Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Regret and screwing the gremlin

Two blog posts in a row! My new plan to come home and blog before I get trapped in front of the TV has so far been successful. Beautiful.

With the anniversary of my friend's death this week, which I blogged about last night, I've been reflecting on making the most of this life we're all living together. A friend recently forwarded me a link to an article from the UK where a nurse had recorded the five most common regrets of the dying. The article is based on a book aptly titled The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. She wrote the book after blogging about patient's dying epiphanies.

Number one regret? I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. It's so simple. Frankly, they all were...

2) I wish I hadn't worked so hard
3) I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings
4) I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
5) I wish that I had let myself be happier

I admit that I was mostly feeling good about where I'm at when I read the list. When I read the list again a little closer, the two areas I will probably always have to be careful of are not working so hard, and having the courage to express my feelings. Ironically, these were both topics of a blog post I wrote back in February 2011 called Decisions, Decisions.

I've been really focusing on the expression of feelings part as well. Ironically, I've always been relatively articulate, and never shied away from talking about hard subjects...but when it came to feelings I always sounded like a jackass because, frankly, I didn't even really understand how I felt. Now that I can sort through what I'm feeling, I'm getting better and better at coming out with it. I've got a few examples, with one that's quite recent that I think you'll be interested to hear about...but it'll need it's own post so I'll hold back. You may now wait with baited breath!

So back to this whole working-too-hard thing? Since returning from my sabbatical, I haven't worked a single weekend (um, but don't tell anyone that, k?) and I'm consistently home by 6 (you'll have to trust me that this is, in fact, an improvement). But is that what this is really about? Hours? This intersection of happiness and career has always interested me. Should we search our whole lives for the career that fulfills us? Or should we treat work like just a job, and use it to maximize our "real" life outside of the hours of 9 to 5 (okay, who am I kidding...outside the hours of 8 to 6...still an improvement)? Does work make us happy? Or does being happy make us successful at work?

I'm reading a lot of interesting stuff about this. As I'm typing there are like five things I want to share with you. But then I'll be screwed the rest of the week with nothing to blog about. But I will share with you one of my favorite TEDTalks of late by Shawn Achor. It's only twelve minutes and you have to watch it. It's brilliant. Seriously. You need to watch it. Right. Now. You're already reading the blog, what's another twelve minutes. I'll still be here when you get back...

Okay, so eight minutes and fourteen seconds in he says this: only 25% of job successes are predicted by IQ. 75% of job successes are predicted by your optimism levels, your social support, and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of as a threat. Well if that isn't a business case for being happy, I don't know what is! This guy's got me thinking a lot about this whole concept of positive psychology.

I'll close with my favorite regret from the list; I wish I had let myself be happier. As I reflect on the last year, which began with my return from sabbatical in April 2011, I feel so incredibly grateful that I've let myself be happy - and not feel guilty about it. I've always been a risk taker; a cliff jumper; a challenger of the status quo. But there's always that sneaky little shit of a gremlin deep down challenging whether or not I deserve it. Well, screw you, gremlin. I am happy and I do deserve it ;)

When your time is up, will you have made the most out of this life? I hope so...'cause I hear you only get the one.

Hasta, sabbaticaljo

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