I think the only advice I can give you on how to live your life well is, first off, remember… it’s not the things we do in life that we regret on our deathbed, it is the things we do not. — Randy Pausch
Randy expresses something that I have heard from very many people in my life, but what does it really mean? Did they regret not doing a certain something, or was it just a generalized playing it too safe?
Most of the time it was because they were busy being responsible to real people and fighting through life’s very real challenges. It’s an odd thing to regret.
Sometimes, though, you look a little closer, peel off a layer or two and then see what you find. What we (or at least I) usually find is that much inaction may be caused by fear – fear of failure, fear of change, fear of doing something new and different.
And fear is an interesting thing. It is genetically coded into our DNA. Early on, those who did not fear were the first eaten or killed. Flight or fight (driven by fear) was an effective survival instinct.
So what happened? Human existence changes.
Today we have a virtual cadre of self proclaimed life coach – gurus proclaiming their gospel of prosperity, “living the dream”. Abrahams Maslow’s heirarchy of needs with self-actualization at the top is alive and well. Freedom itself is now equated with this innate human need for self-actualization.
Possibly, though, if we would look at the entire hierarchy, we might have a little more understanding and compassion for others and ourselves in a more holistic and complete humanity. In the four levels below self-actualization, we find these needs:
4- Esteem. prestige and accomplishment
3- Belongingness and love
2 – Safety and security
1- Food, water, warmth and rest
Interestingly, this is the stuff of all our news lately, or should I say, the lack of this stuff. I personally would like to spend more effort at the bottom of the list and help others work up through the levels. I think at least for me, it’s the only way I’m gonna make it to that 5th level. And it’s the only way for humanity ultimately to survive.
Maybe then we can legitimately say to each other: “It’s the fear; let go of the fear; I got your back; dare to live the dream.” And mean it for everyone, not just the elite few.