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Living Without Regret

Photo by aeschleah

If someone who was important to you died abruptly, would you say to yourself, “I wish I would have . . .”? If something were to happen to you suddenly, wouldn’t you want those you care about to have known how much you appreciated them?

If your answer to these questions is yes, then expressing your deep gratitude to those who have made a significant impact on your life should not be put off any longer. There are several good reasons to start expressing your appreciation to these people now.

  • The sooner you tell them how you feel, the longer they will be able have to take pleasure in the message. Why wait until they’re old or dying? If they do die, there’s no chance at all that they will ever fully appreciate your level of gratitude.
  • You could miss the opportunity of having the pleasure of giving this gift of extraordinary gratitude to someone who has made a real difference in your life.
  • They’ll probably be inspired to help others; in fact, the ripples may very well be felt far and wide, and all because you made these individuals aware of how important they are to you.

I recently took my own gratitude journey and reached out to 44 people who had made the most significant impact on my life. I wanted to deliver my gratitude while I still had the energy and before it was too late and the opportunity was lost. I didn’t want to wait until any of our lives were compromised by ill health or imminent death. So I figured that I should tell these people how much they mattered to me long—hopefully, very long—before that happened and I was left with regrets.

My journey was so gratifying and significant to me and the people who I was able to share my profound expressions of gratitude I began sharing my story with others. I was asked to speak to a couple of the graduate business school classes of one of “my 44,” Dr. Harold Lazarus at Hofstra University.

The audience consisted of young adults, who had full time jobs in addition to their full time evening graduate business school program. By most accounts they might not have related to the importance of gratitude and I was not sure how my message would be received. I could not have been more impressed or more pleased.

Here is one of the many emails I received from the students who shared what the experience of expressing gratitude was like.

Your talk was so thought provoking and I left the class so emotional, but I would say in a good way. As my first person to express profound gratitude to I chose my dad.

He’s someone I really admire and has taught me so many things in life. My dad is such a hard worker – he actually was still at work when I got back to my house after class so I had some time to think about how I was going to approach this assignment. That might have been the hardest part – trying to figure out how to start. It might sound strange, but I was thinking of holding off on talking to my dad for a day. I just didn’t know how to start the conversation, but I was so moved after class tonight that I really wanted to tell him right away what an impact he has made on my life.

As I started to talk to him about what was discussed in class today, I started to cry. We talked briefly today about losing someone you love and I couldn’t imagine life without my dad…and that just stuck in my mind as I started to talk to him. Without hesitation, he gave me a hug and said “you don’t have to say anything, you know I love you.” But I wanted to say what I wrote today in class and after I did he gave me an even bigger hug and said “if I died tonight, I would die so happy. I love you.” It is kind of a morbid thing to say, however after I thought about it I realized that just talking to him for a few minutes made his night (and I guess even his life) happy.

I’m so glad I did it. You’re right – it only took a few minutes to complete but seems to have made a lifetime impact on both myself and my dad. I tell him all the time that I love him, but it felt great to tell him why and I can tell it made him feel good too.

Thank you!
Christina C.

How would you have felt if you were Christina and you did not have this conversation with a parent, sibling, or spouse before it was too late? Imagine how it can affect the rest of your life, like it would Christina’s and her father’s from that day forward.

One expression of gratitude with one person can be the stepping stone for you to express your deep gratitude to those that are really important to you.

You have likely read about the importance of gratitude: the pleasure, the peace of mind, and the deepening of relationships that can be gained from doing so. Although sometimes these positive benefits aren’t a strong enough motivator for action and unfortunately it takes the pain of regret to make us change our habits.

When I recounted my yearlong journey of gratitude in my book, This is the Moment, it was for the purpose of capturing the opportunity to express uncommon gratitude before it’s too late. I didn’t share my journey because I felt anyone should try to replicate it; rather, I wanted to provide the inspiration to create your own path that makes sense for you and the people you want to honor. I strongly encourage you to express gratitude to at least one person and then decide for yourself if you wish to do more.

If you are uncertain and hesitant about how to start your own gratitude journey, please go to my website, and download a free guide that will help you (enter name and email at bottom of page to receive it). If you have already begun to express profound gratitude I encourage you to share your story with our gratitude community.

~ ~ ~

Want a copy of this book? We’re currently giving away two copies on facebook. Leave a comment on TSN facebook page here before January 20, 2011 at 21:59 PST to enter in the draw. If you’re not already a fan of our page, please click on the ‘Like’ button before you can comment. Quick & easy. That’s how we roll! :) Good Luck!

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About the author

Walter Green, author of This is the Moment: How One Man’s Yearlong Journey Captured the Power of Extraordinary Gratitude (read more about the book here) was Chairman of the Board and CEO of Harrison Conference Services for 25 years, during which time it grew into the leading conference center management company in the U.S. He has lectured at the Wharton Graduate School of Business and Hofstra and Long Island universities, as well as being featured as an expert on the topic of effective meetings in numerous national publications. Associated for years with the Young Presidents' Organization and the World Presidents' Organization, he's presently a member of the Chief Executives Organization and the L3 Organization (Leadership, Legacy, Life). He has described his life since selling his company, as" refocused" rather than retired. During this phase he has mentored young adults and is actively involved in several nonprofit organizations. He lives in Southern California with his wife, Lola.

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12 thoughts on Living Without Regret

  1. Hi Walter,

    This is an excellent post on a topic which we should all pay more attention to. Death is the ultimate separator in relationships and there can be much regret if we leave a lot of things undone or unsaid. It is such a shame that many of us only realize the value of what we lose when we lose it. But when it is there beside us all the time, we take it for granted. This is especially so when it comes to relationships.

    I really enjoyed reading the email you shared about Christina and her dad. It drives home you point perfectly that we should never take anyone for granted or wait until it is too late to express our gratitude.

    Thank you for sharing this thought provoking article! :)

    Irving the Vizier

  2. Abby

    This is brilliant and timely. I was setting a goal this year to become a gratitude expert. I love how the Universe responds to my thinking. A prosperous 2011 to the Think Simple Now team. Thank you for sharing this.

  3. Hi Walter,
    The gratitude journey sounds facinating. Thanks for passing on this beautiful message. It is so important for our loved to know how important they are! I’d like to say more, but I’m too choked up:)

    ~Dandy

  4. Serenita

    Incredible! I made a promise to myself that I had to express my gratitude to my people and to things around me. I love the way nature responds to my hopes.

    Thank you for giving me this

  5. Clau

    There is a special feeling i get when i can surpass my ego and pride to allow my true feelings show. It is a very rewarding and humbling experience.
    Thank you for sharing your experience of gratefullness.

    Love,
    Clau

  6. What a beautiful article. I have been practising this as well.
    Read my latest article here:
    http://singaporeseen.stomp.com.sg/stomp/sgseen/stomp_love_story_2011/534494/love_story_i_chose_to_marry_doris_even_with_her.html
    Thank you.
    Sincerely,

    Raymond Anthony Fernando

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