Category Archives: Random Thought

Regrets of the Dying

Earlier today I was linked to a post on the blog of Bronnie Ware, who worked with patients on their death bed in palliative care for many years.  The post sums up some of the most common responses people had when questioned  about any regrets they had or what they would have done differently in their lives.  Below is the list in it’s entirety.

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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 a 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 didn’t work 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 is 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.

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People & Things

People & Things

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Original Alice in Wonderland (1903)

With Disney’s Alice in Wonderland being released this week, it’s only fitting to take a look into the past and experience the original filmed version of the movie.  The film is over 100 years old and had to be restored.  It’s amazing how far we’ve come in cinema.

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The Attraction of “Youth”

Throughout Edmund Morris’ biography of Theodore Roosevelt, which focuses on the years before the Bull Moose became president, Teddy is described as a person with a unique and bold personality.  What strikes me as most interesting is the reoccurring description of Teddy’s child-like characteristics, even when he was in his 30’s.  One person who was fond of Roosevelt, Mrs. Bellamy Storer,  is quoted saying that:

“The peculiar attraction and fascination” of the young Theodore Roosvelt “lay in the fact that he was like a child; with a child’s spontaneous outbursts of affection, of fun, and of anger; and with the brilliant brain and fancy of a child.” (p. 563)

Even today, there seems to be a popular attraction to youth.  Think of all the times you’ve heard people tell teenagers and college students about how they’re jealous of their age, or that those years are the best years of a person’s life?  Think about how willing employers are to hire graduates recently out of school for positions at their companies, while older applicants are just as qualified but not given the benefit of the doubt.  Think of how “cute” people think it is when a 3-4 year old child asks a question or speaks their mind.

At what point in our lives do we go from having all the curiosities of a child to being a “grown up”?  Is there a specific point in most people’s lives where they decide to start acting “mature” and try to fit into the norms of society?  It seems that in most cases, once people mature they become less interested in the world and more focused on a select number of things (for lack of a better word).  Personally, I believe that everybody has the ability keep/reattain their youthful curiosities and habits, but it’s something they have to work on each and every day.  So go ahead and say what’s on your mind or ask stupid questions every once in a while, people enjoy being in the presence of others with youthful characteristics.

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Provisional Existence

“A man who could not see the end of his “provisional existence” was not able to aim at an ultimate goal in life. He ceased living for the future, in contract to a man in normal life. Therefore the whole structure of his inner life changed; signs of decay set in which we know from other areas of life. The unemployed worker, for example, is in a similar position. His existence has become provisional and in a certain sense he cannot live for the future or aim at a goal. Research work done on unemployed miners has shown that they suffer from a peculiar sort of deformed time–inner time–which is a result of their unemployed state. In camp, a small time unit, a day, for example, filled with hourly tortures and fatigue, appeared endless. A larger time unit, perhaps a week, seemed to pass very quickly.” – Viktor E. Frankl’s

Frankl’s A Man’s Search For Meaning is a fantastic book written by an Austrian psychiatrist who survived several long years in concentration camps during the Holocaust.  He points out in the book, that many people in the camps had their perspective of time warped as a result of not knowing when they would be released from the camps (or if they would be released at all).  Without certainty of the future, they found it difficult to set goals or find the significance in their labor and suffering.  This would ultimately cause many people to give up on their lives, which meant certain death in the conditions they lived under in places like Auschwitz.  Creating a sense of “provisional existence” was one of the most cruel forms of torture committed against the prisoners.

The unemployment rate recently hit 9.7%.  My guess is that there are a lot of people out there experiencing a sense of “provisional existence”, uncertain when they will find a job.  Not knowing the time frame of unemployment makes it difficult to set goals and find purpose and meaning in a daily routine.  Sure, being unemployed is nothing compared to the Holocaust, but it doesn’t always take something so extreme to make someone lose their mind.

If this excerpt has taught me anything, it’s that no matter how dire and hopeless a situation appears at the surface, finding a sense of meaning in even the most insignificant tasks and routines can give a sense of purpose, and can provide enough hope to get through what may appear to be an endless amount of suffering.

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The Suburbs

Paul Graham, a well known venture capitalist and essayist, has an interesting post titled “Why Nerds Are Unpopular“, where he gives his opinion on why nerds find it so hard to fit into the American schools.  Reading through the whole article is well worth your time, but I find the quote below to be most interesting:

If I could go back and give my thirteen year old self some advice, the main thing I’d tell him would be to stick his head up and look around. I didn’t really grasp it at the time, but the whole world we lived in was as fake as a Twinkie. Not just school, but the entire town. Why do people move to suburbia? To have kids! So no wonder it seemed boring and sterile. The whole place was a giant nursery, an artificial town created explicitly for the purpose of breeding children.

Where I grew up, it felt as if there was nowhere to go, and nothing to do. This was no accident. Suburbs are deliberately designed to exclude the outside world, because it contains things that could endanger children.

Having Grown up in a suburb myself, I am surprised I never thought of them in this light.  I’m pretty embarrassed to say that it wasn’t until after I travelled throughout Asia during college that I realized most people in the world DON’T live in suburbs.  Now, being a resident of Manhattan, this realization is becoming even more clear, as I see kids in grade school crossing boroughs on subways by themselves to get to school.

I am grateful for growing up in my suburb, seeing that I benefited from its safe streets, quality schools, etc., but I also happy that I’ve been exposed to life outside of the green grass and subdivisions.  The world is exciting and unpredictable to be stuck inside the walls of the suburbs.

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Commencing Creativeness

Time to experiment with my creative side.  I hope this gets more interesting than a few meaningless posts.  Here goes nothing…

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