Are you constantly scheduled and busy? Working, cleaning, paying bills and all the other day to day living that you do just to survive? Could you be missing out on the life you were planning on living or that you were meant to be living? Take a moment and think about how important that clean house would be if you only had a very limited amount of time left to live. Would you do things differently? Would you look back at today with regrets on what were your priorities?
Hospice patients are offering a gift of awareness to those of us not living in the present. People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. They identify what truly mattered to them and who made a difference in their lives. They experience a variety of emotions and that ultimately brings them to acceptance and peace. It is these moments that spotlight the common themes facing Hospice patients when are asked about what they would do differently and if they had any regrets. Here are a few:
The most common regret for all patients is that they wish that they had the courage to live a life true to themselves instead of a life that others expected of them. It is then that they realize a large portion of their dreams went unfulfilled due to the other choices they felt were a priority at the time. It is so important to honor at least some of your dreams while you are healthy and able to do so. Health brings a freedom that few of us realize until it is too late. You have one life to live and none of us know exactly how much time we have left to live it. This life was given to you, to choose and to decide how you want to live it. Do not let others take that choice from you and to dictate their wishes. They too were given a life to live, pass that burden of expectation back to them.
Historically, the most common regret for male patients was that they wished that they had not worked so hard. They felt that they missed to much of their children’s youth and the companionship of their partner. Now that women are also becoming breadwinners…they too are experiencing this regret. When looking back, both felt that they could have spent less time at work and lived on less and still been happy. Just by simplifying their lifestyle to include less stuff and more conscious time with the important people in their lives would have been priceless.
Lastly, a surprisingly common regret of patients was the wish that they had let themselves be happier. Happiness is a choice and many patients did not realize that their habits and their comfort zones limited their happiness instead of insuring it. Fear of change had them pretending to themselves and others that they were content. They had let go of the deep belly laughter and had no space left for the silliness that encouraged creativity and happiness.
Let go and smile before you are at the end of your life….whatever age that is. Life is a choice. A happy life is a conscious choice. Choose honestly and wisely the life you want to live. Make happiness the priority and let life provide the rest. You have a Choice!