“Work hard, do your best, live the truth, trust yourself, have some fun… and you will have no regrets.”
Only twelve more sleeps till Christmas. All the more reason to live life with no regrets.
Warwick, why are you talking about no regrets, twelve days out from Christmas?
I thought you would never ask!
Recently, my wife and I were invited to speak together at a church by an old friend of ours. I suggested to my wife that we do something different, something never done before, by us anyway. I suggested that we pretend that if this were the last time we can share with people — what would be the three most important things we could say to them?
As a husband and wife, we agreed on the first two, and diverged on the last point.
Let me tell you about it.
If you have been reading the Dads4Kids weekly newsletter for some time, you would realise that I have a strong faith in God. I don’t always write about this because my focus is on trying to encourage ALL dads to be good fathers. Atheists, Muslims, Hindus and Christians receive this newsletter, designed to inspire fathers and encourage families.
Being a good father is being a good father and that vocation is open to all no matter your belief.
Having said that, let me share with you my top three pieces of advice. All from the heart. Thank you for your grace and understanding.
With Christmas being only twelve days away, the first one is most appropriate.
The first thing to understand, and to do, is to accept the fact that God is good and we should love Him. After all, He gave His only son Jesus, whose life we are celebrating this Christmas. What is there not to love about Jesus? As Julian of Norwich said about her Saviour, “utterly kind and unassuming”. If you want to know more about the reason for the season, and my ‘first thing of three’ read my post, “Christmas — Special Time of the Year“.
Secondly, people are precious and so we should love them. We should especially love those we are closest to, and often the hardest to love. That is why Jesus said, “love your neighbour as yourself”. The people we don’t know can be easiest to be kind to, while those we are closest to can be the hardest.
Dads4Kids exists for the cause of love. Our mission is to encourage you to love your wife and children, as you love yourself. This is our greatest challenge, and the source of our greatest joy!
The third most important thing I shared with everyone last Sunday was, “live your life out of your heart — this will bring you your greatest fulfilment and your greatest joy.” It says in Proverbs 4:24,
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
When I was a young boy a teacher asked the class,
“Which would you prefer — a job you can enjoy and put your heart into, or a job that makes you lots of money?”
I was one of a small minority in my class who opted for a job I could enjoy and put my heart into.
Mark Twain was right to say,
“Find a job you enjoy doing and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
Let me share those regrets with you now. They are all to do with matters of the heart.
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 realise 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 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 hadn’t worked 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 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.
So, live out of your heart and I guarantee you will avoid all of the above regrets. On a side note, my wife’s last point diverged in that she maintained the importance of taking personal responsibility for your health.
All I can say is that if you live out of your heart you will look after your health, and vice versa. The two are closely related.
Start living out of your heart, for your own sake and for your family’s sake.
You will have no regrets!
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