Proud of Your Decisions?

We make decisions everyday.

Sometimes, we find ourselves at a cross-road in this process, especially when the decision is a particularly hard one – do we do what we think is right (according to our personal values/logic)? But what if that option’s fraught with challenges and hence, so much more difficult to execute? Or do we do what’s the easiest or most efficient (which may not be necessarily wrong – depending on perspective)? Or do we do what will benefit us the most?

Very often, there’s no clear-cut, ten-year-series answers to such difficult questions and it’s really more of a judgment call. How then do you make the decision?

I came across this two-part YouTube video about a boy, Ben Breedlove, who died on Christmas Day after fighting a serious heart condition for most of his life. Shortly before his death, he posted a two-part video on YouTube, in which he silently describes his life and several near-death experiences through cue cards.

After watching the video, one thing stayed with me. When he was near the verge of death, he thought about the way he led his life and he was proud of how he did it.

Sometimes, some of us tend to over-analyse our problems, but ultimately, perhaps the litmus test should be… would this be a decision that we would be proud of when we look back five, ten or even twenty years down the road.

I thought this video was worth sharing and I hope you’ll gain some perspective from it as well.

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Minimise regrets, before it’s too late.

Came across this article on the top five regrets that people have on their deathbeds, based on a palliative care nurse’s personal experience.

Nurse reveals the top 5 regrets people make on their deathbed | Arise India Forum

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives. People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality.
I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life.

Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end.
That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again. When you are on your deathbed, what  others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

Source: Arise India Forum

Reading the article, it seems like I can already identify with a few. As a reminder to myself to try to live life to the fullest on my terms instead of getting all caught up in the humdrum and rat-race, I’m posting this here and sharing it with you.

It isn’t easy to have no regrets, but we can try to minimise them as much as possible.