What’s Important in Life?
It’s all relative. Everyone has their own perspective. The only question here is, will the Future Old You agree with Present Day Young You?
So many people spend an unbelievable amount of time waiting for something, all the time waiting, waiting, waiting.
In the beginning of life, your mom looks forward to the day when you sleep through the night so she can sleep through the night. She waits for the day when she loses all her baby weight because, for some reason, everything’s better when you’re skinny. She’s waiting for terrible-two to pass because literally, everything that happens during terrible two is a disaster. She waits until you’re potty trained, and then in preschool because when you’re gone for a few hours, three days a week she can “get more stuff done.” Then it’s waiting for kindergarten, and then it’s when you’re in school full time, and excuses about how come none of that “stuff” ever got done, still waiting on that.
The waiting game has been passed on to you because it’s the longest time you can imagine between Christmas, Halloween, and your birthday. And let’s not forget about the last day of school and summer vacation. All you really want in life is more…something else, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. And when you’re 10 you just want to be 13. When you’re 13, you can’t wait for 16, and then 18 and 21. And then you’re all grown up and maybe by that time, your parents have mentioned how time flies, and the older you get the faster it seems to go. Despite all of that, your parents still seem to live their lives event to event, milestone to milestone, maybe vacation to vacation. And now that’s how you live your life.
What’s The Big Hurry?
Have you ever read or seen an interview with someone who was nearing the end of a long life? Maybe they’re not dying, but they are just old and 20 more years may be it for them. They’re running out of friends and their family has been reduced to a handful of grown kids and grandchildren who barely show interest in them, and great-grandchildren who actually seem afraid. Their siblings are gone; their spouse is gone. There is literally no one left who can relate to them, no one for them to relate to. All they have left are memories of a life once taken for granted, passed by in what seems the blink of an eye. They, however, have one thing we do not. The perspective of looking back at life. They decide then if they have any regrets.
Let’s be honest. By then it’s too late.
How sad is that? When I’m on my deathbed, I would like to be able to say I am happy with how I lived my life. I don’t want to be listing out regrets. And one thing I can see easily turning into a regret is all the hurrying.
I wonder if there’s anything else I could do now, to avoid regrets later?
Take Care of Yourself Now, And Teach Your Children to Do The Same
This is one of the most important things in life. After all, if you don’t take care of yourself, nobody will do it for you. In the end, if you didn’t take care of yourself, you will likely find yourself in a position you would never have planned for. Who knew it was something you could plan for? Not caring for yourself is the same as planning for a rough end. Slow death by disease, or just a simple inability to care for yourself once you reach a certain age is something you should be thinking about avoiding.
It stands to reason, if you don’t take care of yourself, life will inevitably be shorter if not just more of a struggle, lesser quality. Proof of this is everywhere you look in the world.
As young humans, we tend to do things that are harmful to our bodies because we have that literal sense of invincibility. Do you remember being 18 years old and thinking you would never be old? I do. I could not imagine the possibility of me actually being 40. No, I didn’t think I would be dead before I would turn 40, I just didn’t have the capability of imagining it. I looked great, felt great and didn’t consider there was anything I could do that would change anything about that.
Ever heard of the freshman fifteen? Supposedly, it’s just a myth referring to the 15 pounds the average freshman in college will gain. But if you look at high school seniors and then look at them a year later, it doesn’t look like a myth. And nowadays, by the looks of things, it’s more than a 15-pound problem. Have you ever wondered what that is all about? I mean, it’s not a mandate that you gain weight immediately following high school, but it does seem to be a thing.
Being overweight is not the ticket to adulthood, although at the rate it’s happening, you would think it was. Rapid weight gain in young adults is the result of poor eating, and exercise habits, potentially mixed with the addition of smoking, drinking, and poor sleeping habits. Metabolism slows down when you are full grown and inactive (i.e. sitting a lot). Your body can no longer maintain that youthful appearance of health without some extra effort from you. Society is not used to making an extra effort and this concept is confusing. People are oblivious to the need because when the importance of health is not emphasized, and it’s socially acceptable to ignore the tiny red flags that you need to make a change, how can everyone be wrong?
This is not a crisis, but it is the beginning of something. Will this lead to the continuation of bad habits, or be a wake-up call to take care of yourself. Too many people will take offense to this notion, conveniently so, for the time being. Just remember, when you’re 18, it’s nowhere near too late to start taking care of yourself! When you’re listing out regrets as a 70-year-old, it might be.
So, why are old people saying, I wish I’d taken better care of myself, but as young adults, we cannot comprehend taking action to actually do it before it’s a problem? It’s so easy to regret. But, is that what you want for yourself? For your kids?
Look at the freshman fifteen. Rapid weight gain in young adults is simply a reaction to lifestyle and didn’t start at 18. Before someone jumps on me, let me acknowledge that the freshman 15 isn’t a negative for everyone. There are the skinny kids, for whom, this is the final growth spurt that pushes them into the adult-sized body. But as a society, graduating high school as a skinny kid is becoming less and less common. Kids are overweight right from the beginning nowadays. As a parent, it is your responsibility to realize that you and your children will be old one day and act accordingly. Nobody wants to be taking care of their incapable parents, and now we know it’s possible to prevent that from happening.
How many vibrant 90-year-olds have you known? There have been some. What’s the difference between them and the ones who are bedridden during the last years of life? Old people have been asked what they regret about life. Not caring for oneself is at the top of the list.
Teaching the dangers of overindulgence, whether it’s eating, drinking, smoking, or anything that can negatively affect health later in life is your responsibility. No, you don’t have to limit everything. You just have to make your child aware, and be aware as a parent. Teach by example. You don’t have to be perfect, but it has been proven, your kids will do what you do. This is better done when they are in their twenties and thirties than regretted in their eighties and nineties.
Take care of yourself.
Choose Your Battles
Stress and anxiety are the ball and chain that some people carry for life. It’s as hard to put down as it is to completely change who you are. Stress comes with the territory when you’re a parent. A lot of this has to do with personality, maybe even most. Some parents are more carefree and don’t let the little things bother them. And some are bothered to the point of considering whether or not it’s possible that they are OCD. With so many things in life to worry about, I’ll suggest you consider choosing your battles.
I have struggled with the little things throughout my whole life. From as far back as my first memory, I remember being stressed that my little sister would mess up my stuff. So I never let her play with anything of mine. I didn’t really share anything and ultimately got labeled as stingy. I didn’t care. We would play dolls and I would convince her that we should put makeup on her dolls and cut her dolls’ hair, but not mine. From then on, I was very particular about my stuff. I wanted everything just so.
This source of unnecessary stress continued for me, into adulthood. And today it’s clear that I have passed it on to my kids. It wasn’t until I was able to observe my oldest, Zach, now 22, doing the same things I had done that I realized he was just like me. I hadn’t realized personalities were inherited. It wasn’t until he was almost 18 that I realized, his personality was most definitely not inherited, it was taught. No, you’re right, that’s a lot of realizing.
By that time, I’d had 4 more children, who’d had enough years of observing me and my particularness. Joey, 6 at the time, was definitely exhibiting the signs of following in my footsteps. It was then I knew I had to make some changes, even if it might be too late for Zach.
As an adult, I was nutty! Obviously, I am still an adult, the difference now being, I am working on it. If I made a list of all the stuff that bothered me up until a few years ago, you would probably recommend intensive counseling. I am most grateful that I have been able to get a better focus on what’s important in life and realize that it is not the little things that use to bother me.
I still make people take their shoes off when they come in my house. But I no longer keep my kids from cleaning the bathroom because I can do it better. I used to avoid letting them help because they were messy and did everything wrong. Now, I know how important mistake-making is to growing up, and learning how to exist in the world.
Through my experiences, I have learned that life should be cherished and appreciated each and every single day. Not just on holidays, birthdays and vacations. I still have to make a conscience effort when it comes to choosing my battles, but some things I have learned to accept and I love that.
Joey continues to be a work in progress, but he has also learned to appreciate some things that used to bother him. I have been reminding him that people matter, not things, and this has helped more than anything. While Zach continues to be a perfectionist, through my continued lecturing (nagging, as I’m sure he sees it) whenever I observe behavior that strains his relationships, I have seen small changes in him as well. I am not worried about him. I have no doubt that he will eventually decide that some battles are just not worth fighting.
People Matter, Not Things
Having things is fun, entertaining even. But at the end, it doesn’t matter.
When you’re dead, how will people remember you? Is that something you care about? Is it something you should care about? Will you leave behind family and friends who have kind words for the person they remember? Hopefully, that’s a long time off, but, for some perspective, let’s talk about whether or not it’s possible you’ll be remembered for how green and well manicured you kept your lawn, or how big your house was, or your beauty or style. Is that how you want to be remembered? If it is, then, by all means, keep on. To be clear, as always, I hold no judgment, and I genuinely believe everyone has a right to their own legacy.
If you want to be remembered for your beauty or wealth, then your goals should align with making that happen. I’ll only encourage you to consider if it will all have been worth it when you are on your death bed. Will you feel like you’ve come full circle? Will you be ready to move on to whatever’s next, knowing you’ll be remembered as the woman who owned the nicest car in the neighborhood?
Do What Makes You Happy
Although it may seem like it, life is not a competition. LIFE isn’t a competition. It’s life. You live it, and you do what you want to do…or do you?
While it’s good to be competitive in sports and work because as we all know, hard work pays off, that being satisfaction/enjoyment/success, life itself is not a competition. Whatever it is if it doesn’t make you happy, why are you doing it?
Who cares what anyone thinks of you. What is the point of keeping up with your neighbors, co-workers, acquaintances, even family members? If it makes you happy to one-up everyone, ask yourself what is missing from your life. I’m sure there is some deep, complex reason this competitive instinct exists for so many. But, what will this lead to? What will this get you out of life? It’s just too bad people don’t realize sooner what a giant waste of time all this competition is, how much it robs you of being you and doing your own thing.
Why do people choose to do things in life that make them unhappy? I know I have done it to some extent.
Choosing a career should get huge consideration with regard to your happiness. Will you still like it after doing it for 20 years? You better hope you do. To me, it just doesn’t make any sense to spend most of your life doing something you don’t love.
Excuses Lead To Regrets. Eventually, It Really Will Be Too Late To Live Your Dream Life
So why not start before it seems impossible. If you’re in your 40s or 50s, maybe even your 60s, you may already have some regret about your life thus far. It’s not too late, yet. Whatever it is that you want to do, do it now!
Admit Mistakes. Learn From Them. Move On. Do Better.
As humans, we all make mistakes all the time. Free will gives us the power to make conscious decisions about life. Most of us will leave a trail of mistakes behind us. If you’re unable to get past a particularly big mistake, you will be unable to learn from it and move on. Making mistakes is part of life and growth and shouldn’t be a part of any regret you have at the end of your life, but likely will be if you cannot admit when you are wrong, learn from that experience, move on, and then do better.
Don’t Take Yourself So Seriously
Loosen up. Your life will not be perfect, but most of the problems won’t actually be as bad as you will make them out to be.
Never Stop Learning. You Don’t Know Everything
Young people really do act like they know everything. For the purposes of this article, I’ll humbly include myself in the category of people I describe as young, although I pride myself on the ability to admit that I, in fact, do not know everything. I definitely used to think I did, and I have some adult children who now exhibit the signs of the smug know-it-all on occasion. Something I didn’t learn until probably in the past ten years, is that it is impossible to know it all. You might be the smartest person in the room, but nobody needs to know that you think you are. Listen to the people around you. And when you’ve heard them, listen some more. Read things that interest you and have conversations. It will be a cold day in hell before you actually know everything.
Treat Friends And Family Like They Are Everything
Because they are. In life, people matter.
Toxic People Do Not Belong In Your Life
Maintaining toxic relationships encourages you to hold on to anger, resentment, and bitterness. If you have a friend who doesn’t fit the description of a friend, cut ties.
Express Your Feelings
This is something you may be able to relate to right now when it comes to regret. Have you had a friend or relative die and all you could think about is that you didn’t get the chance to say goodbye, or tell them how much they meant to you? This is something you cannot undo, and the pain never goes away. No, it’s not constant, but it will be there for the rest of your life. If you love people, let them know.
Don’t Compare Yourself To Others
While it’s true, your neighbor might be comparing and competing with you, it’s not going to add up to anything good. Social media has become the new way people advertise themselves, which has put a lot more focus on the importance of what people think of each other. I haven’t seen any death bed regrets relating to past facebook/youtube posts, but I’m sure they are coming.
Comparing yourself to others also seems to be on the rise due to the advent of social media. Now comparing yourself to the Joneses is as easy as logging into facebook and getting a look at their personal marketing campaign. This advertising is similar to how their perfect lawn and in person presentations used to represent them. The difference is, now you only see what they want you to see, and sometimes it is not even an accurate reflection. What’s the point here?
A generation of people trying to keep up, and one-up a bunch of fake representations of life. Is this sad social media existence going to be something you look back at and smile about? That’s not your life. Don’t go comparing your life to someone else’s (real or fake) life. Do things the way you like, because it’s what you like. Period.
Don’t waste time trying to be someone else. Your life is not about trying to live up to anyone’s standards but your own. Your parents, in-laws, friends, etc., have no right to expect anything but you from you. You weren’t born to be anyone but you. One of the biggest deathbed regrets is people not having confidence in themselves. Confidence only requires you to believe in yourself, and that’s easy.
A lifetime spent living up to someone else’s expectations is a life wasted.
Have Confidence. Be Yourself.
Having a bucket list is a personal choice, not a necessity in life.
I’m an introvert. I’m not extremely adventurous and until recently, I hadn’t accepted that when it comes to bucket lists, mine would probably be boring compared to my extroverted, adventure seeking friends and family. In another effort to maintain truth to self, I have realized that I have no desire to travel the world. I have no desire to skydive, or bungee jump, or even party in Vegas (although I wouldn’t mind checking it out, once). I won’t say I have no interest in taking a few exotic family vacations (outside the norm). But, I don’t think it would ever be as extreme as an African Safari, or hiking up a mountain.
I don’t have a bucket list, but if I did, this blog would be on it.
Live YOUR Life