I’m normally not one for New Year’s Resolutions, as I believe every day of the year is an opportunity to make a renewed commitment to important things in your life. However, I recently came upon “Top Regrets of the Dying” by Bronnie Ware and it struck a chord with me how important commitments beyond eating and exercise are to our well-being. Based on what dying patients regretted most about their lives, here are a few things to think about for 2012.
1. GET OFF THE TREADMILL. Dying people wished they didn't work so hard or so much — they missed much of their children's childhood or their significant other's companionship.
- Get off the work treadmill of life by realizing ways to work smarter instead of longer.
- Become clear and stay focused on what's really important in life. Is it really money that makes you happy? Or is it the relationships and experiences you have?
- Think about simplifying your lifestyle. Expensive tastes and toys require you to work more.
2. GET OFF THE SIDELINES. When people realized their life was almost over it was apparent how many dreams had gone unrealized. Many had not even honored half, and they had to die knowing it was due to the choices they had made, or not made.
- Make your 100 Things To Do List and work toward doing at least 1 of them every year.
- Take one step toward realizing a goal. When that step is over, determine what the next step will be.
- You'll need your health to accomplish these things, so commit to taking care of yourself for the long-term to ensure you've got enough time on the planet to realize your dreams.
3. GET OFF YOUR DIGITAL DEVICES. It's common for a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip but when faced with death, the physical details of life fall away. It all comes down to love and relationships in the end. Research shows how critical our social relationships are to our health and well-being.
- Social connections are key to happiness. Connect with existing friends regularly or go to events where you can meet new people to expand your social network.
- True, social media allows us to “talk”, but how deep are our connections? Make time to nurture and foster relationships face to face and have deep, meaningful interactions.
- Stop multitasking in the presence of people that are important to you. It sends the message they are not important enough to get your full and best energy, and you're not connecting.
4. CHOOSE HAPPINESS. Many people did not realize until the end of their lives that happiness is a choice. They were stuck in negative patterns and habits, and let the fear of change stop them from making different choices. They longed to laugh properly and have silliness is their life again.
- 2012 has been designated “The Year of Hilarity” with my partner. We realized we had gotten into a pattern of dullness in everyday life and have made a point to bring back more fun.
- Begin or end each day with 5 things you are grateful for instead of being focused on the negative.
- Regular exercise has been shown to improve mood and self-esteem. Be sure to move your body in some capacity every day.
- Be kind to others. Altruistic acts light up the same pleasure centers of the brain as food and sex.