If you died tomorrow, would you have regrets? Would you be satisfied with your life? Would you be more than content?
It seems that very few have found the balance between striving for the future and living fully in the present. Is it even possible? Stepping outside of MIT, outside of fast-paced America, I met so many that were living day by day. Some were forced to live day by day, struggling to get by. Others had a little more luxury to look ahead, but they chose to focus more on the present. Their culture seemed so much more focused on enjoying the day, taking one-hour breaks for tea, or another one- or two-hour break to just sit and enjoy the sun and each other’s company.
This frustrated so many of our students who wanted to work quickly and efficiently, focusing on the end goal and working to reach it. How many times at MIT do we just sit with a friend for several hours in the sun having a nice talk, or maybe just sitting in silence, enjoying being around them and the world around us?
Premeds, a good extreme example, are often criticized for being too anal, for being too focused on grades and resumes. Often (though some are blessed with natural talent) this focus is necessary to obtain the best marks and to achieve the highest success in the medical school process.
However, is it worth it? When you want to be a doctor more than anything, you think it is. But then, when you try to balance out a life geared toward the future with your life in the present, your marks may begin to falter. When trying to find this balance, the general advice seems to be to work hard but to remember to relax and enjoy what’s around you. This requires such a delicate balance. I’ve been on both extremes, working too hard and forgetting the world around me and not working hard enough but loving life in the present. Is such a balance possible? Do they add up equally?
If you died tomorrow, how would you feel? What would you regret not having done? What would you regret not having said? When you live for tomorrow, what happens to today? But when you live for today, what happens to tomorrow?
Success can be measured in millions of different ways and it varies from person to person. But can you ever have it all? Can you be successful on every level? Can you have everything to your heart’s content?
Many would argue no; life must have its downsides for you to more deeply appreciate the upsides. However, some would argue yes; with the right attitude and the right combination of motivation and relaxation, you can have it all. But then how much does luck have to do with it? Timing? Skill? Can everyone have it all if they find that magic balance? Or are there just a lucky few born to have it all?
Perhaps the trick isn’t to have it all, but to be happy with what you have. To live life with no regrets is not necessarily to have no regrets but to choose not focus to on them. It’s pushing the regrets out of your mind and enveloping your thoughts around what you do have, what makes you happy, and the people that are around you.
As the holiday season approaches, we think more of our loved ones and look forward to the times we will spend with them. We think of others that are economically less fortunate and try to share the happiness. But then when the holiday season ends, what happens to the warmth and the caring? The time we so cherish with each other turns again to work and the focus turns back to the self.
Perhaps for some, this is the way to live with no regrets. But isn’t being able to positively affect other people’s lives the best foot print you can make in the world you leave behind? What do you have to do, what do you have to change, what do you have to say to make sure that whether or not you die tomorrow, there will be no regrets?