Do You Have Regrets? Here’s What I’ve Learned about Life

I’ve always been amazed at what we can learn from our elders if we took the time to listen. They have decades of experience, rich with life lessons most of them are dying to share. Although my grandfather (I call him Papa) tends to be a man of few words, I asked him a question that sparked a two hour conversation.

I said “Papa, what advice would you give to someone trying to make the most of life?”

It was a simple question, yet it yielded sage wisdom. His advice has totally changed my perspective on the World. Most people live life on cruise control with little intention or effort put behind any given day. We see life as a blur, until it isn’t. We take each day for granted, then years go by and we wonder where time went.

Let’s heed my grandfather’s advice and learn from his regrets so that we can make the most of our life yet to come.

Spend More Time with Family and Friends

What are the best memories you have in life?

Chances are these experiences involve family, friends, or both. The people we love make everything more enjoyable. Sometimes life gets in the way and we go far too long without seeing or hearing from people we care about. Since chatting with my grandfather, I’ve begun doing 3 simple things every day that help me stay connected with family and friends.

1. Say I love you

Every day before I go to bed I either text, call, or say “I love you” to my parents. I never want to wake up and find out that I didn’t get a chance to let them know how I feel. Even with an incredibly demanding schedule, you can spare a few minutes out of your day to send a text or make a phone call. If you have a significant other, parents, or other people you love, don’t wait until tomorrow. Make the most of today!

2. Call or Zoom someone you care about every day

There are some people I care about that I don’t get a chance to talk to everyday–there just aren’t enough hours. When I realized how long it had been since talking to some people I consider close friends, I decided to make a list of people to call or zoom. No matter what my day looks like, I make it my mission to call one of these people to check up on them. Think about how much this means to them and how happy you’ll be after talking to someone you care about.

3. Praise People

Think about all the amazing people in your life and all the great things that they’re doing. If I had to guess, you probably don’t go out of your way to let people know how great they are. In a world filled with negativity, depression, and self-doubt think about how much of an impact you can have by saying kind words to those around you.

Passing positive vibes to others has a snowball effect. If you say something nice to another person, they become happier, then they say something kind, and so on. Let’s make this the new norm on social media, in our texts, and on calls.

Stop Worrying

Anxiety pervades modern society. We often worry about future events and the uncertainty surrounding them. Most of the time, we build immense anxiety leading up to certain things only to find out it wasn’t that bad. I’m guilty of doing this quite often, but I’ve learned some tricks that have helped me manage this.

1. Know Your Triggers

Many people have certain people, places, or things that increase their anxiety. My top trigger is home ownership, but there are many more. Knowing my triggers has enabled me to design strategies to combat each without worrying.

Being a homeowner and investing in real estate are amazing accomplishments, but they come with responsibility. My anxiety gets triggered by repairs. If you’ve ever owned a home, you know that things have a tendency of breaking at the worst possible time. After a few days of owning my first house, a pipe burst in the basement. That was fun. The plumber came over and everything was fine, I just wasn’t prepared.

I learned a lot from that stress-inducing experience. Now I have an emergency repair fund for my properties. That way if anything goes wrong, I don’t have to figure out how to pay for it. Having a list of handymen such as plumbers and electricians has also been very helpful so that I’m not scrambling to find one when something goes awry. Lastly, I take a proactive approach of updating big ticket items before they shit the bed. If you know the average life expectancy of certain items, it’s pretty easy to figure out. These preemptive measures have reduced my anxiety exponentially.

Think about what your triggers are and come up with plans for how to avoid worst-case scenarios involving them. If you have a plan of action for when things go wrong, it’s much less nerve wracking.

2. Incorporate Flex Time

As a type A personality, I’m very regimented. It works out well most of the time, but when timing is off that totally ruins my day. Or at least it used to before I started incorporating flex time into my schedule.

Flex time is essentially a space filler that serves as a buffer in the event that you need it. I set aside an hour and a half at a certain point after work where I can catch up on anything I need to get done. It can be used for finishing my blog posts, doing errands, or completing chores. The coolest thing is that sometimes I don’t need it, so I have free time to relax.

Just knowing that you have time put aside in case something spills over is great. I seldom have to reschedule plans or miss deadlines thanks to flex time.

3. Have a Sponsor

Recently I was watching the Sopranos. One of the characters on the show attends Alcoholics Anonymous and has a sponsor to talk to if he feels triggered or needs to get something off his chest. We all need to have a sponsor for when anxiety strikes or is about to strike.

My friend Kendrick is my sponsor and vice-versa. It’s great knowing that he will listen if something is getting to me. When something starts to build up, I just call him and talk it out (availability is huge when choosing a sponsor). Having an outside party look at your situation objectively gives you a new perspective that helps you think rationally. When advice is needed, it’s also great to know that I can rely on him to help guide me through murky waters. Having a sponsor is the key to a happy life.

Travel More

When I was in college, I wanted to go to France more than anything. I was very fortunate to earn a scholarship which helped me study abroad in Paris. During that experience, I learned to speak French (although poorly now), saw amazing places, and met great people. A few days ago I Zoomed with a bunch of my study abroad friends who I hadn’t spoken to in ages. We took turns telling our favorite stories and cracked jokes at each other for hours. Almost ten years removed from this experience, I still have some of my fondest memories from my time abroad. Travel brings out the fun in most people and memories from our experiences outlast the souvenirs we bring home afterwards. Going on trips is one way to live your best life.

Think about all the gizmos and gadgets you’ve accumulated throughout your life. How many of them do you still use?

In contrast, think about all of the travel experiences that you had. I bet you remember most of them. Spending money on experiences rather than material “stuff” seems to be a better investment because it creates lasting memories. You’re usually with people you chose to travel with and you probably had a say in where you went. All of this collectively gives us plenty of incentive to travel. Yet, we often find excuses for why we can’t travel.

Make a list of all the places you want to go in this country and abroad. Rank them in order of importance, then start planning your next trip. Even if you do 1 vacation a year due to monetary restraints, make sure that you get away for a bit. You’ll feel re-energized when you come back and probably also have more appreciation for your home. Hopefully this got your itch for travel to come back!

Final Thoughts

Today’s the day you are going to start living life to the fullest. Take each day as an opportunity to enjoy life and share your blessings with others. By spending time with loved ones, worrying less, and traveling more, you will be a much happier person.