The Quality of a Life Well-Lived

“Quality of Life” is a topic that is often on my mind as a result of the work I do in hospice. As a music therapist working with those who are at the end-of-life, I use music to provide physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual support to people during the last months, weeks, days… sometimes hours of their lives.

Most of the patients with whom I work are older adults in their late 70s and older. I often wonder about the lives my patients led up to that point when we meet. Who do they believe themselves to be? How does their current belief compare with how they may have believed themselves to be in the past?

The developmental stages established by the German-born American developmental psychologist, Erik Erikson, describes the stage of late adulthood as one of questioning who one is and whether their life had meaning. That is, is one at peace with the life they’ve lived and the decisions they’ve made, or are there lingering regrets about things they had (or hadn’t) done?

As a younger middle adult woman interested in helping people to experience enhanced quality of life at any age, I often think about how the choices we make today will affect our outlook on life as older adults. While it’s inevitable that we’ll make decisions or experience things in life that we may identify as regrettable, I believe that consciously embracing regrets as “life lessons” that have been formative in shaping us into the people we are today- and who we hope to be in the future, will help us to be able to look back at our lives as one that was well-lived.

I recently caught the following program with Kathryn Schulz about her TED talk on the topic of “embracing regret.” I really appreciated her perspective on this topic, and I encourage you to check it out:

I look forward to responding to your thoughts in the comments section.