As we think about what we are going to write on the pages of a new year, the following might be of use. A friend of mine shared a wonderful idea about the New Year and it is something that Karen and I will be doing. He recommended that we get a large jar that will be known as our "blessing jar." Starting in January, we will write down the experiences we think have been a blessing, fun, and inspiring. Put the slips in the jar. At the end of the year, we will open the jar and read what we have written. Sometimes, it is easy to forget to appreciate the good times in our life, our marriage, and family so this is a wonderful way to remember how blessed we have been.
On a different note, I would like to share a column that helps us make the most of this year by learning from the wisdom of other people. I came across an article written by a nurse who worked with dying patients. She listed their five most popular regrets.
1) I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
The nurse said this was the most common regret. She went on to say that when people realize that their life is almost over, they reflect back over their lives. They regrettably see how many dreams were left unfulfilled. The nurse said that most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and died knowing that it was because of the choices they had made or not made.
This reminds me of a line from the movie Out of Africa. The line was, "I don't want to get to the end of my life and realize that I lived someone else's dream." Marlo Thomas, an actress and daughter of Danny Thomas, was going to star in her own television series. She told her father that she loved him but wished she wasn't the daughter of such a famous star. She felt that being his daughter, people would judge her more harshly. He told her, "Run your own race." We need to listen and value what others suggest but the bottom line is to be true to ourselves and run our own race.
2) I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
One of my ministerial friends told me towards the end of his life that he wished he had kept up with his friends. He got so busy with his career and family that the friendships that he came to value later were gone. Now, he was at the time of his life when these friendships could be so meaningful - especially, after his wife died.
Next month we will continue with the other regrets and how we can use them.
Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through www.amazon.com.
Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700