Six years ago I heard a talk by Dieter F. Uchtdorf called “Of Regrets And Resolutions” that impacted my life tremendously. I had pulled portions and excerpts from this talk (as the full talk was a little long to post in my blog) and shared them back in 2012. Today I happened to be looking over past blogs and this talk came up – reading again impacted me just as strongly today as it had back then. It contains some of the most powerful advice I’ve ever heard:
“When we are young, it seems that we will live forever. We think there is a limitless supply of sunrises waiting just beyond the horizon, and the future looks to us like an unbroken road stretching endlessly before us.
However, the older we get, the more we tend to look back and marvel at how short that road really is. We wonder how the years could have passed so quickly. And we begin to think about the choices we made and the things we have done. In the process, we remember many sweet moments that give warmth to our souls and joy to our hearts. But we also remember the regrets—the things we wish we could go back and change.
A nurse who cares for the terminally ill says that she has often asked a simple question of her patients as they prepared to depart this life.
“Do you have any regrets?” she would ask.
Perhaps the most universal regret dying patients expressed was that they wished they had spent more time with the people they love.
Isn’t it true that we often get so busy? And, sad to say, we even wear our busyness as a badge of honor, as though being busy, by itself, was an accomplishment or sign of a superior life.
In our day it is easy to merely pretend to spend time with others. With the click of a mouse, we can “connect” with thousands of “friends” without ever having to face a single one of them. Technology can be a wonderful thing, and it is very useful when we cannot be near our loved ones. My wife and I live far away from precious family members; we know how that is. However, I believe that we are not headed in the right direction, individually and as a society, when we connect with family or friends mostly by reposting humorous pictures, forwarding trivial things, or linking our loved ones to sites on the Internet. I suppose there is a place for this kind of activity, but how much time are we willing to spend on it? If we fail to give our best personal self and undivided time to those who are truly important to us, one day we will regret it.
Let us resolve to cherish those we love by spending meaningful time with them, doing things together, and cultivating treasured memories.
Another regret people expressed was that they failed to become the person they felt they could and should have been. When they looked back on their lives, they realized that they never lived up to their potential, that too many songs remained unsung.
Another regret of those who knew they were dying may be somewhat surprising. They wished they had let themselves be happier.
So often we get caught up in the illusion that there is something just beyond our reach that would bring us happiness: a better family situation, a better financial situation, or the end of a challenging trial.
The older we get, the more we look back and realize that external circumstances don’t really matter or determine our happiness.
We do matter. We determine our happiness.
You and I are ultimately in charge of our own happiness.
My wife, Harriet, and I love riding our bicycles. It is wonderful to get out and enjoy the beauties of nature. We have certain routes we like to bike, but we don’t pay too much attention to how far we go or how fast we travel in comparison with other riders.
However, occasionally I think we should be a bit more competitive. I even think we could get a better time or ride at a higher speed if only we pushed ourselves a little more. And then sometimes I even make the big mistake of mentioning this idea to my wonderful wife.
Her typical reaction to my suggestions of this nature is always very kind, very clear, and very direct. She smiles and says, “Dieter, it’s not a race; it’s a journey. Enjoy the moment.”
How right she is!
Sometimes in life we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to find joy in the journey. I don’t go cycling with my wife because I’m excited about finishing. I go because the experience of being with her is sweet and enjoyable.
Doesn’t it seem foolish to spoil sweet and joyful experiences because we are constantly anticipating the moment when they will end?
Do we listen to beautiful music waiting for the final note to fade before we allow ourselves to truly enjoy it? No. We listen and connect to the variations of melody, rhythm, and harmony throughout the composition.
We shouldn’t wait to be happy until we reach some future point, only to discover that happiness was already available—all the time! Life is not meant to be appreciated only in retrospect.
No matter our circumstances, no matter our challenges or trials, there is something in each day to embrace and cherish. There is something in each day that can bring gratitude and joy if only we will see and appreciate it.
Perhaps we should be looking less with our eyes and more with our hearts. I love the quote: “One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.”
So isn’t it better to see with our eyes and hearts even the small things we can be thankful for, rather than magnifying the negative in our current condition?
Let us resolve to be happy, regardless of our circumstances.
One day we will take that unavoidable step and cross from this mortal sphere into the next estate. One day we will look back at our lives and wonder if we could have been better, made better decisions, or used our time more wisely.
To avoid some of the deepest regrets of life, it would be wise to make some resolutions today. Therefore, let us:
•Resolve to spend more time with those we love.
•Resolve to strive more earnestly to become the person God wants us to be.
•Resolve to find happiness, regardless of our circumstances.”
-Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Make the three resolutions! If you do it will not only change your lives, it will also change the lives of the people you love! Have a fantastic weekend!
~Amy Rees Anderson