If you knew the world was going to end what would you think about? What would you wish you had done more of? What would you wish you had done less of? How would you spend your final day before darkness?
As we waited for it all to end it’s possible many of us would stay trembling in our homes with loved ones contemplating the life we had lived, the people we had spent our time with, the things we had spent the majority of our conscious energy on. Were these things really the things we always wanted to be doing with our lives? Did we spend our time doing things that made a difference to the people we loved and cared for? As we waited for an explosion bigger than anything we had ever experienced, how would we feel?
It’s a difficult concept to imagine as many of the fortunate humans in todays developed societies are ‘protected’ by bubbles of safety, support and predictability in which prevents our minds or bodies from diving that deep down the rabbit hole. So in order to gain an inside perspective on our final hours, Bronnie Ware an Australian palliative care nurse spent years recording the final thoughts of patients in their final 12 weeks of existence, she mentions her patients having phenomenal clarity of vision at the end of their lives and that 5 reoccurring themes returned time after time. Check the powerful pearls of wisdom as follows;
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. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”
2. I wish I hadn’t worked 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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
So considering we’ve only just survived the 2012 Mayan apocalypse what are we going to do differently? How are we going to ensure we keep our priorities in check? With the new year just in effect what better opportunity to take some time to reflect on what’s really most important to us, are we really listening to ourselves?
This isn’t the end of the world, this is the beginning of the new world…