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In a US–based study, dying people were asked about their regrets, if any. The top five regrets were:
- I wish I had the courage to live a life I wanted to live and not what others expected me to live.
- I wish I had worked harder.
- I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
- I wish I had let myself to be happier.
Regrets are always based on suppression of emotions or non–fulfillment of desires and needs. These need-based desires can be at the level of physical body, mind, intellect, ego or the soul. Therefore, regrets can be at any of these levels.
I did a survey of 15 of my patients and asked them a simple question that if they come to know that they are going to die in next 24 hours, what would be their biggest regret.
Only one of them, a doctor said that she would have no regrets.
Only one person expressed a physical regret and that was from a Yoga expert who said that her regret was not getting married till that day.
Mental regrets were two.
- A state trading businessman said, "I wish I could have taken care of my parents."
- A homeopathic doctor said, "I wish I could have given more time to my family."
Intellectual regrets were three.
- A lawyer said, "I wish I could have become something in life."
- A businessman said, "I wish I could have helped more people."
- A retired revenue inspector said, "I wish I had married off my younger child."
Egoistic regrets were two.
- One fashion designer said, "I wish I could have become a singer."
- A housewife said, "I wish I could have become a dietician."
Spiritual regrets were six.
- A Consultant Government Liaison officer said, "I wish I could have made my family members happy."
- A businessman said, "I wish I could have meditated more."
- A Homeopathic doctor said, "I wish I could have spent more time with my family."
- A reception executive said, "I wish I could have spent more time with my parents."
- An entertainment CEO said, "I wish I could have taken my parents for a pilgrimage."
- A fashion designer said, "I wish I could have worked more for the animals."
In a very popular and successful movie, Kal Ho Na Ho, the hero was to die in the next 40 days. When asked to remember the days of his life, he could not remember 20 ecstatic instances in life.
This is what happens with each one of us where we waste all our days and cannot remember more than 50 or even 20 of such instances. If we are given 40 days to live and if we live every day ecstatically, we can get inner happiness. Therefore, we should learn to live in the present instead of having a habit of postponing everything we do.
We should learn to prioritize our work and do difficult work first or else we would be in a state of constant worry till that work is over.
I teach my patients that they should practice confession exercise and one confession is to talk about your regrets and take them as challenge and finish before the next Tuesday. When working, there are three things which are to be remembered – passion, profession and fashion. Profession is at the level of mind, ego and spirit.
We should convert our profession in such a manner that it is fashionable and passionate. Passion means working from the heart and profession means working from mind and intellect and fashion means working the same at the level of ego which is based on show–off.(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).