Yesterday I gave you an exercise to imagine yourself on your deathbed.
Many people get all emotional about that: so it may not have worked for you. I love that exercise, but here is another exercise:
Imagine that you are on the riverside fishing. You see that the line is tout, the rod is trembling, so you do what fishermen do, and you pull out a fish.
As you take the hook out of the fish’s mouth the fish starts to talk. It says: My good man (or woman, if you are a woman), please release me back into the water and I will reward you handsomely: I will fulfill three wishes for you.
You are surprised, you question your sanity for a little bit, so you throw the fish back, after all any wish should be more valuable than the 3-4 bucks this fish is worth when you cook it.
The fish promptly swims to the surface of the water, and starts talking again: Thank you for giving back my life. In return you can make three wishes. But there is one rule you can’t break: all wishes need to be about money.
You agree, and you blurt out a big enough number for your first wish. It should be enough to buy that new house, that new car, that new golf-kit, and maybe even go on a vacation! But the fish frowns and says, No problem, but did you think of everything you wanted to do with this money? Did you think of everyone you want to partake in this good fortune of yours? Try it again. But this time take out a piece of paper and write down all the purposes you want the money for and the sums next to them, add the sums up and then ask for your second wish.
So you sit down, and spend 20 minutes thinking of all the people you care about, your family, your friends, your teachers, and you come up with a new sum, really big number. So you tell the fish, but the fish frowns again.
It says: I see, so you were only thinking of people you know and love… how about all the people on earth? How about the poor? And how about the sick? And how about social causes? And how about the environment? Did you think about any of that? Go back to your notepad, and write down all the cause you care about, and the amount of money you would want to spend on those, and then add up the sums, and come back again. But be careful, this is your third wish!
So you spend the next two hours thinking of all the places that you would be able to cause good with the money you get from the fish, the sick, the research, the poor, the inner city kids, the wretched in India, AIDS in Africa, the earth quake victims in Haiti, all the people you can think of.
This new number is so big, you don’t even know how to say it. Your mouth trembles as you say all the zeros, but you say it… and you have it.
Now we came to the top regrets of the dying
Now, let me ask you a question? Now that you are able to do all that in the world: how do you feel about yourself?
The feeling that you have about yourself, powerful, happy, joyful, free, generous, is the dominant missing feeling that you have in your life. And the good your money will do are the top regrets of the dying, that you will have if you don’t act on them now.