If you could live your whole life over again, what would you do differently? It’s a familiar question. We’ve probably all heard it before, or even asked it of others or ourselves. My regular reply has always been, “nothing”. There isn’t anything I would change because every decision, every event, every sadness, every difficulty, everything that has ever happened to me has made me who I am and led me to where I am and I wouldn’t change that for anything. Right? Blech. Well, I’ve been thinking about that question a lot lately and I think I’ve come to a new conclusion. If I had my whole life to live over again, what would I do differently? Everything. Every single thing. I don’t mean I would change the details of my life up to this point. I’m not wishing I could unload a kid or anything. I mean that I would live it differently. I would DO it differently. Same events. Different me.
Charles Swindoll once said, “Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you react to it.” This quote has been a kind of mantra of mine since my early high school years, which is many years before I knew who said it. I’ve always believed that our reactions to our circumstances is what truly matters in the way that we live. We have a choice how we respond to things. However, although I’ve believed that wholeheartedly for over half of my life, I don’t think I fully understood it until recently. It’s not just about positivity or a good attitude. It’s not even about hopefulness, I don’t think. I believe it’s more about understanding that much of our life is about the way we think. The way we think about ourselves, the way we think about others, the way we think about our circumstances – our difficulties – our wins and our losses. It’s about perspective. And perspective is a choice – an important one.
If I could do my life over again, I’d give it a go with less fear. I’d stop worrying about what everyone is thinking about me. I’d concern myself less with whether or not I fit in. I’d spend my energy fighting against shame, being unabashedly myself, without altering one funny little detail to please anyone other than my own self. I’d believe people when they told me I’m pretty. I’d care more about my friends than my waistline. I’d spend more time doing stupid things. I’d look at my children longer and study every feature of their tiny little faces. I’d hold hands more, hug more, kiss more, love more. I’d work harder at forgiveness – of others and myself. I’d have more confidence in my abilities, my strengths, my talents. I’d make more mistakes, and not worry as much about them. I’d give myself unlimited chances to do better, live better, be better. I’d risk more. I’d travel more. I’d keep less for myself and give more away. Mostly I’d accept myself as I am and love myself more entirely – all of me – every wrinkle, every fat cell, every quirk and every flaw.
I’d stop comparing and start living.