I read an article months and months ago about this phenomenon. I remember it really struck a chord deep down because I of course had to quantify it and choose my biggest regret which was #3 “I wish I had let myself be happier”. I posted a blog about it at some point but never talked about the other part of that story.
That part never left me either and seemed somehow more important or maybe just as important but I wasn’t sure how it related to my life. I think it resonated because I want to take something terrible like addiction and turn into something positive but I just can’t seem to manage that. I want to walk away re-charged with a new sense of purpose. Instead, I am stuck on this ugly loop that just spins round and round and repeats it self…all the central characters playing the same key roles and nothing changes.
I think Ron has done that. He has walked away from this torturous experience and turned it into a life’s mission to educate and change the view people have of addiction. I think Annette also has walked away from this experience with a renewed sense of purpose and a desire to be the change in people’s lives. Syd has obviously been transformed by his experiences, reaching out and taking an active role in the Alanon Community. Those are just three people who immediately came to mind, I am sure there are many others.
My question is: Why? Why were they able to live their lives with a new sense of purpose and experience growth when so many of us continually falter. I don’t want to minimize their accomplishments in any way because I only see a small glimpse into their lives…the part they share. Does it have to do with their addicts success? Ron’s son appears to be living happily ever after or is it ones ability to detach which seems to be Syd’s greatest strength or is it Annette’s resilience and obvious joy in giving back to others?
I WANT THAT! I know I sound like a big fat baby but I really do want that and if it was as easy as wanting I would be transformed too…and so would my addict. I don’t want to walk away diminished from this experience, I want to be super-charged. What is it that makes me unable to achieve what others are able to incorporate into their lives?
Here is a snippet of the original article. I think it includes the link just click on the pink “10 Extra Years”. The video is fascinating to me. It all seems so simple but not really simple at all.
Jane McGonigal began her 2012 talk “The Game That Can Give You 10 Extra Years of Life” by listing the five regrets of the dying: “Number one: I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. Number two: I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. Number three: I wish I had let myself be happier. Number four: I wish I’d had the courage to express my true self. And number five: I wish I’d lived a life true to my dreams, instead of what others expected of me.”
Then she makes a fascinating leap to a little-known phenomenon called post-traumatic growth. We’ve all heard of post-traumatic stress. But sometimes, when people are faced with a deeply traumatic experience — illness, accident, or another brush with death — they walk away not diminished, but super-charged by the experience. Suddenly, they can live a life without fear, focused on what matters most to them. And Jane’s talk teaches the rest of us how we can experience this super-growth, without the trauma.