Beautiful, inspiring work by Bronnie Ware, Top Five Regrets of the Dying.
The last one surprised me, but there was also this big feeling of recognition about it. I just didn’t realize it was as widespread as it apparently is. I thought it was just me, not a collective theme.
It reads like this:
I wish that I had let myself be happier.
That’s such a strange thing to say, really. But it’s something I can very much relate to. I have a fear of being happy and joyful and playful.
I have a rule that says I have to justify being happy. If I feel happy, a voice in my head asks me “what are you happy about?”, and if I don’t have a good answer, in the form of an impressive accomplishment, then the voice isn’t happy about me being happy and I can’t allow myself to be happy.
And when I’m happy I’m always afraid that something bad is going to happen. I have this voice that says “watch out, bad stuff happens when you least expect it, when you’re happy and juts in the moment; you gotta always be on the lookout, always be vigilant, always have extra large ears, listen for clues that something’s about to hit you hard from behind”.
I’m not sure where it comes from or why, but it does make it pretty hard for me to be relaxed and happy.
I suspect, reading that last regret, that I’m not alone in this.
I get especially irritated and annoyed (and afraid) when others around me are happy and playful, because I have this rule that I can’t be that, so I won’t allow others to be that, either (ever heard of the shadow effect?). Can you imagine how much fun it must be to be my partner or my children? Not always that fun, I can assure you. (Yeah, I’m working on this.)
Why wait till you’re dying to figure this out? It’s not rocket science that you might regret not allowing yourself to be happier.
I mean, seriously, the thing that keeps you from being happy is ultimately the fear of death. And, surprise!!, you’re going to ultimately die. So what’s there to be afraid of … really?
Picture yourself at your death and ask yourself, what would I most regret on my deathbed?