What Will You Regret The Most?
I once read a study on what people regret the most on their deathbed. When folks knew they were taking their last breaths and their life was coming to end, they were able to communicate their regrets. The most common regret was the lack of happiness in their lives.
When life came to a close for those that participated in the study, they realized that happiness was a choice and they wished they simply allowed themselves to be happy more and to not fret about so much that meant so little in the end.
I wrote a blog post, Why the Pursuit of Happiness Only Makes You Miserable, where I discussed the fallacy of the pursuit of happiness, because it is fleeting; however, there is happiness in our lives when we choose it, rather than pursue it. Happiness is an emotion, like sadness, and is something in which we control, so why do so many of us choose not to be happy?
In the book Essentialism, the author states. “The ability to choose cannot be taken away or even given away – it can only be forgotten.” The book coins the term “learned helplessness” when people forget they have choices and accept their current situation as a static event or emotion in which they have no control. This is never the case. Everyone always has a choice every time.
What is going on in your life right now that is stealing your joy? What situation is so desperate that you have lost your choice to be happy? I espouse that there is no situation great enough to steal your joy. Only you have the power to give that up.
Viktor Frankl, a WWII Nazi death camp survivor, discovered the undeniable power of choice while he was beaten and tortured by his Nazi tormentors where he lost his entire family, except his sister, to the Nazi concentration camps. In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor wrote, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
So in the end, when you draw your last breath and reflect on your own life, will you be able to say, “Above all else and with every circumstance, I chose my own way.”? Never forget your power to choose and your ability to mark your own path. I choose a path of joy in my work, my impact, and my legacy. AND, I choose happiness. How about you? What will you choose today?