The other night my friend and I had just finished dinner and were walking through a very familiar parking lot to the car. As I glanced to my left, I saw a cluster of fast food restaurants and unexpectedly memories engulfed me; I felt like time stood still. In an instant my mind hijacked me to a different era; one of days gone by. I saw the image of the once giant Blockbuster Video building standing proud and occupying the entire space where the now 3 restaurants are.
It was like I had entered a time warp with vibrant imageries of the past; when my kids were young. Memories flooded before my eyes of all the Friday night trips to Blockbuster for my kid’s “Friday night movies.” I even vividly recall the Blockbuster employee dressed in blue and greeting us at the door with the familiar script, “Hi, welcome to blockbuster!”
Four kids = Four Videos for 3 Days of classic movies for the entire family to watch; and watch we did. We fell in love with Sonora, the diving horse rider in Wild Hearts Can’t be Broken. We cheered Benny the Jet Rodriguez as he stole home in The Sandlot, and we sobbed every single time that Chance, Sassy and Shadow made the incredible journey through the wilderness to find their owners in Homeward Bound. Our hearts broke seeing the anguish and heartache of Edmond Dantes when he was framed and sent to the dreaded Chateau d’lf island in The Count of Montecristo.
And just like that, the time warp jolted me back to reality. I was once again in the parking lot with Smash Burger, Ahi Poke and Chipotle where Blockbuster once stood. There are no longer VHS movies to watch, the kids are all grown and the once empire Blockbuster is gone; time has relentlessly marched on.
I asked myself, “If I had to do it all over again, what would I do differently?” I didn’t have to look very far to see that the answer to that question was in that parking lot experience with Blockbuster.
Did you know that in the year 2000 Reed Hastings, founder of a raw, inexperienced company called Netflix, flew to Dallas to meet with Blockbuster CEO John Antioco. Hastings proposed a partnership with Blockbuster; Netflix would run Blockbuster’s brand online and Blockbuster would promote Netflix in its stores. Hastings got laughed out of the office for his idea and offer. We all know the rest of the story – Blockbuster went bankrupt; Netflix is currently worth 70 billion dollars.
I’d say there were probably some regrets in this story.
So to answer my own question, “If I had to do it all over again,” the first thing that I would do differently is to try to reduce my regrets.
Besides Blockbuster’s story, I looked closer to home; to someone else’s experience to see how I might minimize regrets in my life. There is a lot written about the regrets of the dying and although I do not claim to be a palliative caregiver, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to care for my mom for five years before she passed.
During the final 6 months of her life, my mom was unable to bear weight and we needed to place her in a care facility. Knowing her time with us was short, either myself, my son Rock, or my daughter Heather were by her side as much as we could physically be.
What did the three of us learn about living a life with no regrets from a woman who died with absolutely no regrets?
Love is the most powerful force on earth. My mom loved at deep levels. She treated others with kindness and respect and wasn’t afraid to express that love. She taught us the importance of loving people, life and God.
I learned to always look for the best in situations from my mom. Shortly before she would lose the strength of both her legs due to dementia, she looked in the mirror standing feebly from her walker, totally bent over from her waist and said, “I will stand up straight again.”
That mindset gave her peace and hope to carry on each day despite the fact that she never stood up straight again and lost the use of her legs shortly thereafter. I am confident that her words were true and today she is walking with perfect posture, strength, and grace in her heavenly body.
Live Life on Purpose
We all have daily purposes and bigger purposes. Knowing your WHY is quite popular now but my mom knew the importance of it before it became widespread by Simon Sinek or other self-development proponents. She would always say, “Mejita, we are here for a reason: love God, love people and do good things for others.” Simple yet profound wisdom from a woman who only had a 6th grade education but modeled a purpose-filled life.
My mom never told anyone how courageous she was; she didn’t have to. Instead she lived it and displayed it to others. She was orphaned by age 10, lived in extreme poverty and survived The Great Depression.
She lost both her parents and a brother at a young age. As she aged, one by one her remaining siblings, nephews, nieces, friends and her husband passed away; she was the lone survivor modeling courage to the very end.
Regardless of what happened to her, I never once heard victim language from my mom. She believed that if you take responsibility for your choices in life, you’ll be a strong person and things will work out. At no time did she ever consider herself a victim, she NEVER felt sorry for herself, and I don’t ever remember her throwing a pity party. Instead of wasting time and wallowing in self-pity, she took actions to make things work out and consequently was a victor.
Want to experience freedom in your life, learn to forgive. My mom endured many hardships in life and experienced profound hurts and disappointments. She always taught me to forgive; even when it hurts and you don’t feel like it.
Tips to Live a Life with No Regrets
Recognize what dominant emotion drives you. Is love your motivating force or is it fear, anger or bitterness? Start today to make a conscious choice to choose to love.
You’re going to encounter both good and bad things in life; both positive and negative experiences will come your way. Since you have to walk through them anyway, isn’t it easier to choose optimism?
Recognize when you are reacting negatively to your circumstances. Learn how to anchor your thoughts. When faced with a negative situation or thought, be prepared and replace it with a new thought, an image, or a reframing story to switch gears and find the gift in your situation.
When you know your purpose, life just flows and you are more likely to experience fulfillment and joy. Listen to the things that pull at your heart strings. Your answers come through exploration. Let go of thinking your purpose is in what you do, it is found in who you are and how you live your life on a daily basis.
Look at the situations where you experience the most fear in your life. Write them down and try the 20 second rule. The following quote helped me during a very turbulent time in my life:
“Sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage and I promise you something great will come of it.” – Benjamin Mee
Narrow down your action plans to think in terms of 20 second increments. Take one small step at a time to walk through your fearful thoughts. Start with 20 seconds of courage and build patterns of courage from it; 20 seconds at a time.
Being a victim is very unattractive. Start listening to the victim language you speak to yourself and out loud. Take note of what it sounds like and look for patterns of speech. If you feel like throwing yourself a pity party, write your thoughts down in a journal instead of speaking them over and over again. As you write, look for ways that you can be your own rescuer and overcome what you deem to be unfair.
Forgiveness is a decision, not a feeling. When you make a choice to forgive, your feelings will take a while to catch up. Don’t be controlled by the deception of your feelings. Choose to forgive regardless of what you feel. When triggers come and elicit feelings of unforgiveness, remind yourself that you have forgiven; you are not your feelings. Feelings sometimes lie and may mislead you.
The Power of Wisdom
“Generally speaking, there are two kinds of learning: experience, which is gained from your own mistakes, and wisdom, which is learned from the mistakes of others.”
I’ll take wisdom anytime I can find it. From Blockbuster, I learned the importance of reducing regrets in life.
From my mom’s last days, my kids and I all learned the power of love, the importance of optimism, the advantages of purpose, the strength of courage, and the value of responsibility.
These are all amazingly powerful traits that my kids and I were profoundly impacted by. I would have to say that the last trait – forgiveness especially touched and inspired us. It’s very hard to forgive and it’s easy to understand why. When we experience injustice, we desire to be vindicated and we may want the other person to pay for what they’ve done.
I love this quote by Robert Brault,
“Life becomes easier when you learn to accept an apology you never got.”
Want an easier life? Learn to forgive. Recognize that forgiveness is essential to your growth as a human and is a gift that unlocks freedom and miracles in your life.
So if you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
Rita helps her clients:
• Embrace their true potential
• Change their limiting beliefs/thoughts
• Create Purpose
• Live Empowered, Confident, and Successful Lives
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