Sunday, July 29, 2012

Learning about living - from the dying

Thanks to a facebook friend, I read an article this morning from a British newspaper entitled "Top five regrets of the dying" which talks about a book written by an Australian palliative care nurse, Bronnie Ware:  The Top Five Regrets of the Dying(if the link doesn't work for you, it's because you're not on facebook... so my apologies in advance!)

Anyway, at the risk of 'spoiling' it for those who would have read the book, here are the top five, in order of importance, of things people wish they had done in their lives:

1.   I wish I'd lived a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2.   I wish I hadn't worked so hard (in other words, I wish I hadn't spent so much time at work, furthering my career, and not enough time with my spouse and family).
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.
This print is for sale at INMAGINE

Wow.  Truly the dying can teach us about how to live.  

I'd rather not wait until my death-bed to look back and regret what I could have done NOW.  So my response to the top five regrets of the dying is that it's high time I started living the way they wished they had!

In the last three years or so, I've learned more about how to live life unfettered, unwrapped from the grave-clothes of the past, and unashamed of my feelings, than at any other time in my life.  I really feel as though I am finally - after decades of being steeped in tradition, bound by rules and regulations, and hobbled by hypocrisy - learning how to really LIVE.  It's a heady, scary, delirious, amazing ride with lots of unexpected twists, climbs, and drops.  But it's living instead of just "making do" or "managing." It's living intentionally, not just reacting to circumstances.  

Things no longer "happen" to me. That's "victim-thinking." They just happen.  Period.  Living life in the moment, trusting God for the strength for today ... keeping it real, keeping first things first, expressing my feelings - these are the pillars of the lifestyle I'm learning to live. 

And I'm LIVING. What a trip!

In spite of the circumstances, when I look at my own happiness quotient (in other words, how happy I am) as compared to my life before this new day-by-day kind of living - I'm happier now than ever I was before, even on the bad days.  

And the happiness is spreading.  As I'm learning to be comfortable in my own skin-suit, I treat people around me differently... and now THEY are happier too. 

It's win-win.  For everyone.

And when someday I am facing the Grinning Reaper... I hope that I'll be able to grin right back.

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