1. "I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me." This one surprised me, and especially that it's #1. I thought, seriously? I can't believe this is a problem for anybody over 30. And yet, when you take a look around, you see that cliques live long past high school, and plenty of people are in bondage to what others think of them. I've written plenty on the subject, and there are countless other things out there on finding the courage to be yourself. It just makes me sad that there are people that go through their entire life without realizing how sacred their uniqueness and authenticity are - until it's too late to do anything about it.
2. "I wish I hadn't worked so hard." I think this has less to do with being workaholics and more to do with a combination of caving into pressure to keep rising and pushing ahead, and a lack of life balance. Life is so full, and the advent of technology has filled it even more with instant everything. It's becoming harder to "turn off" and realize that we need time to play as much as we need time to work. That's not to say that work is for stupid people (as some obviously do believe on the other end of he spectrum), but rather that this regret seems to becon to a need for finding balance in stressful, complicated, over-filled lives.
3. "I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings." This one surprised me because it's not a problem that anybody I know has. In fact, it seems to me that it's exactly the opposite - people are too much in bondage to their feelings and are held hostage by them. I think that here too is a reflection for a need to find balance. Whether we realize it or not, emotions are learned responses. Our brain makes quick connections and assumptions based on prior experience and off it goes into the land of feelings. It seems to me that a better way to handle this regret is through a rephrase of having the courage to understand your feelings so you can handle and express them in ways that build relationships.
4. "I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends." Do you think Generation X and beyond will have this regret, or does social media help with this? Maybe to an extent, but still there's no substitute for face-to-face interaction, and all too often we allow ourselves to get busy with what's in our immediate realm and not making the time for our friends. Again, it's a problem of finding balance. Until we realize that relationships are the most important factor of our earthly living and set our priorities to match that, this will continue to be a regret.
5. "I wish that I had let myself be happier." Yea, this is a widespread problem. Like they say in The Secret, we as a society have become too focused on complaining about what we don't want and not on appreciating our blessings and calling forth what we do want. We need to quit putting conditions on our happiness and learn to be content with such things as we have. Then we're open to receiving more. After all, why should God give you more when you spend all of your time and energy griping about what you already have?
It seems that a common element in all of these regrets is finding balance in life and living true to your priorities. I think what it all boils down to is something I heard a priest say on the EWTN Daily Mass while I was on the exercise bicycle tonight: when it comes to living for Christ, you're either on the way, or in the way. Why? Because the Holy Spirit unites through inspiration and guidance (putting you on the way), while the devil divides through confusion and strife (putting you in your own way).
It's something to think about. Don't you want to make your life the best it can be? Then be an opportunist. Forget regret and find joy. Be yourself. Build relationships. Find balance. Choose to be happy right now, no matter what.
That's all today. Have a happy Friday and a great weekend.