Friday, March 27, 2015

     A Hospice Nurse reported people’s top five regrets. Many of the patients were older so that accounts for some of the reasons, but it is interesting to read what people say. When a person is close to death, there are no holds barred--no pride to maintain, no competition, no consequences to one’s statements. I have always been fascinated by such reports.

Here are the top five things people wish they had done or hadn’t:

  1. worked so hard (particularly mentioned by men who were away from family)

  1. had the courage to express feelings authentically (many people repress feelings to keep peace--often a female trait. Resentment and hostility can cause physical and emotional illness)

  1. stayed in touch with friends 

  1. let themselves be happier (not worried about unimportant things)

  1. lived their lives authentically instead of how others expected them to live

     If we ask ourselves the obvious questions about the above, it is interesting how we can lie to ourselves or rationalize our behavior based on our belief system. Sometimes as we get older, we find out our belief system was a big sham. This is not a fun discovery, trust me. Ask yourself, “How hard do I work?” “What price am I paying or will I pay, if I continue at this rate?” As a former workaholic, I can relate to all rationalizations. “I need the money,” “I need the identity,” I like the status,”My family deserves stuff.” As George Carlin ranted, we don’t need all the stuff we have--most of today’s stuff gets replaced by tomorrow’s stuff, and most of it is meaningless and wasteful. 

     Many women, particularly in my generation, were taught to be quiet and not create waves. We were told that nice girls don’t get angry or make noise. In my humble opinion, this helped create a generation of people pleasers. People pleasers are never happy, because they aim to please, often paying the price of no self-respect. Through the years, we all learn that there is a fine line between being a complainer, a nag, a naysayer, an arrogant you-know-what and a person who stands up for his or her beliefs and rights. 

     Staying in touch with friends is a personal choice. I happen to be one who values friendship, and I always seem to be the one who reaches out. Even though sometimes it hurts my pride because I seem to be the initiator, I have never been sorry to keep nurturing my valued friendships. As time goes on, those we thought deserved the “friend” label, really weren’t, so the ones who float up to the top are the treasured ones who deserve to be nurtured. I honestly believe that if we have two or three genuine friends, we are blessed. 
     Happiness is elusive. It can’t be bought, sold, rented, leased, hijacked or kidnapped. Happiness is the journey, not the destination. Many expect someone else to provide it. I know people who think “if I find the right companion, husband, boyfriend, then I’ll be happy.” Happy is not a 50% deal; it is 100%. Someone else cannot make us happy. Once we recognize that the happiness is a process, a path, a frame of mind, then we relax and it comes. I would rather have joy than happiness. Happiness is short-lived; joy  keeps on giving. Some people never find joy. I am not always happy, but I find joy in everyday places every day.

     The last one I found most fascinating. Many in my generation, especially women, were “programmed.” We were told what to study, where to study, how to find a man, how to keep a man, how many kids to have, what kind of lifestyle was appropriate and even how much money to earn. If you were not one of those women, consider yourself lucky. I was, and it took many years to “DEprogram myself,” and the job is still not done. 
Programming isn’t all bad, and usually it was conducted in the name of love. Unfortunately, the end product is not authentic. When a friend of mine in my forties told me I was like in the story, The Velveteen Rabbit, not authentic, I remember being very hurt. The sad thing was, he was right; I wasn’t. Being true to oneself seems so obvious and easy, but if you were “programmed” otherwise, it can be a lifelong process. In his book, The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz states,”Just being ourselves is the biggest fear of humans. We have learned to live our life trying to satisfy other people’s demands. We have learned to live by other people’s points of view because of the fear of not being accepted and of not being good enough for someone else.” Wow. That’s powerful. A good read, check it out. 

     I don’t claim to be an expert at anything other than trying to be the very best I can be without being someone I’m not. I’ve tried being someone I’m not, and that didn’t fit. Sometimes, I haven’t an effen clue who I am or why things come out of my pie hole, but it’s all a process, and when I’m sitting there staring at the Hospice nurse one day, I hope I say, “You know what, I’ve done the work, I’ve learned the lessons, and I am the best I could be, so I’m ready. I regret nothing.”

**The cyber devil changed my 1-5 to 1-1-1-1-1. Maybe he felt that all five were important. I've learned the hard way not to cross him, so I'm just leaving it alone:)