Recently I came across an article written by a woman who worked with patients who were in hospice care. The article, Top Five Regrets of the Dying, outlined the summary of the patient’s response to her question about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently. There were “common themes that surfaced again and again.”Here is her list: 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 didn’t work so hard. 3. I wish I’d 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.
Take a look at that list. If you were given just months to live, how many of those would be on your regrets list? My recent wake-up call with a thyroid cancer diagnosis brought this list up close and personal – too close for comfort actually.
However, as I examined the list, thinking about each of these regrets as they relate to my life, I had a revelation. I realized that if a person lived a life that was true to whom God had created them to be, none of the other regrets would exist. In other words, the number one regret was at the top of the list for a reason. It is really the key to a no regrets life. If a person can truly resolve the number one regret, all the other regrets have the potential for being eliminated. How’s that for a statement?
Let’s think about it. Having the courage to live a life true to oneself is predicated upon knowing one’s true self. It is my contention, as a Christian, that we cannot know our true self unless we have a relationship with the living God who created us. The axiom “to thine own self be true” is therefore contingent upon seeing ourselves as God sees us. Discovering the true person God has created us to be and living in accordance with it, is therefore the most important thing any of us can do.
Now, when a person lives true to themselves they will seldom if ever regret working so hard (Regret #2) because the life work they choose to do will be the work they love. There is nothing more satisfying than working at something we were created to do. The time flies, we feel fulfilled and invariably others are benefited.
The security that comes in being true to oneself also enables a person to be honest in expressing their true feelings. (Regret #3) They are not intimidated by what others might think and more confidently resolve relational conflicts. They are comfortable just being themselves.
Busy lifestyles, out of alignment with our true selves, take a heavy toll on relationships. (Regret #4) The value and nurture of friendships in our lives are too often sacrificed on the altar of the pursuit of career, status and money. Having the courage to live a life true to oneself enables us to put right priorities on our relationships and not let them slip.
And finally, letting ourselves be happier (Regret #5) will naturally be resolved if the first four regrets are eliminated. True happiness, fulfillment and meaning, all come most readily when we are living true to whom God has created us to be.
The reasoning above sounds a bit simplistic but when it gets right down to it, would you agree that being able to live a life that is true to whom God has created you to be could resolve all the other regrets? I’d be interested to know what you think.
Click Here for an Email Subscription to the Blog.