I know, I know…it seems rather morbid to be talking about death in a food blog. But, the last month has been a vastly reflective month for me. So, here’s a spiritual ‘upgrade’ topic, if you will…. Foodies, I promise to be back with more food topics next week.
I was recently listening to a talk on “Essentialism” when I heard the author mention Bronnie Ware and her best-selling book: “The top 5 regrets of the dying”. This sounded so interesting and when I looked up more info, I realized it was such a great message…. I couldn’t resist sharing this gem and penning my additional thoughts.
Ms. Ware worked as a palliative nurse for 8 years, who counseled the dying in their last days and documented her conversations in her notebook every night.
Here’s her list of the top five regrets of the dying:
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
- I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
- I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
- I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Isn’t that a rather insightful list? ….Nobody is going to live their life 100% without regrets. But, isn’t it worth examining your life and reducing the amount of regret we all will inevitably face on our final day?
I especially want to focus on the #1 regret – the courage to live a life true to oneself. Why are so many of us unable to live a life true to ourselves?
Self-love first, courage next:
We live in a society. But society is like the ocean. Wave upon wave will hit you unless you have a plan of our own. Too often women are victims to the forces of life raining upon them. ‘Go attend this function’, ‘help out with this wedding’, ‘go assist this sick relative’ – Don’t get me wrong, these are all noble deeds that require much greater compassion than the materialistic world of money, career and power.
But too often, so many women I know and love, sacrifice their lives for the needs of others. This leads to exhaustion, feeling victimized and feeling like you have no choice in this matter.
In the video attached below, Bronnie talks about the need for self-love. These are her words and so beautiful:
“Self-love is not about not caring for other people. Self love is about caring for yourself as well. And treating yourself with the same compassion, patience and gentleness as you treat other people with.”
Having the clarity to understand that self-love ≠ selfishness is a lesson I think Indian women need to listen again and again. So, that is a good first step – Self-love people!!
Living a life true to yourself:
One of my favorite female role models is not famous – she is a very, ordinary 68-year-old American neighbor who runs an asylum for 19 dogs. Her home is a place for blind dogs, dogs with 3 legs, dogs who were about to be put down, etc. She tirelessly works 2 jobs and cuts down on all other expenses in order to take care of these dogs.
This is not a ‘sacrifice’ according to her. No one expected her or made her responsible to become a savior of these dogs. She has been rescuing dogs ever since she was 12 years old. In fact, she says – her family, her spouse, her friends – no one encouraged her to go down this path. If anything, they deterred her from choosing this lifestyle.
In our conversations, she told me that she tried her best to live a traditional life and by the norms of society. It never worked for her. Whenever I praise her for her selflessness, she brushes it off saying, “I tried, but I don’t how to live any other way.”
Isn’t that amazing? – “I don’t know how to live any other way”… While this lady may not lead the most easy or comfortable lifestyle, she listened to her heart and lives a life true to herself. How fantastic is that?
Not bowing down to expectations:
I mentioned the “Top 5 regrets..” book to my sister and told her about the #1 regret. Without skipping a beat, she replied, “I will not have that regret.” I believe her. My sister has always lived life with an open heart. She has stubbornly resisted societal pressures when it went against her gut instinct. She has the courage to say no. Very few women I know have that combination of steely courage and true compassion like her.
My sister listens to her heart.
What does your heart want?
I am not a spiritual expert. But all I want is: To encourage women to follow the voice in their heart. Forget the rules of society. Forget what people expect from you. Forget all that.
Try these 2 simple steps:
- Have the clarity to know what it is YOU want.
- Have a tiny bit of stubbornness (in this case self-love) to achieve what you want.
I just want to leave you all with a conversation I had with my sister a year ago while driving back from a grocery store.
Me: “No one cares about my blog. You, Srikanth, the family all love me. But, any work comes up – Kid falls sick, guests arrive, plan a vacation – you all expect me to forget about my blog and help with the current problem. It is not fair. I love my blog. Why do you guys not care about it?
Sister: “Do you care about your blog?”
Sister: “Then prove it by giving it the importance it deserves. Stop looking at others for constant re-affirmation.”
I got her point and to this day follow her advice.
What do you think your #1 regret is going to be? What are you going to do about it? Pen your thoughts below and join the conversation…..
P.S.: This post contains Amazon affiliate links of products I love.