One of the saddest facts of life is that at some point in the, hopefully, distant future, we are going to die. Presently, there is just no getting around that. But, this depressing certainty leaves us with a healthy challenge; how to best utilize the short time we have so we can look back at our lives without regret.
It’s not easy. Not when there are countless daily decisions that could result in a regretful outcome. Living and dying happy, however, doesn’t mean kicking yourself after every bad decision. It’s about filling your life with joyful experiences and wonderful memories.
But, of course, that is easier said than done. So here are seven tips you can use as guidelines to ensure that when you reach your prime years you can look back at life with a smile on your face.
1. Learn to say yes more often
In the film, Yes Man, Carl Allen, played by Jim Carey, challenges himself to say yes to everything for a whole year. Carl soon realizes the amazing power of “Yes” as his life is turned around – job promotion and a new girlfriend are amongst the key benefits of him saying yes to everything.
But, saying yes to every opportunity had its downsides in this tale, as it would no doubt in real life. No one would advocate literally saying yes to everything. That could have disastrous consequences. However, most of us seem to have a natural propensity to say no way too much.
Because of fear or simply being too lazy, “no” becomes the default. Adopting a “yes” mentality will open your life up to more opportunities and greater experiences. Start saying yes whenever circumstances allow it and see the difference it will make to your life.
2. Find something to laugh at every day
It is said that on average children laugh 300 to 500 times per day. As adults, we laugh a miserable 15 times per day. Why does the world become less funny the older we get? A child can find something to laugh about in the most, seemingly, mundane of things. And so should you.
Laughing is good for you, and it also feels amazing. Think about this, the more time you spend laughing, the less time you spend stressing. We all know the devastating effects stress can have on the human body. Simply put, the more you laugh, the longer you live.
The world is still just as funny as when you were a child, so start discovering reasons to laugh again.
3. Always make time for the ones you love
Visit any retirement home and have a conversation with the people in the last stretch of life. For most of them, you will find, the primary regret is not having spent enough time with loved ones. A multitude of things occupy our time these days, and we all have goals we want to reach. With so much demand on our time, it can seem impossible to relaxing and enjoy moments with your loved ones.
But, in the senior years of your life, no matter how many goals you’ve achieved, regardless of how much money you have in the bank or how many assets you amassed, the one thing that will haunt you is those missing moments with your family.
4. Prioritise your health
There is only one you. You only get one life. So take care of yourself. Many people seem to go through life as if they’re invincible – eating any and every thing, drinking copious amounts of alcohol, and partying like the world is coming to an end. Such recklessness with your health is only likely to shorten the already short life you have.
There are countless ways that one could end up dying. However, I imagine it would be pretty awful knowing that you could have had another five or ten years of life if you had only looked after yourself. Your health is the most important thing in this world. Without it, you can’t do anything else. So make your health a priority.
5. Don’t get stuck in a job you hate
Working for a living is part and parcel of daily life. Most of us end up in life-sucking jobs that drain our souls at some time or other. Some of us end up getting lazy and spend our whole lives doing a job we hate. Life and time are too precious to make this error. The trick is not to hang around in those jobs for too long.
Use those miserable job experiences as stepping stones. Keep moving forward until you find the job that feels right.
6. Do whatever you can to follow your passions
Few of us can ever identify one thing we are passionate about enough to pursue our entire lives. If, however, you are fortunate enough to have found a passion or two, don’t ignore it. Next to not spending enough time with loved ones, giving up on the pursuit of one’s passion is possible the biggest regret a person could have.
As with most things that bring happiness, you need to be willing to take a leap of faith and possibly get outside of your comfort zone. A passion might take you to the end of the world, so you have to be prepared to follow it.
Would you rather spend you last day on earth wondering what would have happened if you had pursued a passion or reflecting on the wonderful adventures you had in the pursuit of passion?
7. Travel the world
In the same vain as following your passion, travelling the world can bring much-needed adventure and happiness to your life. To spend your life in one place is truly an injustice. Now, more than ever before, we can explore many of the beautiful places on the earth, of which there are countless.
Exploring other countries, discovering different cultures, and exposing yourself to various lifestyles will yield experiences that will leave a feeling of happiness to last a lifetime.
Finally, here’s a thought experiment. Imagine you are on your deathbed many, many years from now. You are reflecting on your life and all the things you’ve done in it. What type of things would you like to fill your thoughts at this moment? Get busy making those things happen now.