“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12
One way to get a heart of wisdom is to learn from people more experienced from you and take to heart lessons they learned. There was a sociological study done several years ago that aimed at doing just that. This asked 50 people over the age of 95 this important question:
“If you could live your life again, what would you do differently?”
The question was left open-ended and a variety of answers poured in. After analyzing the results, sociologists found something very surprising.
Three answers constantly reemerged and dominated the study’s results:
1. If I could do it all over again, I would reflect more.
2. If I could do it all over again, I would risk more.
3. If I could do it all over again, I would do more things that would live on after I am dead.1
It is striking that these three thoughts (or really regrets) were common among the group—which is to say that we will probably feel the same way if we live to 95. When I’m 95, I don’t want to look back with regret. I want to look back in thankful victory of what God did in me and through me and give praise to His Name for my life.
I’m not sure that study had any ties to Christianity, but I do know that each of the answers are right in line with what Scripture has said all along. Here are a few thoughts on this study relating to the Christian faith:
Scripture gives us many commands to reflect, remember and meditate on what God has done (for starters, see Deuteronomy 8 and Psalm 1). We are often so busy with our lives that we constantly are thinking of the needs of the present instead of learning from the lessons of the past.
Snap out of that habit. Live a reflective life that learns from mistakes, gives thanks to God for victories, and cultivates desires to live your remaining days with greater intentionality and purpose. One practical way I reflect is by journaling about experiences and relationships and then praying over them that God would teach me what He wants to from them. As the years go by (and assuming I keep up with that discipline!), I can look back at all the Lord has taught me along the way.