What Seniors Regret Most in Life

What is your biggest regret in life?

One thousand two hundred old Americans were asked that question and their answer surprised everyone. Instead of expressing regret over a failed marriage, a business deal gone sour, substance abuse, or not doing good enough in one’s career, they said,

“I wish I hadn’t spent too much of my life worrying.”

To emphasize the point, they gave this very simple advice:

Worry is an enormous waste of your precious and limited lifetime… that worry is an unnecessary barrier to your joy and contentment.

One of the respondents of the survey, John Alonzo, 83 years old, a construction worker who battled a lifetime of financial insecurity said it bluntly:

“Don’t believe that worrying solves or helps anything. It won’t. So stop it.”

John is right. Not only does worry not solve anything, most of our worries are baseless.

According to studies, most of the things we worry about never happen. The rest can be solved easily.

It means that the things we worry about are caused by our own imagination of doom and gloom.

The irony is that “worry” is an intrinsic part of our being human. It is built into us as a means for survival. Without it, we could never evolve into what we are today.

But too much of it is wasteful and unhealthy. It can make you sick.

Nasty ways worry can affect your health:

o Increases your heartbeat;

o Induces rapid breathing;

o Makes you feel tired;

o Inability to concentrate;

o Loss of appetite;

o Indigestion;

o Sweating;

o Trembling and twitching due to nervous energy;

On the more serious side, worry can cause:

o Nausea

o Suppression of the immune system;

o Premature coronary artery disease

o Heart attack

o Depression and suicidal thoughts

Except for a few, I have experienced all these because I used to worry a lot. In more serious cases, I even thought of suicide.

The years have mellowed me down a little bit. Being old has its rewards. I still have worries (they never go away) but they are a lot less now than a few years ago.

Not only that. Now I can better deal with them by reciting a mantra I picked somewhere in the Internet.

It is:

“Sometimes the best thing you can do is not think, not worry, not imagine, and not obsess. Just breathe deeply and have faith that everything will work for the best.”

I say it when I wake up in the morning, when I go to bed at night and anytime in between when I sense worry is creeping up on me.

It works. It takes my mind off my worry and gives me hope that things will turn out for the best, which they always do.

Try it if you are a constant worrier.

But having a mantra is not doing you any good if you don’t understand what worries you, and how to cope with it.

What is worry?

It is “to feel or show fear and concern because you think that something bad has happened or could happen.”

The keyword is “think.” Psychology, however, teaches that thoughts, emotions and perceptions are often tricks of a hyperactive mind. To avoid falling into a trap, do the following each time you are worried about something

1. Live for the day, not tomorrow or thereafter:

If you are worried about what tomorrow will bring, focus on the moment. Live your life to the fullest today.

St. Mathew said:

o Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? – Matt: 6:27;

o Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own – Matt: 6:34.

2. Prepare, rather than worry:

Rather than kill yourself with worry, understand what it is you are worried about and its consequences should it happen.

Benjamin Desraeli said, “I am prepared for the worst, but hope for the best.”

Come up with different contingencies for every possible outcomes of what you are worried about. Be sure you cover all the bases so that you are well prepared to handle it should it happen.

When it is done, keep your mind off it. Go out, talk a walk, watch a movie or treat yourself to a large ice cream.

3. Get into the offensive:

A few years ago, an associate told me that our HR Manager had a beef with me.

Anybody aspiring for a promotion knows how bad it is to get the ire of the Human Resource Manager.

When I reported to work the following day, the first thing I did was storm his office and asked him, point blank, why I bug him.

That put him on the defensive. He evaded my question with a lot of lies, burying himself in his own shit even deeper.

What I did, didn’t make him like me any better, but it made him realize that I know his sentiments about me and would treat my career aspirations very carefully.

So if you are worried about something or someone, get into the offensive and find out why. I bet you, you will come out with a large smile on your face at your audacity, and of knowing that your worry is baseless.

James Huang, 87, and one of the respondents of the survey, said:

“Why? I asked myself. What possible difference did it make that I kept my mind on every little thing that might go wrong. When I realized that it made no difference at all, I experienced a freedom that is hard to describe. My life lesson is this: Turn yourself from frittering away the day worrying about what comes next and let everything else that you love and enjoy, and move on.”

To this day I could never recall any of my thousand worries happening. If some did, the consequences were not that great to make me lose some sleep.

Treat your worries the same way.