Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Inspiration! The top ___ things you'll regret when you're old
I just came across yet another article listing all the things I should be doing RIGHT NOW otherwise when I'm old I'll experience the terrible sting of regret. Learn a language! Travel! Dump the jerk! Go to the concerts of anyone who might be super famous later so you can tell your grandkids you saw them live! Know you're beautiful! Move on! Now!
A lot of the advice is good. We probably should end bad relationships, try to move on with life, leave the job we hate, not work too much, let go of friendships that have died, and tell people we love them. But really - do we need to do these things? Like, right now? Is potential future regret the only reason to do them? Is life supposed to be completely free of regret? Since when was a little regret a terrible thing? Don't we learn from it? Are we never allowed to make a bad choice?
Besides, who's to say that these "no regret" choices won't become regrets themselves?
For every person who quits their oppressive job to follow their dream, there is one whose creative entrepreneurship ended in bankruptcy and losing their home. For each stale relationship ended there is a couple who stuck it out through the tough parts and found deeper love and connection on the other side. For each person who "finishes what they started", there is someone slogging away at finishing a degree, job, or project out of mere obligation.
We are so obsessed with living each moment to the maximum and never experiencing sadness or regret that we're not actually allowed to relax or let things run their course or just be a human person in this moment right now.
Yes, I have some regrets. There are things I've done that I wish I hadn't, and there are opportunities I've missed. Whatever. This is life. At some point you have to make one choice, and by doing so, turn down every other potential choice. We can't just run around trying to choose ALL THE THINGS!
Instead of desperately trying to make sure I never do something I'll regret again, how about I just learn from my past and move on, trying to be a good person, trying to contribute to the world, and trying to make the best choices I can based on what seems right at the time without stressing about what 80 Year Old Andrea will think of me?
The one regret you actually want to avoid
There is only actually one thing that you will regret when you're old that is not worth it.
You will regret not having taken care of yourself, body and mind.
Our bodies are going to degenerate. Slowly, as we age, our bones become brittle, our hearts become tired, our joints get weak, and our arteries grow hard. This is inevitable. It will happen to all of us, should we live long enough.
You can't stop it, but you can put it off! Be active, stretch, drink water, and eat some vegetables. Instead of a slow, painful decline into becoming a curled-in, dried-up leaf that begins in your 60s, you can stand straight, walk by yourself, and live unassisted until your cheeks are drooping down below your shoulders.
No need to be a nut about it. Gluten is delicious and (probably) will not give you arthritis any faster than you'll already get it. Enjoy the beauty of Netflix and potato chips as well as the freedom of using your body to move through space.
Same goes for the brain. Keep learning, keep thinking, keep discussing. Try not to get too stuck in one way of thinking, and if you have tendencies towards anxiety or depression, seek help with treating it. We become more of whatever we are as we age, after all.
That's it. Everything else is just perspective.