Andy Falconer


Living Without Regrets

30 Apr 2016 | One Comment |

Twenty years from now you’ll be more disappointed 1by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. Are you living your life so that when you look back you have very few regrets?

Jeanne Louise Calment is in the Guinness Book of Records for living to the grand old age of 122 years and 164 days. Susannah Mushatt Jones is currently 116 years old and has 100 nieces and nephews! It’s amazing to think just how much change they’ve seen in their lifetimes. Tim Peake is living in space at the moment, whilst the man on the moon was merely a throw away phrase when they were growing up.

I wonder if I had the chance to ask Susannah Jones whether she had any regrets from her long life, what she would say? Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do”. This was the theme for my assembly talk at school this week.

We like giving advice to people. And older people seem to particularly like giving advice to younger people. That might be giving advice to a sibling who is a year or two younger than ourselves, or it could be giving advice to younger generations. Sometimes we listen to the advice and other times we thing we know better. This video clip encapsulates this perfectly:

I implored the pupils to make sure that when they are sat talking to their great grandchildren in years to come, they don’t look back at their lives and regret any of the following:

Giving up too easily
stick at things when they get difficult. You may surprise yourself at just what you can achieve. This is at the heart of our growth mindset approach to education.

Not leaving your comfort zone
don’t play safe all the time – this doesn’t mean you have to do a bungee jump though. Perform in an informal concert even though the thought terrifies you. Try a new after-school club or activity. Read a different genre of book than you would normally read. Go to the ballet.

Not spending enough time with loved ones
I know that brothers/sisters/parents can be very annoying at times, especially when all you want to do is be with your friends or online. But all too soon you’ll leave home and wish you could spend more time with them. So cut your parents some slack when they suggest a ‘family activity’ instead of rolling your eyes.

Worrying too much – worrying isn’t unhealthy, but worrying too much is. If you’re worried about something then talk to someone – a friend, a relative, a member of staff, Child Line. Just don’t suffer in silence.

Not trying different foods – your palates are more sensitive than when you get older, so things you don’t like at the moment you may in the future. Don’t always order the same thing in a restaurant because it’s your favourite. Ask your parents if you can visit a different type of restaurant for a change.

Not exercising – at the moment you get lots of exercise at school but when you leave school it’s up to you. There will be lots of other attractions fighting for your time, but your 50 year old body will thank you if you keep exercising throughout your life.

Not travelling when you had the chance – take opportunities to travel to new places. It doesn’t have to be exotic overseas locations. You can ask your parents to take you on day trips to places you haven’t been to before – Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester, London, the Dales, the Peak District…

Not learning another language – You’re lucky as you get the chance to learn Latin, French, German and Spanish whilst you’re here and you’ll do at least one language to GCSE level. But after you leave school continue to learn new languages. Whenever you visit an overseas country, take the time to learn some of the basic phrases such as ‘hello’, ‘thank you’, please may I have…’.

Not applying sunscreen – You might think it’s cool at the moment to come back from holiday with a sun tan, but the damage that the sun is causing to your skin won’t be evident until you’re an adult and it’s too late – wrinkles, moles and skin cancer. So wear a hat and slap on the sunscreen.

Not realising how beautiful you are – don’t waste time comparing yourself to others, whether in reality or Instagram. You are who you are. You look like you. You don’t need to look like anyone else or copy their style in order to feel you fit in. Love yourself and realise that beauty is just being happy with yourself.

Have you got any regrets as you look back at your life so far? There’s probably still time to put some of them right, if you really wanted to.

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