Living well is not only about affluence, although having your basic needs met can make the good life possible. It is about intention, purpose and love.
It is making the most of what you have and accepting that it is enough to take you to your next level. Even when all you have is just your life and health.
We probably won’t truly understand how brief life is until we go through the proverbial “my whole life flashed before my eyes in seconds” moment. By then it will be too late. For now, elevate living. Make it sacred. Make it worth your while.
When a palliative care nurse who worked with terminally ill patients, Bronnie Ware, wrote a blog titled “The 5 top regrets of the dying”, she had no idea it would resonate across the world and make her an internet sensation.
While she admitted that her article, and subsequent book was based on her eyewitness accounts, conversations with the dying and not scientific research, nonetheless, it was a powerful work that provides readers with a chance to take stock of their lives. The five top regrets as witnessed by Ware are:
“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
“I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”
“I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”
“I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”
“I wish that I had let myself be happier.”
Perhaps what makes it so compelling is that end of life conversations tend to refocus us on what really matters, and how we are making the most of our limited and fast diminishing time. Thing is, life can be so daily, and we can get caught up in it’s grind with little thought about how we want it to end. Consider this: Have you ever wondered where the time, year or decade went? Are some years of your life a blur and all you have to account for them is one line on your resume? Are you so caught up with partying in your 20s, building a career and raising a family in your 30s, paying off your mortgage or buying that plot in your 40s, paying for college and worrying about retirement in your 50s? Do all these activities on living so consume you that you are hardly aware of the quiet passage of time until you get a wake up call through a health scare or the loss of a loved one or friend? After your wake-up call, do you then try to ‘make-up’ on lost time through rash decisions?
We all pray that when we do get to “the end”, and the credits roll on what we did, who we loved, and how we lived, we will have few or no regrets at all. Over the years, I have come to understand that this one precious life we have all been given requires that we actively engage with it. That we jump into the pool of living, loving, serving rather than just dipping our toes. In the Lion Chaser’s Manifesto, Mark Batterson urges us to “quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death.” If you are like me, you want to get to the end of life empty, having poured out everything in you, your dreams, your love and left it in the arena that was your life. You don’t want to be lowered into your grave, still intact with unexplored dreams, forgiveness that was never sought or love that was never expressed.
IT IS YOUR LIFE
In the end, I believe, it boils down to how we lived, not just that we lived. Examine this day. It is your life. You will have moments to work, play, love, laugh, learn and live a legacy. Do not just drift through it. Engage. Be present. Be loving. Be purposeful. James Albert Michener writes, “The masters in the art of living make little distinction between their work and their play, their labour and their leisure, their minds and their bodies, their information, their recreation, their love and their religion. They hardly know which is which, they simply pursue their vision of excellence at whatever they do, leaving others to decide whether they are working or playing.”
It is true that we only live once. But if you do it right, once is enough.