Oprah has given many interviews in her life; but when film critic Gene Siskel asked her several years ago what she knew for sure, she was not able to answer. Since then, she’s been exploring that question and she’s come to understand things that matter like joy, resilience, awe, connection, gratitude and possibility.
As she says in What I know For Sure, “you live, and if you’re open to the world, you learn.”
- Every day brings a chance for sure to draw in a breath, kick off your shoes, and step out and dance—to live free of regret and filled with as much joy, fun, and laughter as you can stand.
You have two options. You can either waltz boldly onto the stage of life and live the way you know your spirit is nudging you to, or you can sit quietly, receding into the shadows of fear and self-doubt.
What’s your choice?
Perhaps one of the mechanisms to walk away from a life of regrets, even if your circumstances are not the desired ones, is to think about your death.
Brownie Ware is a writer who worked for many years in palliative care. Her patients suffered from incurable conditions and knew they were dying. She took care of them during the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.
When she asked her patients whether they had any regrets in their lives or if they would have done anything differently, a number of themes came up again and again. In The Top Five Regrets of The Dying, Brownie shares the most common ones:
- 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 realize that their life is almost over and look back on it, they often realize how many of their dreams have been unfulfilled.
- I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
This came from every male patient that she nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship.
- I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.
Many people suppressed their feelings to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a life they didn’t want and never became who they could have been.
- I wish I’d stayed in touch with my friends.
Many people didn’t appreciate the full benefits of old friend until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down.
- I wish I had let myself be happier.
Many people didn’t realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits.
Your journey begins with a choice to get up, step out, and live fully
- We are each responsible for our own life.
No matter who we are, or where we come from, we all have our own journey. Healing the wounds of the past is one of the biggest and most worthwhile challenges in life. It’s important to know when and how you were programmed, so you can change the program.
What are you responsible for?
If there was a single question that you can ask someone to measure how resilient they’re going to be, says Eric Greitens in Resilience, you ask them what are you responsible for? And what you find is that even in the most difficult situations when you look at stories of people who have been prisoners of war, for example, people who survived said I’m going to take control of my thoughts or I’m going to take control of the way that I breathe. And when you focus on actually taking control of something and what happens is your circle of control begins to widen and people begin to see that even in the face of hardship and difficulty there’s a way for them to build power and live a purposeful life.
New scientific research suggests that resilience isn’t something with which only a fortunate few of us have been born, but rather something we can all take specific action to develop. To build strength out of adversity, we need a catalyst. What we need, according to Dr. Alex Lickerman, author of The Undefeated Mind, is wisdom―wisdom that adversity has the potential to teach us.
Every choice gives you a chance to pave your own road.
- If you are looking for someone to heal and complete you, you are wasting your time.
In How To Love, Thich Nhat Hanh states that you can only love another person when you feel true love for yourself.
Each of us can learn the art of nourishing happiness and love. Everything needs food to live, and love. If we don’t know how to nourish our love, it withers. When we feed and support our own happiness, we are nourishing our ability to love. That’s why to love means the art of nourishing our happiness.
Stop waiting for your companion to say ‘I appreciate you,’ your kids to tell you what a great mother you are, a man to whisk you away and marry you or your best friend to assure you that you’re worth a darn.
Look inward—you have the power to give yourself the love, affection, and intimacy.