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What do you regret?

It’s a useful question to ask, and many of us hit occasions when we do just that – on the last day of your life, what do you regret?

A palliative care nurse recently compiled a list of the top 5 things the dying stated they regretted. These might not surprise you:

1.    I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
2.    I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
3.    I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
4.    I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
5.    I wish that I had let myself be happier

You could check how much this list fits with your everyday concerns, and whether key ones in this list are not actually attended to by you on a day to day basis. In other words, what’s really missing?

The thing is we don’t come up with “I wish I had done that trip to some special part of the world, or had this or that experience, or made my fortune and retired happily ever after, or had this or that lifestyle”. It’s the really fundamental things, those that strike at the core of our being, who we are.

Where you feel the power of the emotion of that thought.

This is really key. Depending on what you believe, there are many traditions that say we go through some kind of life review at the end of our lives. This question brings us up face to face with what we’ve really been doing or not doing with our lives. And there can be something unfinished, incomplete, not resolved.

There may be an aspect to this that we may of course come to learn to accept. Letting go of regrets and forgiving others can be part of the journey of personal and spiritual growth.

However there are others that we may well have choice over in other ways. Yet we continue to plough our furrow and not deal with them. We deflect ourselves away from making contact with these fundamental things within us, and thus live life on the dimmer switch. We deny our own life force. It can be almost perverse.

Yet we do have choice. As humans we do have free will. Will you choose life?

So, here’s where you can make your choice. Use the up-coming workshop next Saturday to explore for yourself:

1.    How I might choose to starting living a life where I am true to myself
2.    How I might make changes in my work that meet my real life goals
3.    How I might be more authentic
4.    How I might be more connected to others
5.    How I might bring lasting happiness into my life

You can book here: click here.

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Do you look forward with hope?

Do you look forward to your weekend with pleasure, like anticipating the arrival of something better? Is the weekend better than what happens during the week? Or are they the lesser of two evils. Or is none of it any good?

How we anticipate the future, such as looking forward to things optimistically, is a useful test of our outlook on life. It raises some fundamental questions, such as our belief that things will get better, that life has some good bits to it, that all is OK. People have often told me they remember when they used to look forward to life, with a “glass half-full” attitude, but that various events in life have knocked the shine off that. So they might say that each day for them is an effort, that they have nothing to look forward to, or that when they looked ahead they didn’t see any hope.

Of course that may in part depend on your circumstances; you might even say “a lot.” One might think that if you are alone, having a partner would make a difference, or if your finances are dire or if you are out of work then some improvement in those areas would make a difference. Then you might feel better about life if you are ill or have had a sudden change in circumstances or many of the other things that happen that can suddenly alter your perspective on life.

The Buddha taught that circumstances in life were impermanent, that nothing stays the same. In Gestalt, we say that the self is always in process, things move on. People say that the one constant in life is change. Yogic philosophy teaches that the circumstances of life are illusory. It is our efforts to keep things as we want them, to resist change, that gives us trouble.

So it can help to think about having an approach to life that accepts what occurs, that does not look back with regret or resentment to the past or is fearful of the future, and accepts that present as it is. So often we want things to be different, which is paradoxical given the above. One way forward is to learn to know our core, Who we really Are, since that doesn’t change. It’s to see through the flux, change and upheaval to the constancy of the Self within. In that space, there’s a sense of constancy based on an inner stillness and “centredness”, a kind of inner knowing that all is OK. And you find that by doing your inner work. Then you can know the true meaning of non-attachment to the fear of and resistance to change.

So, maybe spend some time this weekend reflecting on what is going for you, what you have that endures and has value despite the seeming change at the superficial level. If you meditate, look within to that core within you that is still, aware, and constant. Mediate on That. You might even find you are looking forward to it.