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Lisa Ellen Niver Headshot

Regrets? Are You Living Your Best Life?

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Flickr: Sam Foles
Flickr: Sam Foles

On December 19, 2012, my husband, George and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary in Cochin, India. We discussed the possibility of the world ending in two days on 12/21/12. George said, "Whether the world ends or not, I am glad I met you and I am glad we are on this trip [our second one-year sabbatical in Asia]." When the world did not come to an end, we traveled on to Gokarna where we met a 35-year-old man, who recently was treated with six months of chemotherapy for Hodgkin's lymphoma, his comment to us that night, "I was glad I had just come back from a one-year trip I had always wanted to take before I got my diagnosis." You never know what will happen next but most of us do not spend our days and our time doing the things we most want to accomplish. Chores and responsibilities get in the way until we are faced with a reason to focus on our priorities.

In the beginning of Jonathan Tropper's new book, One Last Thing Before I Go, the main character, Silver, is confronted by his estranged teenage daughter with her personal dilemma and soon after he is faced with his own life threatening condition which only his ex-wife's fiancée can solve. With all the twists and turns in this novel that includes three generations you will feel you have entered the rollercoaster of his life. He makes an unusual choice; if he is to continue, he must change in all areas. He is tired of mediocrity. While the dramas of our own lives may not be as tragic, he serves as an example of how life can change in an instant.

In Money and Happiness, Laura Rowley offers advice for how to align your money with your values to increase your happiness. Silver could use Rowley's help but this would only be the tip of the iceberg for him. If your issues are mainly financial this book could be your 2013 primer for getting back on track. Rowley asks, "What's the meaning of life?" Most of us never take the time to either answer this question or to make the way we spend our time and money match the answers. We claim we want prosperity but are not sure what it means to us. Rowley's definition: "the condition of being successful or thriving; especially economic wellbeing," which means that each person must also define what success means to them. Silver is trying to find this definition -- and quickly -- before his indecision renders him dead.

Silver, like many of us in Western nations are caught on the "hedonic treadmill ... where we adapt to the improvement in our circumstances, and then seek more. The more money we make, the more we demand from life, and the more dissatisfied we become when we don't get what we want." In Reality is Broken, Jane McGonigal states that the solution to hedonic adaption is "to make our own happiness [by focusing]on activity that generates intrinsic rewards -- the positive emotions, personal strengths and social connections that we build by engaging intensively with the world around us."

In the story, Silver is actively having many emotions and engaging in conversations but only in shockingly inappropriate ways that are mainly damaging his social connections. Many of us are afraid to share our innermost feelings with friends and family and also need help in making a significant change in our life from patterns of extrinsic to intrinsic rewards, and for support to get out of debt, lose weight, improve our health or change our personal relationships.

As I read about Silver's choices and dramas, all I kept thinking was I wish I could send him to Jessica Gelson, a wonderful healer in Santa Monica, California, for help. He knows which things he does that are making him more miserable but until his health crisis has not been motivated to live a life with no regrets. If your 2013 resolution is a life with less drama and more happiness, then Gelson, an intuitive healer and psychotherapist who employs both traditional psychotherapy techniques as well as somatic or body-based psychotherapy, can help. In addition to her traditional training, she is a graduate of Ann Bradney's Radical Aliveness CORE energetics school and Kamana Hunter's BlueStone Institute for the Healing Arts. Gelson defines Intuitive Healing "as the reading and releasing of energetic blocks. It is a means of tapping into the wisdom of the body in order to facilitate emotional release and healing on a very deep plane. [She] works with people at all stages of the healing process from those going through a gentle transition to those releasing severe past trauma." Don't wait for a potentially life-ending medical condition to change. All your days are valuable. Don't waste them.

Silver loves rest stops on car trips which "have always made him strangely happy .... Just the idea of everyone on their way somewhere, united by wanderlust, no one belonging more than anyone else." Whether we are on a journey near or far, we are all on our way somewhere and Silver shares with us about his favorite treat:

"I guess no one ever eats an ice cream cone at a funeral, or a fire. The Red Cross doesn't drop ice cream cones into third-world countries. If you're eating an ice cream cone, it's just very hard to believe that things have completely gone to shit. That there isn't still hope."

When I think about the last day of the world or our friend who survived cancer, I wonder what would I want to do if I knew I only had a few days or months left. Silver's story points out the steps he takes to re-envision his own life. I hope that you choose to live your days in ways that match your values and bring you prosperity with great intrinsic rewards and no hedonic adaption. Make a choice for 2013 to live your best life with no regrets so that on whichever day is your last, you can truly say, you lived fully in every moment. Like Silver, you can eat an ice cream cone and remember there is still hope!

About the Author: Lisa and George Rajna met online in 2007 and started traveling together internationally almost immediately. By 2008, they had quit their jobs, rented their condo and left for a year on the road. After eleven countries, twelve months, losing sixty pounds and getting engaged underwater, they returned to Los Angeles. On July 1, 2012, the next year long adventure began in Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar and now India.

Lisa Niver Rajna was recently on National Television as a science teacher on the show Career Day. She is a 2012 nominee for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching, and is a member of the Traveler's Century Club for travelers who have been to over one hundred countries. She and George are spending a sabbatical year in Asia. Follow their travels at We Said Go Travel, on Twitter and on Facebook.