A few years ago, Bronnie Ware, a nurse who cared for patients during their final days recorded the five most common regrets of the dying and published her findings in a book.
One of the regrets people expressed near the end of their life was…
I wish that I had let myself be happier
Dying individuals didn’t say, “I wish that I had been happier.” They said over and over again, “I wish that I had let myself be happier.” There is a huge difference between those two sentences.
So, for all of us who have been fortunate enough to ring in another new year, how do we begin this process?
STEP 1: Do at least one thing each day that makes you truly happy and simultaneously let go of one thing that is no longer serving you.
STEP 2: Continue adding to the above.
These days, we tend to wear “busy” like a badge of honor. “I’m so stressed out” is a common phrase in our culture and we often talk about how out of balance our life is.
It is almost impossible to add things that bring us joy without taking something away.
But, the New Year is a great time to take stock of your life.
How are you choosing to spend your time? Do the activities you engage in fill you up? If not, why are you doing them and how can you let them go?
Are you engaged in any unhealthy patterns and habits that bring you down and that you often beat yourself up about? Is the comfort of familiarity preventing you from making changes to your behavior?
Do you worry about what people think about you and does this prevent you from living the life you truly want to live or simply doing things that will bring you real happiness? In talking with those close to death, Ware found that what other people thought about them was the farthest thing from their mind. If we know that we won’t care about what others think of us when we are on our deathbed can we let go of it while we are still able to enjoy life?
If any of the above statements resonate with you, here is a way to begin the process of change. Before committing to any activity simply ask yourself, “Will this result in making me truly happy?”
When deciding whether to take on a volunteer role, ask yourself this question before agreeing to do something you really don’t want to do.
If you are about to order dinner, ask yourself this question and you might be surprised at how it helps you to choose foods that will make you feel energetic rather than eating something that you will later berate yourself about.
This question can literally be applied to each and every choice you make throughout your day.
And while some may at first glance think that focusing on their own happiness is selfish, my experience has been that the opposite proves true. Just think about it. If a friend or loved one needs your help and you are depleted, you might end up feeling resentful. But, if you are filled up then it genuinely makes you happy to do something for someone else whether that means giving your time, talent, money or a host of other things we all have to share. In fact, the latest research on happiness shows that happiness spreads. Meaning, when we choose happiness it makes it easier for others to choose happiness.
We all have the same 24 hours in each day and if we are lucky, we will be ringing in 2016 before we know it. What big and little choices will you have made between now and then?
Here’s to choosing happiness in 2015!
“What is life for? It is for you.”