"I have seen and touched and danced and sung and climbed and loved and meditated on a lifetime spent living honestly. Should it all end tomorrow, I can positively say there would be no regrets. I feel fortunate to have walked 90 years in my shoes. I am truly lucky. I really have lived 1,000 times over."
Those are the opening lines to one of the final entries in Marc's grandmother's journal - a 270-page, leather-bound journal she wrote small entries in almost every day during the final decade of her life. When she passed on, she formally left her journal for Marc in her will. Since then, Marc and I have read it from cover to cover countless times. The quote above is the one we have printed out and hanging on our refrigerator. It reminds us to strive to end each day with no excuses, no false explanations, and no regrets.
Over the course of our blog's eight-year lifespan, Marc and I have received several thousand emails from readers who either have regrets or are fearful that they are leading a life that will ultimately lead to regret. As we've read and responded to each of these emails over the years, it became clear to us that most people struggle with the exact same regrets. In this email, I want to share five of these regrets with you - the ones that seem, by a long shot, to be the most popular among our readers - and examine some ideas on how to avoid their grief.
1. Waiting until tomorrow, again.
The trouble is, you always think you have more time than you do. But one day you will wake up and there won't be any more time to work on the things you've always wanted to do. And at that point you either will have achieved the goals you set for yourself, or you will have a list of excuses for why you haven't. Don't do this to yourself. If it's important to you, START TODAY.
2. Taking no risks, and making no progress.
Living is risky business. Every decision, every interaction, every step, every time you get out of bed in the morning, you take a small risk. To truly live is to know you're getting up and taking that risk, and to trust yourself to take it. To not get out of bed, clutching to illusions of safety, is to die slowly without ever having truly lived. It's better to have a life full of small failures that you learned from, rather than a lifetime filled with the regrets of never trying.
3. Resisting reality instead of owning it and working on it.
You're choosing, all day, every day. If you're struggling at a job you don't love, look at it this way: you're choosing to make a living to pay your mortgage, support your family, and fuel your dreams. Don't resist it; own it - that's where your power is. If you're in a relationship that's causing you pain, you're choosing to be in it. Maybe staying will lead to essential growth or a breakthrough or a deeper understanding of love. Or not. But you're choosing to be in or out, right now. Whichever you choose, own it - that's where your power is.
4. Holding on to the same old grudge.
Grudges are for those who insist that they are owed something; forgiveness, on the other hand, is for those who are confident enough to stand on their own two legs and move on. In order to move on, you must know why you felt the way you did, and why you no longer need to feel that way. It's about accepting the past, letting it be, and pushing your spirit forward with good intentions. Nothing empowers your ability to heal and grow as much as your love and forgiveness.
5. Wasting too much time wanting everyone to like you.
Don't take things too personally, even if it seems personal. Rarely do people do things because of you; they do things because of them. You honestly can't change how people treat you or what they say about you. All you can do is change how you react and who you choose to be around.
And of course, if you're struggling with any of these points, know that you are not alone. We are all in this together. Many of us are right there with you, working hard to feel better, think more clearly, and keep our lives and relationships on track. This is precisely why Marc and I wrote our book, "1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently."