5 things I intend to do differently now that I’ve been given a second chance at life

A slightly modified version of this article first appeared on eve.com.mt

Becoming chronically ill made me stop to think much more than I used to before as I rushed through my ever busy life. One time I heard the following quote by Greg McKeown: "On the last day of our lives, what will we hope we decided to do on this one?”

And that got me thinking even more. And I realised that I hadn’t always been living my life the way I would have wanted to if it was the last day of my life. 

So from then on I decided that I should live my life slightly differently and now that I've recovered fully I'm really trying to do just that. Life sometimes gets in the way and tries to pull me back into my old habits. But I’m really trying not to let that happen and I can definitely say that I’ve become a much happier person by following these 5 rules: 

1. Always find time for the people who matter most, including yourself.
I love spending time with family and friends and I like to think that I’ve always made time for them. But at times I would over-commit and wouldn’t leave any margin for myself. I now realise that making time for myself has made me better able to handle my commitments and to enjoy quality time with my loved ones more. 

2. Stop worrying about tomorrow and start truly enjoying the present moment.
I’m a born worrier and I was definitely guilty of not enjoying the present moment fully simply because I would have been worrying about something. I still struggle a bit with this, but I do try to worry less and it has really helped me to appreciate the small but essential things in life more.

3. Choose happiness whenever you can.
I’ve also realised that to some extent happiness is a choice. This isn’t to say that there aren’t moments in our lives which are overwhelmingly sad and I do think it’s important in those moments to take the time to grieve and allow yourself to heal emotionally. But there are times when happiness is a choice. Life is full of ups and downs and on any given day if you choose to focus on the negative aspects, it’s easy for the positive ones to pass you by.

4. Forgive yourself.
This was a hard one for me. I tend to be my own worst critic and often feel that I should have done things better. But I’m trying to learn to let go. To remember that I always did my best in any situation. Maybe a decision turned out not to be the best one in the end, but there were reasons I made that decision. And I’m learning to accept that, to forgive myself and when things don’t turn out right to simply hope for a brighter tomorrow. 

5. Chase your dreams.
I wouldn’t say that I didn’t used to chase my dreams before. But there were some things I put off because I thought the time wasn’t right or I wasn’t good enough. Now I’ve learned that life is short and that there’s no time like the present to chase my dreams. Of course it’s not always possible to chase all your dreams, but I do try to analyse what’s most important to me and at least plan what I can do today to get one step closer to achieving my dream, whatever it might be.

After a year of being chronically ill, I feel so lucky to have been given a second chance at life. And I’m definitely going to make the most of this second chance. Just by doing these 5 things differently, I now go to sleep happier every day, even on the more challenging days.