, a 12 hour day filled with listening to stories of trauma and loss. I work really, really hard. And so does my husband. In fact, sometimes I worry a lot about this. What kind of life is it to get home at 8:30 at night? And how can I be a mom when I work this hard?
But we do a good job finding a balance. I have 3 days off a week, we take fabulous vacations, and we do a great job with "mini-vacations" on a weekly basis (massages, dinners, day trips).
Also, I'm not planning on working this hard my whole life. I plan on working part-time after I have kids and then eventually moving to somewhere in the country where I can have land, horses, and a quieter lifestyle.
So. Right now? Not so great, but it is an ends to a means. Neither of us grew up with any financial security and so right now we're building that. For us and for our family. I'm ok with that. I just can't/don't want to maintain it.
Side note...according to the article, this regret was mostly expressed by males. I wonder if this is a generational thing or if I am just not very womanly? ;)
#3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
This is vague. To who? In what situation? About what?
I would hope, given my job, that I'm pretty good at this. I don't have any deep-seated feelings or regrets that I haven't told anyone. I am open with my friends and family and share what I need or feel. But I also acknowledge that this is easier for me given that I am lucky to not have any deep-seated familial issues or any such thing.
The only thing I can think about here is that sometimes at work I can be too accommodating and take on too much work. Basically, I have a hard time saying no to my supervisors. So, if that is "expressing feelings, then yeah...I need to work on that.
#4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Ok this, I am TERRIBLE at. I don't know how to stay in touch with people and I am not one of those people who just picks up the phone to "catch up." I am also TERRIBLE at using the postal service (I got this from my mom) and so I'm not good at sending cards, gifts or care packages. *sigh* So yes, I've probably lost touch with people that I wish I hadn't. For example, the only friend I still have from high school happens to currently live in the same town as me.
But I'm also working on this. When I recently switched jobs, I knew that I was running the risk of losing all of the friends I had made there (thereby losing most of all friends, period). So I made an effort to maintain the friendships. With my busy life (see #2), this literally means sometimes planning things weeks in advance and putting it in my iCalendar, but hey, I'm trying!
You know, one of the reasons I think that I'm so bad at this is because my husband truly is my best friend. Some times I think I would just be perfectly content with just the two of us. But then I remember what girlfriends are for. Thank god for my sister and my best friend.
#5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Isn't that an interesting wording? "LET myself be happier." Such a healthy and brilliant way to describe it. As if happiness is something we are preventing ourselves from experiencing.
I think that is true, but only to a degree. There are life events or contextual variables that definitely but a damper on allowing yourself to feel happy. In fact, there are some situations that, if you were feeling happy, I'd find myself reaching for the DSM.
That being said, I would say I've gotten much better at this as I've grown older. Even in the last six months, I have been working on this. For me, it's been about mindfulness. Being mindful and appreciative of each moment. Instead of stressing over tomorrow, I'm trying to appreciate this moment. As in, right now...sitting by the fireplace, writing this blog, sipping some wine and just enjoying the fact that my feet are nice and warm. Seriously.
But this, to me, seems to be a lifelong journey. Good luck to us all. Let us allow the happiness in.
Wow, so that felt like a post all about me (although aren't they all?). I'm not sure anything really cares to know that much about my inner thoughts and goals. So, please share....how do YOU rate? On a scale of 1-5, how would you rate yourself?