“The only secret for not having irreversible regrets is saying it now.”
(From “30 Lessons for Living” by Karl Pillemer)
Cornell University conducted a project on human heritage for five years. They asked over 1,000 elders for life lessons and advice to younger people and categorized them into 30 items. One of them is the above.
Many wise people who lost their family members said they regret the most not saying ‘I love you.’ Meanwhile, a mother who always said ‘I love you’ before she hung up the phone with her daughter said she was very glad that the last thing she said to her daughter was ‘I love you.’
The advice is especially relevant for people prone to express irritation, criticism, and swear words and are less likely to share kinder emotions. It advises people not to be shy about using words such as ‘I am sorry,’ ‘Thank you,’ and ‘I love you.’
As the former principal of a vocational high school, I practiced the advice myself at the school. I gave an assignment to the students who got a job during a semester to visit their middle school teacher. “You don’t have to bring anything. The words you share with him or her are the biggest gift you can give. Just tell the teacher, 'Thank you. I got a job thanks to you,'" The students returned happier at the sight of happy teachers.
I also urged students who were soon to graduate to thank their senior colleagues at work for training and helping them, adding that that is how you make other people and yourself happy.
Letters are a good option too. Hand-written letters are an excellent way to express your sincere feelings. Saying things in person is better, but if it’s not convenient, e-mails and Kakao Talk messages can work too. Any method is acceptable as long as you can share your feelings. Tell them that you thank them and love them now.