Way back in 1981 there was this movie that I watched at the theater called the New Olympia. The name of the movie was “Whose Life Was It Anyway”, and believe me there were only about 8 people in the cinema. Actually, the movie made a loss of around US$ 5million; it was produced in 1981 at a cost of US$13 million, and it only collected US$ 8.2 million in the box office. Hence it was a massive loss. But it got me thinking. The movie was about a man who was suffering from a terminal illness and was dying. The hospital authorities kept him alive with the aid of a machine. The patient was asking the doctors to take him off the machine and let him die, but the doctors said. “No, we cannot”. So he was arguing and even went to court in the movie to get the courts to order the hospital to take him off the machine and to let him die. He was asking “whose life is it anyway”.
While in the movie the whole court proceedings got me thinking as to whose life do we really live? Whose manifest is it that we really reflect in our lives? Knowingly or unknowingly, consciously or subconsciously we find people imposing expectations on us.
There is a very interesting book written by Bronnie Ware. She authored a book named, ‘The Top 5 Regrets of The Dying’. Very interesting findings with the topmost regret of the people dying identified as saying“I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself”.I wish I had lived a life that was true to me, means they were living someone else’s manifest. When you try to live what someone else is expecting from you, you don’t bother to discover your potential and as a result, you end up living under potential and then you look back at your life and say“oh hell! What have I done with my life?”
The second one is“I wish I hadn’t worked hard”.People were saying they were putting so much into work and they did not have the time to live. Aren’t we all at what we call our ‘peak’ and guilty of this? We miss out on time with our children, watch them grow, miss out time with nature and most importantly we miss out time with ourselves.
The third regret they had was,“I wish I had the courage to express my feelings”. How many times we hold back being absolutely candid and open about expressing our feelings because we are scared it will affect relationships, we’re scared to be seen crazy, we’re scared to be ridiculed by people, so we don’t express our feelings. Isn’t it better for one to be true to him or herself than trying to please someone else?
The fourthregret being, “I wish I stayed in touch with our friends”, which we all know would result in more laughter. Think about it; really ask yourself how many minutes in a day there is (which is 24X60 minutes) and how much do you spend of that time each day to laugh! You don’t really look at life and what it does to your system when you laugh.
And the fifth regret of the dying people is,“I wish that I helped myself to be happier”. Now think about that line. We see lives of people who are rich, who are ‘well to do’, and we envy them thinking that they are happy. Some of these people, who said that I wish I was happier,were filthy rich people so it’s not wealth that makes you happy. If you go back on the entire equation of happiness, you’re asking, “What is it that I have missed out in my life? As you look back, your happiness is when you took all the chances that helped you learn what makes you happy. If you have missed out when you look back then you regret that. We look back only to find how many chances we missed out not physically but more in wisdom, more in capacity, more in humanity and more in value for life. How much of those have we missed out, we look back with regret. And how much have we achieved – here achievement is to your potential. Often achievement is looked at materialistically. As a result, live a material life and you think you have achieved everything when you have a couple of houses, fancy vehicles and traveletc.etc..But then people, who did all that,are the ones who looked back at their lives and said “I haven’t lived happily”.
So what then manifest happiness?
When you don’t live your potential, then you ought to become self-aware that you have not made use of what you could really do to humanity; that you have not made use of the opportunity to optimize your human potential; that you have not made use of every touch point to make a difference to somebody else’s life. To me that is what achievement is all about. We look back(if we bother to) and regret that “I have missed out on my learning opportunities; I have missed out on my growth opportunities; I have missed out on my achieving opportunities.”
When this happens, you live a regretful life. Because, when you look back you ask as to whose life did you live? See, most of the people who impose on you and expect you to do something, who are those have failed to achieve it. We sometimes do this to our children. We try to get them to do what we have failed to achieve. It’s unfair sometimes to impose onto our children things beyond what they want to do or beyond what they like to do and more dangerously, beyond what the child is capable of doing. I know of parents who take their children for almost every possible extra-curricular activity. When they wake up on a Saturday morning they start with swimming then ballet then music then singing then with sports. Where is that child’s childhood? Why are we programming them to do what we want instead of giving them the time to enjoy their childhood? Let’s ask ourselves -our awaken selves as to whose life are we living. Every time, (I mean you will have a number of times) people are trying to impose things on you and if you’re conscious you will capture that and then you pause, you listen and you ask what is exactly that this guy wants. More importantly you would have the audacity to say, ‘hello, this is not what I want to do’, ‘this is not what I’m made to do’. ‘This is not what I look back as an accomplishment’. ‘This is not helping my growth’.‘This is not helping me achieve my potential’. ‘This is not helping me learn’.
If we can pause and ask this, we begin to align our actions on a daily basis as to what our life is all about and what our lives can become. We always live the life as it comes but what we ought to be awakened to live the life that we can truly become because there’s so much unfound within us. So if you awaken yourself to yourself and then identify where you have lost your opportunity to learn, where you have lost your opportunity to grow, where you have lost your opportunity to achieve potential to yourself then you are living your life.
My thought for,or rather the challenge to you is to ask yourself whose life is it anyway. Remember the movie I talked about earlier. You can’t even take your own life when people say “no, it’s not your life”. Go get hold of yourself, get hold of Bronnie Ware’s book if you can. Have a look at that book which is available online and see that you don’t die with regrets because we have only one life. We need to look back with a sense of accomplishments that we lived a life true to ourselves. Hope it makes sense, hope it got you thinking, hope it’ll awaken you, and make you Bold to live YOUR life.
BY: Bradley Emerson