A Good Life With No Regrets

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“I have lived a good life. I have no regrets.”

These words were spoken by my sister’s father-in-law, Donald Murphie. Don, or Pop as we call him, was placed into hospice this week at 96 years of age. Alyson and I visited him recently while in the hospital and this weekend when we heard the news of his hospice care. We wanted to spend time with a man that we care about and to possibly say goodbye to a man entering the final phase of his life.

Alyson asked Pop what he attributed to living a good life and not having regrets. He said he has always lived his life based on three principles.

The first principle was to always remember that he could do anything he set his mind to. For example, during the depression, his father’s car needed a new clutch but couldn’t afford to have the car repaired. His father knew Don was good at fixing things and asked him “do you think you can fix the car?” Don said, “sure.”

He went out to the garage and crawled underneath the car, located the clutch and took it apart meticulously placing all the parts in order of how he took them apart. He went to the auto parts store and asked about fixing a clutch, learned there was a rebuild kit, bought it and took it home and rebuilt the clutch. “If I can see something done once I can repeat it again. If I haven’t seen it done I can figure it out. I just knew if I wanted to do something I could.”

The second principle was to make the best of every situation. He said, “we can’t control what happens to us, but we can certainly make the best of it. And frankly, I’ve just never wanted to make other people miserable because of some hardship on my part. I spent ten years nursing my wife before she passed. Parts of her care were hard and difficult, but hell, there’s no reason to complain, be miserable or to make others miserable.”

The third principle is to never give up. Even amidst the medication and realization that he had days or weeks and not months, he sounded like Winston Churchill. There was a resolve in his voice that was commanding and convincing. Maybe that was the part of Pop that retired from the Army with the rank of Major, and who ten years ago while sitting at Thanksgiving dinner recounted how he almost died three times in battle. He told us he had a Guardian Angel and that gave him the strength to keep going in the face of the absolute and stunning hardship of war.

We don’t know when Don Murphie will pass from this life to the next, but we do know that his life principles will live on after his passing. Pop, you have allowed Alyson and me to live a better life for knowing you and for knowing your life principles. Thank you!

What principles guide your life?

Living a good life without regret never happens accidentally. It is done purposefully. If you’d like help articulating your life principles you can read more about how to do so in my book, 7 Principles of Transformational Leadership: Create a Mindset of Passion, Innovation and Growth. Or, feel free to call me and we’ll discuss a more personalized approach.

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