In my new novel, PIZZA & PROMISES, which is now in the publication process, one of the leading characters makes this statement: "I don't think it's actually death that we fear. It's the process of dying that we dread."
That process often includes deathbed regrets that are stressful to the individual as well as to their family. In a recent survey, the five most common deathbed regrets were discussed. My goal is to avoid every one of them. Are you with me?
1) The number one regret on the survey was this one: "I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me." That's a big one. Too many people allow the pressures of life to rob them of their dreams. While you're still healthy, make the choice to honor those aspirations that live inside you. Do something about them and live a fulfilled life.
2) "I wish I hadn't worked so hard." Parents regret missing too much of their children's early years and of their spouse's company. In previous generations when women were at home, this regret was not so prevalent. In our modern society, it is. Choosing to simplify one's lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way to put quality time with your family ahead of the balance in your checkbook yields amazing relational dividends that are far more valuable than that extra car or vacation.
3) "I wish I’d been more open with those I care about." Too many people mask their true feelings under a phony veneer, pretending all is well when it's not. Others refuse to speak straightforwardly for fear of what other people may think. Choosing to take on a chameleon type existence robs us of valuable relationships and satisfying experiences. Be yourself without apology and you won't regret it later.
4) "I wish I had stayed in closer touch with my family and friends." How tragic to realize the value of relationship when it's too late to do something about it! Don't get so caught up in the details of life that you forget to call your Mom, or your best friend on a regular basis. Many a dying person has deeply regretted not giving friendshps the time and energy that would have enriched their lives and that of others. Keep in mind: People are more important than things!
5) This last one was surprisingly common. "I wish I had let myself be happier." Too late some people realize that happiness is a choice, like gratitude is a choice. Nobody has to be miserable; we choose to be miserable. Attitude is key to a full and vibrant life. Being grateful for our blessings releases joy within. Worry, anxiety, fear and guilt steal that joy and depress not only our emotions but our body as well. Choose joy, choose gratitude. You won't regret it later.