I Wish I Hadn’t Worked So Hard
Here is our second post based on the wonderful article the Top Five Regrets of the Dying. This article gets to the heart of the matter when it comes to living life fully and abundantly. We hope that you’ll be inspired by its wisdom and what it teaches us about what really matters in life. Each day we’ll continue highlighting one of the five regrets from the article.
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”
I really have no relationship with my father–he is just a paycheck to me.
This quote comes from a young teenage girl whose father is a high executive in a well-known organization. He made a lot of money. They lived in a beautiful home, could take exciting vacations to exotic places, and they could afford some of the finer things in life. But those things didn’t make up for the fact that his daughter felt as if her father didn’t know her and she didn’t know him and that his value to her seemed only in the paycheck he brought home at the end of the week. This is a young girl we personally know. And sadly, all too early she recognized that her father was not a close, guiding, or influential part of her life; his only significance seems to be in the money he provided.
This is a sad reality is many homes today. Traditionally, many fathers have been emotionally absent because they have been given the message that (for men) our value is based not on the relationships we cultivate and nurture but on what we produce and how much we make economically. Too often, it has been left up to mothers and females to provide emotional and spiritual guidance in many cases. With the changing role of woman in our society, it is also becoming an increasing problem that women’s self-worth is wrapped up in that mindset too, which leaves a lot of children and a lot of homes with a lack of emotional intimacy.
We believe in hard work and we believe that we all have gifts that can be used for the betterment of society. We believe that we are called to use them for the common good. But we also know that for the betterment of society, life is meant to be lived in relationship. We are to live in community with one another. But if our relationships lack emotional intimacy and a spiritual center we are severely weakened as a society and as people and because of that we often live with emptiness inside because of our lack of connection. What it comes down to really, is that we are trying to find meaning and value in the wrong things. Our meaning doesn’t come necessarily from what we produce but from whom we love, in whom we invest, with whom we share our lives.
Why do we do this?
Why do many of us work so hard?
British statesman Sir John Lubbock has said:
We often hear of people breaking down from overwork, but in nine out of ten they are really suffering from worry or anxiety.
We believe, like Lubbock, that much of our tendency to overwork ourselves comes from a sense of worry and anxiety that we aren’t enough. We need to do more, produce more; we need more results in order to somehow prove to the world that our lives are meaningful and significant. “If I could only get this project done, then my boss would think I am worthy.” “If I could only clean the house before my husband gets home from work, then my day would be productive.” In reality, so much of this mindset comes from a sense of fear. We are afraid that our lives aren’t significant enough.
But today we are here to remind you, as we are reminding ourselves, that our lives aren’t any more or less meaningful based on what we “accomplish” today. Our lives are valuable and meaningful and worthy simply because we are. If we could grasp this concept it would change the number of hours we work, it would change the way we interact with our children, it would change the way we see ourselves.
We don’t want to live with regrets—and we know that you don’t either. And maybe if we could get this balance right between the work we do and the relationships we nurture, our regrets will be very few and that we can say that our lives have been well-lived.