The oldest person celebrating New Year’s Eve at our ballroom dance party last night was 92! He danced the night away, twirling ladies from his fingertips like he was 22. He smiled a lot. It was clear he was a happy man. I don’t think it was the dancing per se, but a life philosophy that made him that way. It got me wondering what it takes to arrive at 92 as a really happy person.
Certainly it has a lot to do with the choices we make along the way, but is there more to it? I recently read the following message written by Nadine Stair, an 85 year old woman from Louisville Kentucky and it got me thinking:
If I Had My Life to Live Over
I’d like to make more mistakes next time. I’d relax. I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I’d have fewer imaginary ones
You see, I’m one of those people who live sensibly and sanely hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I’ve had my moments, and if I had it to do over again, I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothing else. Just moments one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day. I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat and a parachute. If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.
If I had to live my life over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds. I would pick more daisies.
- Nadine Stair
I don’t want to wait until I’m 92 or even 85 to consider how I’d live my life if I had it to do it over. I want to arrive at old age, still dancing my heart out, without a single thing to add to a list like the one above!
What if we could remind ourselves regularly about the things that make us happy and focus on making them a priority? What if we didn’t wait until tomorrow to do the things we want to do and say the things that matter? I know it sounds a little cliché, but when was the last time any of us made a list like the one above? What would be on your list? How long would it be?
I’m pretty sure that happiness as we get older is partly a result of living life without regret. Wouldn’t it be nice to look back and be able to say, “I wouldn’t change a thing?”