(MCT)—Have you been pushing all of your needs into the background? Maybe you’ve put off going to the dentist. Or has it been three years since you’ve taken the time to read a book?
Everybody and everything screams for your attention, so you always come last on your list.
In our busy world, we’re all encouraged to volunteer in dozens of ways, help our neighbors, work extra hours and give until it hurts. This kind of self-sacrifice can backfire, however.
A man we’ll call Allan was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. He told us his obituary will sound great in the newspaper. After all, he was president of three major charities, and he wrote a college textbook.
“But I feel weird about leaving this world,” Allan confided to us. “I feel there were lots of small things I didn’t do for me.”
Allan named three books he wants to read over the next two weeks. “And,” he told us, “I really want to go to Hawaii. My dad was there at Pearl Harbor during World War II, so it’s on my Bucket List of places to visit.”
We’ve often heard hospice nurses say that some people are angry when dying. Others, however, are peaceful and in harmony with leaving this world. So, we wondered, what explains these reactions to one’s own death?
A hospice nurse we’ll call Anna told us this: “People who don’t get to fulfill things related to their basic enjoyment of life are angry about dying. They feel cheated. They are frustrated that their small and seemingly insignificant needs — in the grand scheme of things — didn’t get met.”
Anna goes on to say that simple things do matter. People who are dying don’t want to look back over their lives to discover they missed the small things. “Hiking, reading, going to the movies, hanging out with friends all matter in the end,” says Anna. “We need these little gifts every day, so we feel harmony along the road of life. You can’t make them up in two months at the end of your life.”
In order to ensure you take good care of yourself, set aside time to review what’s going on. These tips can help:
Become accountable to yourself. Set aside Wednesday nights, for example, to go over what you’re doing for yourself. Ask: Am I doing something pleasurable just for me? Am I taking good care of myself both physically and mentally?
Solve a big problem that’s weighing you down. Maybe you have a large car payment that’s crippling your budget. Decide to sell the car, trade the car for a cheaper one, or take on a part-time job to help make the payment. A large, nagging problem can ruin the quality of your life.
Resolve to save time in every way you can. Time is your most precious resource. If you stop to think about it, it’s the only resource you have that you can’t replace. Don’t let negative people or situations steal your joy. Take back your time by deciding what you’ll focus on and how you’ll stop wasting it, so you can accomplish your dreams.
Living in ways that make you feel in control will help you leave this world with grace and dignity. All of us will leave one day, so we need to plan accordingly.
Ask: what do I need to do for me? Giving care to yourself ensures you’ll have the energy and desire to give to others along the way.
Judi Light Hopson is the Executive Director of the stress management website USA Wellness Café at www.usawellnesscafe.com . Emma Hopson is an author and a nurse educator. Ted Hagen is a family psychologist.
Distributed by MCT Information Services