Every one of us has experienced feelings of regret. We regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were too afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make, the big opportunity you procrastinated on, that friend you never called, those important words you left unspoken, etc. But it’s not too late to set things straight. We’re still here breathing.
Today, we have an opportunity to change tomorrow. Right now we can choose to erase regret from our later years. It’s time to make the best of each and every day. Here are some ideas to get you started – you can start doing now that you won’t regret a decade down the road:
Let go of those who are already gone. You’re going to mingle with a lot of people in your lifetime. You’re going to have first kisses you feel all the way down to your toes and think “Oh my gosh, I love him,” but really… you loved the kiss. You’re going to meet a friend you think you will know forever, but then something will change and you two will go your separate ways. You’re going to explore different parts of your life with different people who aren’t in it for the long haul, and that isn’t a bad thing. Life is a series of stories, and the way our stories intersect is remarkable. Sometimes people are in our lives for the whole story. Sometimes they are just a short chapter or two. It takes a brave person to know when that chapter is over, and then to turn the page. Be brave. Embrace your goodbyes, because every “goodbye” you receive in life sets you up for an even better “hello.”
Work a little less and spend a little more time smiling with people you love. You’ve heard the saying, “The best things in life are free.” Well spending quality time with family and friends, enjoying the antics of a pet, seeing your son smile, experiencing intimate and heart-felt moments with your significant other – these times are precious and priceless. Don’t get so caught up in the rat race, working 60+ hours a week, to the point where you are too stressed and exhausted to enjoy your closest relationships. By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices to work on the right things, it is possible to live on less, and thus work fewer hours and enjoy more of what truly matters.
Practice relentless kindness. Kindness is always the best response to any situation. When you grow older and you look back on your life, you will inevitably forget a lot of the stuff that seemed so important when you were young. You probably won’t remember what your high school or college GPA was. You will look at your old classmates on Facebook (or some other online social network) and wonder why you ever had a crush on that girl/guy. And you will have the toughest time remembering why you let certain people from your past get the best of you. But you will never forget the people who were genuinely kind – those who helped when you were hurt, and who loved you even when you felt unlovable. Be that person to others as often as possible. And, as you know, what goes around comes around.
Pay more attention to the life you are actually living in each moment. Is there anything worse than getting somewhere and not realizing how you got there? Even worse is only realizing how great something is after it’s gone. Living in the present is a basic notion, but as with most simple things, we often find a way to complicate it. But there’s nothing complicated about learning to appreciate and notice life as it is happening. And trust me, you won’t remember the cool Instagram photo you saw on your feed anyway. You will, however, want to remember the conversations you had and the stories you lived through. So focus accordingly.
Many of us are right there with you, working hard to feel better, think more clearly, and live a life free of headaches and heartache. And believe it or not, I’m currently in the process of re-visiting and focusing my mind on these positive principles and keeping myself on the right track. And of course, if you’re struggling with any of these points, know that you are not alone.
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