The road to hell is paved with good intentions

What’s your biggest regret about your life so far? What would you like to change?

If you've read a book entitled 'The Top Five Regrets of the Dying' by a nurse working in palliative care called Bronnie Ware, you may have already asked yourself these questions.

Perhaps you haven't read her book, but maybe these are things you have thought about anyway, in those dark moments of remorse and despair we can all experience.

The top five regrets are perhaps not what you’d expect:

  • 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.

These regrets speak to me about the choices we make, or maybe about not recognising how the path we choose can lead us in the wrong direction. 

We often forget that we have choice.

So we end up doing what’s expected instead of what we really love, spending too much of our time working and missing out on what’s happening around us, hanging on to bitterness and resentment when we could just let it go.

Happiness is a choice.

Yes, really!  The latest research in the fields of positive psychology and neuroscience reveal that there are things that we can do to help ourselves be happier: focusing on the positive, being grateful for what we have, meditating, are some of the actions we can take and choices we can make to help ourselves (and the people in our lives) be happier.

As Bronnie Ware said in a blog post about her book: "Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content."

Discovering the power of making positive choices is fantastically liberating - it's a way of moving towards happiness and away from regret.  Stepping off the road of our good intentions (and of other people’s expectations) and onto our own path towards happiness is one of the things coaching can really help with - and something you won't regret.

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