Floating around on the internet one night, I found a list of the biggest regrets of the dying, made by a palliative care nurse called Bronnie Ware. Searching for and following the connections of this interesting subject, I also stumbled upon some similar artwork, made by Alice Lee. In her Tumblr-blog, she posted some desktop wallpapers, inspired by Paul Grahams’ inversions of the 5 regrets, yielding a list of 5 commands:
Don’t ignore your dreams; don’t work too much; say what you think; cultivate friendships; be happy.
It reminded me a lot about the famous Wear Sunscreen article, written by Mary Schmich, which later was transformed into the successful music single “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)“, released in 1999, by Baz Luhrmann.
The speech published in the Chicago Tribune as a column in 1997, is often wrongly attributed to a commencement speech by author Kurt Vonnegut. But the famous writer never delivered this address. But a lot of similar can be found in the 1927 poem “Desiderata“:
Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its shams, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.
For more inspiration and ideas for finding simplicity in the daily chaos of our lives, you can check out the popular Zen Habits blog.