I think it's brilliant advice to live your life in such a manner that when you look back upon it from your deathbed you will feel no regrets.
But I also think it's easy to misinterpret this guidance. I often hear people using it to torment themselves because they don't have the courage, resources, or wherewithal to change careers, leave a relationship, backpack through Europe, or make art in a cottage by the sea, and they feel they are cheating themselves somehow -- that they will look back later at these roads not taken with regret.
But what if the "no regrets" advice is actually much cheaper and easier to implement?
What if instead it involves holding nothing back from each moment -- giving deeply and completely of ourselves with no tricks, no games, no parceling out of love and affection, no tallying of reciprocity, and no strategizing? Just a full on 100% offering of ourselves to whatever and whoever is in front of us, even if it's not the person, place, or situation of our dreams.
By giving, I don't mean emptying your wallet to the homeless guy on the street corner, although perhaps that will feel right to some of you in some situations.
Instead I mean offering your unique gifts -- your attention, your affection, your compassion and concern, your insight, your creativity -- without regard for what will come back to you in return. Basically, you stop keeping score.
So instead of waiting to say "I love you" until they say it first, you free yourself to speak your heart.
Instead of turning away every client who can't afford your fee, you dedicate some space in your schedule for pro bono work.
Instead of waiting angrily for someone to apologize, you initiate the healing conversation yourself.
Wanna know what I suspect people regret the most at the end? Holding back
love and kindness.
It's almost as if when we care and refuse to allow ourselves to express it in some
way or another, our ungiven love stagnates inside us and becomes toxic to our system.
That's easy to fix! Give love now, where you are, while you still can. And when you do, I'm betting those other things you worried about regretting -- the career, relationship, cottage, etc. -- will reveal themselves to be remarkably insignificant.