There is a mental exercise that I have been doing once in a while for many years now; it’s one of the most powerful exercises I’ve ever known. I consider seriously whether, if I were to leave this world tonight, I would be satisfied with how I’ve lived my life, especially its last day, and whether I would leave any issues unresolved. And if I find that I’m not happy with my answers, I consider whether, seeing this, I would like to change anything about the way I’m living.
Of course, in thinking about this, some of us might want to make changes that wouldn’t be beneficial to us in our daily lives, such as quitting our jobs, running away from home, or scattering our money from a helicopter. Maybe it’s better not to make these things happen if we don’t expect to die today. But often much simpler things come to our minds, things that are much less costly and that can much more realistically change our world.
When I was doing this exercise some time ago, the music from the movie Titanic played right at the same moment. Maybe it was miraculous fate or maybe just a coincidence, but it determined my whole experience. At that moment I thought about people who couldn’t live together with their loved ones (as in the movie) and about people who didn’t have anyone with whom they felt a deep connection (just like me during my school days, when I watched the movie for the first time). And I thought that each of them would probably like to trade places with me and have someone with whom they could share love.
I understood that if I were to die then, I would feel the most regretful about the fact that I hadn’t been expressing enough to my wife and my daughter how much I love them, how their presence is the light of my life, and how happy I am that I have them. I hadn’t felt grateful about every minute spent with them, but was instead concentrating on things that, in the end, were much less important. I learned my lesson through this exercise, and when I started expressing these sentiments, my family life reached a new level.
If you try to do this exercise, I don’t promise anything, but who knows: maybe you’ll discover something as important as I did.