Journey vs. Destination: regrets

One of the most common deathbed regrets is: I wish I had let myself be happier.

Doesn’t that thought just make you ache? I know it does me. It causes a near-physical pain.

Because notice it says “I wish I had let myself be happier.”

  • Had let myself be present instead of busy
  • Had let myself appreciate the small joys
  • Had let myself be grateful for all I had
  • Had let myself enjoy the journey of each day

If there’s an upside to knowing about this all-too-common end-of-life regret, it’s this: You still have time to do something about it.

When I think about how this regret might show up and take root, three scenarios come to mind. Do any of these resonate?

Destination versus journey.

Are you all about the destination and rarely about the journey?

A destination might be getting the promotion at work or earning a certain amount of money. Getting married or the kids going off to college. Reaching a certain level of success in your business or seeing a certain number on the scale.

These may all be worthy destinations to want and work toward. But are you enjoying the journey of getting there? Because if it’s all about arriving at some goal off in the distance, then you miss out on the day-to-day of life that happens getting there.

And let’s face it: Most of life is journey, not destination. Will you wish you had let yourself be happier on the journey, not just when you arrived at those sought-after destinations?

Overflowing plate syndrome.

Do you put so much on your plate that you can’t possibly do it all? Do you take on too much to the point you can’t really do any of it well—and certainly none of it with ease?

When you put too much on your To Do list and say yes to too many commitments, the day-to-day becomes a never-ending slog.

And it’s no surprise that happy can be hard to find when you’re overwhelmed, just getting through the day, running from one errand to the next, always a little behind, never really feeling like your best self.

You are capable and competent. But when you put too much on your plate, you end up feeling inadequate. More stressed than successful. More harried than happy.

Let’s face it: Living depleted is not a natural state. Will you wish you had let yourself be happier by saying no more often, putting less on your plate, and choosing ease over struggle?

Discontent, don’t have, don’t like, don’t want.

Do you have a bad relationship with contentment? Are you on the outs with gratitude?

Instead, have you let yourself get cozy with discontent? When you look at your life, is it through the half empty glass of what you don’t have, don’t like, and don’t want?

  • I don’t have enough money. I don’t have the latest iPhone.
  • I don’t like my job. I don’t like my outdated kitchen.
  • I don’t want to be out of shape. I don’t want to be in debt.

It’s hard to find happy focused on don’t have, don’t like, don’t want. It’s time to move beyond the energy drain of discontent.

Start appreciating. It’s amazing the shift in energy when you go from focusing on what you don’t have to what you do.

Let’s face it: Gratitude is a happiness boost. Will you wish you had let yourself be happier by seeing the glass half full and choosing gratitude over grievances?

Will you someday regret that you didn’t let yourself be happier? What will you do today so that doesn’t happen?