We all have a similar regret when we get to the end of our lives.
Studies have been done asking people who were in the sunset moments of their life, “What do you regret most about life?” By far, the most common answer was, I wish I would have lived more. They said things like, “I wish I would have taken more chances.” “I wish I would have lived a life true to myself.” “I wish I would have left my job and did something I truly loved.” “I wish I would have let myself be happier.”
These are all different ways of saying, “I wish I would have truly lived.”
This is one of the biggest drivers and motivation in my life. I am not afraid to die as much as, I am afraid that I didn’t live enough. I am terrified that I will not unquestionably use up the gift that we have been given, called life.
I’ve observed that during these crazy times that we are now living in, that many people are for the first time coming face to face with the potential of their own mortality. Many don’t know how to deal with it and this scares the hell out of them.
Is it a gift or a curse?
When I was 14 years old, I was riding my bicycle when I was hit by a speeding drunk driver. My body flew 50 feet according to the police report. I was rushed to a NYC hospital where the neurosurgeon told my parents, “If he survives the night, he will be a vegetable for the rest of his life.” My mom and my day prayed for a miracle as I lay in a coma for 4 days. When I woke up, that Monday afternoon, it was just the beginning of a long journey of physical rehabilitation and recovery
Think about all the negative conclusions I could have believed about this incident, had I let it ruin my life. The worst would have been that the woman was a horrible person and I was being punished for something I did.
I could have been angry with myself, “Here is the ultimate proof that you are a total loser. You’re so stupid and careless that you almost got yourself killed.” Self-hate is so easy as a teen and that could have shaped my entire life. Frankly, from time to time, this played a role in my young life but I didn’t let it find a home with me.
I could become a cynical jerk and backed it up with proof that the only thing I am worthy of is pain, poverty and problems. I could have cursed God and asked “Why me?” I could have been depressed and caustic because I missed out on the opportunity to become an Olympic swimmer.
Was that accident, the coma, and years of rehabilitation a curse? Certainly not, I have chosen to believe it is one of the biggest gifts and blessings of my life. And it is a choice, you know. We get to choose what we believe about the events of our life.
But I didn’t fall into the woe is me trap. Instead, my eyes and my heart discovered how amazing and precious life is. I learned that tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone, at any age. Not even a child. I have tried to always live with that appreciation and gratitude.
Instead of anger and resentment, I let that shape my philosophy of life that we live with gratitude and how important it is that we truly live.
Instead, I allowed myself to feel grateful. I saw this incident as rare and glorious evidence that I have been chosen for something amazing. My parents would tell me, “You lived because you are here for a reason. To make a difference. It’s your job to find out what that is. Always remember that.”
But then life happened. I grew up, got a job, got married, achieved success early in life as a carpenter, and frankly, for many years I took life for granted and I started coasting because life got ‘easy’. In a way, I forgot the covenant I made about finding my purpose, making a difference, and living life full-out.
Years later, I found myself in another life transformation moment that would shake me out of my stagnation. I was sitting in my home office when I got a call from my dad and he was crying, “Your brother, your brother is dead!” “Darrin? How? He’s only 45 years old.” They say, when it’s your time, it’s your time. My brother’s time came by the way of an unexpected heart attack.
My brother was my hero. He was shorter than me, but I always looked up to him. He was a giant and he was larger than life with a passion for life and mischievous laughter.
I was training for my run across America when I got that call, and running became my therapy. When I couldn’t sleep at night, I would get up at 2 or 3 am and would run until I couldn’t stay awake. I’d talk to my brother as I ran the hilly New England roads in the silent darkness of night. I’d cry and I promised him, “I will live for the both of us. We will do this together.”
That’s what I have been doing ever since. Not just living for me, but for my brother. And for anyone who is looking for an excuse to truly live. So that others can look at me and say, “If he can do it, I can do it.”
Let me ask you a question.
This is a serious question …
Did you think you’d be further than you are now?
This I believe …
We are here in this life to truly live.
We are here to reach for our potential.
We are meant to make a difference by living a truly authentic, amazing life.
Do you feel that you could be living more?
Do you feel like you could do more? … Be more?
I bet your answer is a sober … YES.
Then what are you waiting for?
If not today, then when?
I know one thing for certain.
I don’t want to be in my sunset moments of life looking back and thinking, “I wish I would have lived more.”
No way, I want to be one of those rambunctious and irrepressible centenarians looking back at life and shouting with gratitude …
“This was one freakin’ amazing ride.”
To truly living,
My wish for you …
Is that today you muster the courage to start truly living, and stop saying, “One day” but instead say TODAY.
Life Transformation and Peak Performance Expert, author, professional speaker, and global traveler. Croix is the Author of Dream Big Act Big, Dream Big Life Planner, Morning Manifestation, and the host of the Zen Warrior Podcast. He travels full time living the speaker and laptop lifestyle living part time in Costa Rica and wherever he feels like experiencing.