Last year, palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware’s blog post (and book) The 5 Regrets of the Dying was read by millions.
It is regret number one that has stuck with me the most:
“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
It begs the daily (and hourly!) question:
How do I live a life that is true to me in this moment?
Perhaps this is the question of a well-lived life. But it is not an easy question to live, not in my experience.
In the last month, living a life that is true to me has meant:
- Canceling a long-planned trip to visit old friends because my mom needs me close right now.
- Having a difficult conversation with my daughter that included much tears and ended in her leaving home to go back to school a week early.
- Facing into my shadow comforts and time monsters again and facing, again, where I leave my own life and choose numbness.
- Walking away from unhealthy comparisons to other teachers to focus back on my work and what feels true for me to teach.
- Seeing my mom’s bruised and battered face after she fell and hit the coffee table, after drinking too much.
To live your truth is a s/heroic quest. The personal growth world might paint it with a rosy brush of almost endless moments of bliss, but that’s a dangerous lie that actually can lead you astray – thinking that if it doesn’t always feel good, maybe you aren’t “supposed” to be doing it. Hogwash.
Living your true life is an often gritty, risky, lonely venture, but it is also where deep satisfaction and aliveness live. It’s where and when you become alive. It’s where something shining and magnificent can arise, even though no one else may ever see it.
To live your true life is to ask yourself, “What is the worth of my life? What do I believe? What matters to me?”
To forsake easy answers and one-size-fits-all solutions.
To stop following anything or anyone blindly, to take back your projections, to step off the pedestal yourself.
To face the parts of yourself that are ugly, vicious, petty, and shallow because truth is only possible through wholeness.
To live your true life is to turn away from the clamor of the world and the wishes of your personality.
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That last one is particularly difficult for me. I had lunch last summer with three very accomplished people and the conversation turned to that maddening question, “What’s next for you?” The plans shared were mighty impressive, and when it was my turn, I said, “To enjoy my life.”
I went on to explain I didn’t have any big plans, no book to write or TED talk to prepare for. Nothing clear was calling to me except (except!) to be present and grateful. Let me be very clear: I so wanted a big plan to share! I so did not like their polite, “Oh that sounds lovely,” but it was my truth, in that moment.
What do you think? This inquiry about how to live your true life has me in its grip, and it’s certainly the through line of my upcoming course. Talk to me in the comments below.
P.S. Please stop by my video Q & A chat on Spreecast later today (4 pm Pacific/7 pm Eastern). Any and all questions about the course, the sampler class, and The Life Organizer book, so be sure to join us right here. There will be treats, and dogs, and surprises!
I know you might be inundated with class options this time of year, so I want to make sure you don’t miss out on my very special course that will teach you how to manage and prevent those feelings of overwhelm! I so hope you’ll join me on the journey.